Taking the best Snapchat photo isn't quite the same as taking any other photo – or, rather, different tips work for different things. You may want to take a fierce selfie to show off your bad self, you may want to pull off a flirtatious pout, or you could choose to tell a story. Capturing funny snaps on the fly, using filters, and playing with paint all take a special touch, too. Read on for everything you need to take you Snapchat skill to the next level.
1 Double-tap Dat Screen
This is just an easy way to switch your Snapchat camera. It's for the very laziest of us who don't want to reach all the way up to the corner of the screen.
2 Always Take a Picture of Your Thumb Face
For those who do not have the pleasure of knowing what the Thumb Face is, it's basically what happens when you lie flat, so your neck kind of oozes into your face, which folds into multiple chins. Because of the extreme front-face angle, the ensuing selfie makes you look like a thumb from the neck up – complete with knuckles!
3 Draw Better on an IPad
Here's the trick: download Snapchat onto your tablet but, when you do, set it to “iPhone only.” That causes the app to look horrible on your iPad, but the larger version is helpful for painting, handwriting, and creating Snapchat art. The picture is the same size as it would be on your phone, you see, but blown-up, making it easy to draw the finest, most delicate lines, to shade, and to create small masterpieces.
4 Play with the Color Gradients
If you play around with Snapchat, you've probably found the color gradient. If not, it's easy. Press down and hold your finger against the Snapchat color slide. Place it over whichever shade you like. Drag your fingertip slowly to the left and watch the color lighten. To darken the color, drag your finger down. (P.S. That is Dobby. Heather calls this his "Forrest Gump" shirt.)
5 Go with Black or White
Android has black and white on its Snapchat color bar, but iPhone users aren't so lucky. To get to black, press down and then drag your finger all the way to the left. Black starts at the bottom left, white is at the top left, and there's every shade of grey in between. You can get to the grey gradient by dragging it up or down on the left side.
6 Experiment with the Transparency Feature
You just have to find it first. Don't worry, once you activate the super secret color bar, you'll see it quickly enough. This is also a great time to play around with different colors and nuanced shades.
7 Activate Your Geofilters
These location-specific filters are fairly new but ultra cool. They don't show up everywhere, but you won't know if you have access to any if you don't turn them on. Just head to your Settings page, go to Additional Services, and head into Manage. You also have to make sure you enable location services, so this might just be something you try when you're in an area that offers geofilters, such as LA, San Francisco, or NYC.
8 Actually, Use Your Filters, Period
Granted, there aren't very many of them, but the photo filters on Snapchat are pretty – simple, yes, but pretty nonetheless. They also serve one very important purpose: they improve the photo quality a little. It's not a lot, but they do smooth out some of the graininess you tend to see in Snapchat photos.
9 Try the Front-facing Flash
For selfies in the dark or spots where the lighting's a little low, the front-face flash is pretty fly. It's not nearly as WHOA BRIGHT as the regular flash, of course, but it's helpful. You can turn it on through Settings>Additional Services>Manage, too. Like the filters, it improves your photo quality by a smidge.
10 Add an Emoji
Adding an emoji to your snaps isn't brand new, but it's still relatively shiny. It's enough of a novelty that users are still having fun with the ability, at any rate. You add emoji the same way you add text: tap the sticky-note-looking icon next to the T at the top of the screen.
11 Want to Supersize That?
In fact, you can supersize emoji and text. To make your text bigger, first make sure you've enabled special text in your settings. As you're entering text, tap the T. One tap increases the text size (small and VERY LARGE are the only options so far), two taps center the text. Making your emoji larger is as easy as pinching your screen. Pinch your fingers together to make the emoji smaller or pull them apart to make the emoji as big as you like. You can even twist and position your emoji however you want – with a finger emoji picking your nose, perhaps. (...sorry.)
12 Amuse All Your Friends with Lenses
Unlike filters, lenses are brilliant little videos with often hilarious effects. Sadly, the rainbow vomit lens is no more – for the time being, at least. A new selection of lenses pushed it out, along with the demon face lens and a few others. I've seen several quotes from “Snapchat insiders” sort of coyly suggesting that the rainbow lens will come back around again, which makes sense. Until then, play around with the shifting selection of animated lenses. Send someone an “I love you,” cry more, or see how you'd look in a mustache and a monocle. You have to take a selfie in portrait mode to active the lenses, which involves pressing down on your face until a little bubble pops up. It's generally better to face the camera full-on and press down on your lips. You'll see Snapchat map your face, so you can tweak the positioning. Then you're ready to scroll through the lenses.
13 Try Your Hand at Snapchat Art
You know a great trick to create finely detailed paintings now, so tap into your innate artistic ability to create some next-level snaps. Start small if you have to because it's all for fun. If you're good at drawing, sketching, or painting, however, go all out and create some masterpieces for your friends to view in your story. You can get surprisingly sophisticated with shading and blending.
14 Remember the Rule of Thirds
Yes, even for Snapchat selfies. That basically just means you want to position your lovely face in the top left or right corner of your picture. In general, try to pose so that your eye line is roughly one-third of the way down from the top of the photo frame. Shift it just a bit to one side, as well. At the very least, avoid centering yourself and looking full-on at the camera – that's not often flattering, plus it can end up looking like a driver's license or passport photo.
15 Try the Two-handed Approach
Taking a one-handed selfie can be difficult if you have short fingers. If you also have short arms then it's nearly impossible because an unsteady hand keeps the camera from focusing. You may also just have shaky hands, or you might want to try something new. Enter the two-handed method. It's not revolutionary or anything, but taking a clear, composed selfie is much easier. Your arms also create a kind of frame for the picture.
16 The Shutter Hack
If you do suffer from a shaky selfie hand but don't want to use the two-handed approach all the time, you can change the way you take your pictures instead. Hit your volume buttons to release the shutter, or just hit the shutter release button itself.
17 Always Find Your Light
Whether you're snapping a selfie for the express purpose of turning yourself into a Minion or to snap-flirt with your latest crush, you need to find your light. Ditto if you're secretly grabbing a shot of some unusual or interesting sight on the street. It's almost always better to use natural light instead of the flash.
There are tons of ways to upgrade your Snapchat game if you're into that. Some things can improve your entire selfie game, but others are unique to the app, which is an increasingly popular social media platform. You can tell so many stories on Snapchat, and there are so many creative storytelling methods available. Do you know anybody with enviable Snapchat skills?