The Selfie. It’s an epidemic in the social media world, and everyone – from celebrities to politicians to your best friend – is participating. It’s a strange phenomenon in which the photographer is also the subject of the photo, in a rebellious twist on the traditional photograph.
Over one million selfies are taken each day with the intention of being shared on Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, Twitter or any other sort of social networking site. Some selfies are extreme close-ups, others show part of an arm held straight outward and a few of the great ones even feature the subject standing in front of a mirror so that they can capture their reflection.
But the question remains: How does one take a good selfie – one that constitutes likes, positive feedback and perhaps even increased followers? What qualities make for an unsuccessful selfie (duck face anyone)? It’s a thin line and to ensure you don’t cross it, we’ve created a detailed list of do’s and don’ts.
-Look good. Be camera ready. Don’t think glamour shots. Aim for put together, yet casual. If you look like you’re trying too hard, people will notice. But a dab of lip gloss or a dollop of pomade never hurt anyone.
-Pick your best angle…no double chins please. Angles can do wonders for a selfie. Downward angles should be avoided at all costs – double chins are flattering on no one. A straight-on or above angle works best. Straightforward shots make you look the most natural, and shots taken from above can highlight shadows and make you appear slimmer. Just try not to take them from too high, or you will end up with bobble-head syndrome. According to popular dating website okcupid.com, the most popular angle for woman is the “Myspace angle”, which is when she takes the photo from above, coyly looking into the camera. The selfie shot most practiced by men is the “ab shot”, which is a photo taken in the mirror – you guessed it – shirtless.
-SMILE. Nothing says “keep scrolling and don’t you dare like my photo” like the duck face. We’ve all been guilty of it at some point in time – even me – but duck season is over. You know what never goes out of style? A smile. Stick with the classics. Or if you want to switch it up, pretend you aren’t being photographed. A lot of people don’t walk around all day with a smile plastered on their face – try to capture your “normal” face by not making a face at all.
-Play with filters. Filters were created for a reason, so use them to your advantage! In a survey conducted by Optimum, results found that 44% of all people who take selfies alter them in some way. The use of filters doesn’t need to be obvious – a super extreme filter can create an over processed, fake look. But experimenting and selecting just the right filter for your selfie can enhance your facial features – like highlighting your cheekbones or bringing out the color of your eyes. According to the survey, skin tone and eye color/brightness were the most commonly altered selfie features.
-Utilize your toolbox. Photo editing can be a selfie-savior. Learning how to properly use the ‘crop’ and ‘zoom’ tools will make them 10x better, I promise. Take for example the unwanted, but occasionally unavoidable photobomber. No one wants that guy (or girl) in their photo – enter the crop tool. Problem solved.
-Be aware of your surroundings. Nothing kills a selfie like an unpleasant background. This is especially common while taking mirror selfies – sometimes we forget about the pile of dirty clothes, or the toilet – that can be seen in the reflection. If there is something in the background that you can’t get rid of, use the crop tool (as explained above.) Thirty-six percent of people who take selfies say the most common place to take their photos is in their bedroom – so make sure it’s presentable!
-Appropriate lighting. Make sure you have optimum lighting for your selfie. This means no overhead lighting. You’ll wind up with dark shadows under your eyes, and the raccoon look only works if you’re riffling through trash cans (not that I recommend that). Direct sunlight is best, but don’t face the sun because you’ll end up squinting. The sun should be behind you, so your face is highlighted. If there is no natural light, a lamp will work similarly to the sun – as long as the light is coming from behind you.
-Try too hard. The moment you start trying to look cool or sexy, you’ve already failed. I’m not saying you shouldn’t incorporate some creativity – be yourself! Don’t be afraid to show your true colors. But the infamous (and also played out) “flexing in the mirror so hard the veins in your forehead are popping out” photos aren’t generating any positive attention.
-Forget to do a background check. Again, remember to check for dirty underwear or towels on the ground behind you. Toothpaste spatter all over the mirror is another common thing often looked over, but it’s unappealing and people do take notice.
-Duck Face. We’ve all done it. But unlike high-tops and overalls, this is one look that should never come back in style.
-Use the flash. Using a flash while taking selfies will do one of two things: completely overexpose the photos and wash you out, or reflect in the mirror. Neither of these things are good in the photography world. Refer back to ‘Selfie Do’s’ to learn what light works best.
-Overuse of Hashtags. This rule isn’t exclusive to selfies – it applies to all photos. Hashtags (in moderation) are great. They direct traffic to your social media site and can increase likes and followers. But any more than five is usually overkill. For a selfie, less is more.
-Sexy Selfies. There is a lot of controversy around selfies being too sexy or inappropriate. With technology and social media being such an influential part of our lives today, we need to be mindful of what we’re putting out there. Forty-one percent of the selfie demographic aged 18-24 admit to have taken a sexy selfie at some point in their lives, and 36% say they regret it. It’s easy to get a loads of attention for posting a topless selfie – but is that really the kind of attention you want to draw to your social networking site?
The selfie trend is embedded in today’s culture, and whether or not we want to admit it, we’ve all participated at one time or another. Embrace it. It’s presence in the social media sphere doesn’t have to be a bad thing! The negative publicity surrounding the selfie name is due to people who haven’t learned how to do it successfully. But that’s not you.
Get out there, gorgeous, and show ‘em how it’s done!