Why is it that many of us find that selfies make our nose look big?! It can seem impossible to find an angle that is even remotely flattering and this can put people off jumping on the ever accelerating selfie bandwagon.
But just how did that bandwagon begin? It began to roll around 2002 when people began to post images of themselves, taken by themselves, on social media. In fact the first selfie is thought to have been a rather inauspicious photo on an Australian internet forum of a young man falling down some steps. How interesting! Yet many others followed suit and these self-portait photos rapidly became known as selfies. Since those not-so-heady early days both they and the social media on which they inevitably end up have increased beyond all recognition.
Nowadays it seems that there is pressure to capture every single moment of our lives in a selfie. Away on holiday? Selfie with a scenic background! At a wedding or party? Selfie with other people taking other selfies behind you! Eating out? Selfie with plate of food! You get the picture ….
However, selfies are not just used for frothy social media posturing. Many business people and professionals use selfies as a key element of their digital portfolio. According to Richard Mayfield, Creative Director, Venture Studios: “A powerful trend of the moment – and one that is set to continue - is the emphasis placed on our self-image and how we communicate that image through online social media, networking, business and dating sites.”
Even President Obama has been known to succumb to the temptation for a quick one - including his controversial selfie at the Nelson Mandela memorial in 2013 - although as his presidency draws to a close his interest and willingness are now beginning to wane.
But if selfies are indeed a permanent feature of the contemporary digital landscape for the rest of the human race then how can we make sure that we give it our best shot? Try these five hints and tips:
The big nose syndrome referred to above is a result of the closeness of the camera. Selfies are typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. If the device is held too near the face then there will be a lack of perspective and whichever part of the face is nearer to the camera will be distorted to seem larger than it actually is. Unless you really do have a big nose of course! But generally the further back from the face the better. The rise of the selfie stick has made it easier to take selfies slightly further away from the face and therefore providing a better angle from which to capture that killer shot.
However, it is not just distance that you need to bear in mind. You need to decide whether you want a full frontal facial shot or from a slight side angle. Check this out in the mirror: most people have a “good side” in terms of being photographed and chances are you (a) did not know this and (b) every photograph of you so far is from the opposite side! Whilst the mirror reflects back to you a less accurate image than a camera, at least you can get a good idea of the kind of shots that are likely to work well for you.
Lighting is also key to the success of a shot. If you are serious about getting a good selfie then you need to decide what kind of ambience you want the shot to portray. Bright and shiny light might give you a brilliantly clear photo, but is it really going to show you at your best? Conversely if you make things too dark and gloomy then the result is not actually going to be much of a selfie: there is a difference between being dark and mysterious and being completely indistinguishable! Again, make the mirror your friend so that you can see what different types and strengths of lighting do and do not work well for you.
For the perfect selfie do think about what to do with your mouth! Saying “cheese” will only make you look, well, cheesy! The enigmatic Mona Lisa look is likely to appear grumpy and what is supposed to be a frivolous carefree laugh could probably give The Scream a run for its money! The best photographs are those that reflect a natural expression, but the very nature of selfies is that they are so posed. Experiment with what works for you so that when a worthwhile opportunity for a selfie does arise you won’t ruin it by gurning!
Most selfies tend to focus on the face and whatever is deemed to be the significant background. But if you want a fuller shot then think carefully about how you are going to position the rest of your body when you take it. Most of us probably don’t want the obligatory teenage girl “hand-on-hip-sideways-turn-pouty-mouth” mirror pose - but nor do you want to look like the proverbial tin of milk! Ideally you want a relaxed natural posture that is both authentic and flattering - if that’s not an oxymoron! Easy really ….
We hope that the above hints and tips may help you to improve the quality of your selfies! But here’s something you may not know . . . . many of the so-called selfies used as profile pictures on social media sites are actually taken professionally! Pseudo selfies if you will. MySingleFriend.com founder and TV presenter, Sarah Beeny, says: "We have definitely seen an increase in people using professional pictures on their profile. They obviously want to look their best and make a great first impression and it’s important to have a range of pictures which really shows your personality."
So if after following the above advice your selfies are still a struggle, and seem to portray some strange and ugly person who is definitely not you - obviously! - then you may want to consider admitting defeat and heading post haste for that photographic studio for some selfie therapy!
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