Let’s all just embrace the fact that the arrogant act of photographing yourself is now as commonplace as, well, using your smartphone as a handheld mirror. Modesty, it seems, has been cast aside in the social media realm. Hordes of Tweeters, Instagrammers and Facebookers are unbuttoning their humble exteriors for Carnival in Selfiedom.
The turn of the century has wrought selfies, photographing a self-portrait on your smartphone, into our lives via social media and has received its share of scorn. But, since the earliest of times, self-portraits have been drawn, painted, photographed and sculpted. Some of the best works from history’s most celebrated artists lie in portraiture. Most every well-known artist, from Vincent Van Gogh to M.C. Escher to Ansel Adams to Andy Warhol, has used themselves as their subject and met with criticism for it. Rembrandt Van Rijn has one of the widest collections of self-portraits at over 40 paintings and 31 etchings.
It’s a societal mum – we’re enamoured with our own image and have been since the cave days. The argument against selfies is that self-portraiture in paint, pencil, clay or woolly mammoth blood requires skill and creativity – selfies do not. The original intent here was to argue against this, that there is a modicum of art in selfies. Then a #selfie search on Twitter left me thinking uhhhhh. . .maybe not. Anyway, snapping a selfie worthy of public consumption is not easy, nor pretty the first time. And, everybody’s doing it, so, beginners, here’s how to take a good selfie.
First and foremost, you need a smartphone with a reversible camera lens so that you can see yourself on the screen.
1. Face the light
This goes back to photography 101. If the light is behind you, it creates a backlit/silhouette effect. This casts shadows on your mug and can make you look a little unearthly.
2. Angles, angles, angles
A camera lens is bulbous. If you hold your phone directly in front of you, your face mid-screen, the centre part of your face bulges out a little. Tilt the top of the phone slightly towards you and, at the just the right angle, your eyes look bigger. This is where you have to play with angles in order to take a good selfie.
3. Crop the photo-taking arm out of the pic
We all know it’s a selfie, but it doesn’t need to be so obvious. While taking the photo, make the extending arm as unobtrusive as you can.
4. Choose your expression
NO duck lips. No duck lips. The basic tip here is to be natural with whichever expression you choose, don’t force it. Tap into your inner seductress, smartass, goof and let it surface naturally.
A picture says a thousand words. Make your background bland, nature-esque or artsy – don’t let the toilet sneak up on you.
6. Click fast
Snapping a selfie requires mad dexterity. After you have chosen your angle and background, keep your thumb poised over the photo button, look at the lens (not the screen), bust out your expression and click! Should anything go awry – the camera slipped a little, your thumb couldn’t find the button – your face in your photo will give you away.
7. Take an ugly selfie
Press your chin into your neck, bulge your eyes out a little more, reveal a canine tooth. You should be able to laugh at your selfies. The amount of time applied to making a good selfie, allocate some of it to making the ugliest selfie. This is unadulterated enjoyment to the max.
Your selfie is ready for posting.