Un-Selfie

Over the last few years, selfie has taken over the mobile camera users by storm. There are mobiles everywhere and now every mobile is equipped with some kind of camera. Selfie is the ‘in-thing’. My family members are crazy about selfies.

In fact, the last time when I went to purchase my mobile phone, the salesman kept on telling me about the features and capabilities of the camera in the phone. I had to interrupt him multiple times and explain that I wanted to buy a phone to be used as a phone and not a camera. People buy phones for camera capabilities now and so obsession with selfies was bound to become popular.

Taking a Selfie (CC0 License)

Everyone around me keeps clicking their self-portraits (or selfies) on the latest of the mobile phones. Sometimes it seems silly that there is a group of three-four people and each one gets busy clicking selfies of themselves, not even the group! Why can’t they ask the others to click these photographs? Have we reached such a time when people feel more comfortable and close to the virtual friends and online contacts rather than real friends that are closeby?

 

Reasons to avoid Selfies (Go Un-Selfie)

Front camera: The front camera in most of the mobile phones is not as good as the rear camera. For selfies, people tend to use the front camera so that the scene to be captured is visible to them. So, the picture quality suffers. Use the rear camera and let someone else click your photograph.

Perspective: The close distance of the camera to the person, when held at an arm’s length is not good for portraits. The close perspective tends to distort faces, making them roundish with exaggerated facial features (opposite of what portrait photographers usually do). Selfie-sticks do help mitigate this problem but not completely. Even they are not long enough to create pleasing portraits. More on perspective – Knowing Where to Stand!

Detachment from the scene: While photographing, the thought process gets aligned to the way our camera is capable of seeing things. Same thing happens with selfies. People clicking their selfies start to see the surroundings as a background for their selfies. The scenic landscape no longer remains a treat for the eyes. It just becomes an interesting background. Somehow this does not happen with camera users. Maybe it is because people turn their backs to the scene so as to capture a selfie whereas people with regular cameras do not?

Sharing the selfies: As soon as the selfies are captured, there sets in a feeling of urgency to share it on social networks or messaging apps. Next few moments get wasted in sending these photographs across. Precious moments that could have been used to enjoy that moment further!

A hit to your status! Yes, believe it or not, clicking a selfie is seen as a very lowly activity by most others, even if they too have been guilty of clicking selfies. I did not believe this but recently I interacted with a group of tourists in a nearby tourist destination and this is what came out from them. I got the same response from some other groups as well in an entirely different location. So, taking a selfie, lowers your image in the eyes of others. It is your call to take, whether this prejudice matters to you or not.

 

When Selfie is the only option

I too have clicked selfies at times and so trust me when I say that I am not against selfies. There are times when this happens to be the only option.

One such occasion was an early winter morning when I went cycling. I told a close friend of mine that I was out cycling and he was not convinced. I had to click a selfie and share it with him. That did convince him. Couple of days back, I was having a beer with another pal of mine and we wanted to capture a photograph as a memory of our friendship and good times. We were the only two persons. Once again Selfie was the simplest option.

So, if you have to click a selfie, here are some pointers to click the best selfies –

  • As always, clean the mobile camera lens with a soft cloth. The way phones are carried and used is very different from regular cameras. So, they do tend to get dirty. A dirty lens creates dull images!
  • Understand the limitations of your phone camera and work within those.
  • I dislike selfies and in turn I find selfie sticks silly. However between clicking a selfie at an arm’s length or using a selfie stick, I would have to vote for the selfie stick. Sigh!
  • Set the camera color balance to daylight if you can. Auto color-balance tends to add cool hues to balance out the predominance of skin tones. This robs the photograph of its effect.
  • Disable the front flash if there is one. The front flash is low powered point source of light and usually a different color than the surroundings. The flash creates nasty light reflections on the skin, especially on a warm day.
  • Keep the camera away from your face but also keep it just a little bit up. The camera should align roughly with the top of your head.  Not at all in the way many people tend to take it high up in the air! Positioning the camera just a little above the eye level avoids excessive exaggeration of the nose while adding a bit of hair.
  • No pouting please. Not even if you are a girl with nice bright lipstick on. A nice sincere smile usually looks far better than a pout.
  • Try to use the rear camera on the phone if you can. A small mirror can be attached to the selfie-stick, which can help in composing the photograph.
  • Look at the lens if you are planning to look towards the phone. People who use front cameras often look at the whole screen or themselves in the screen. Do so while composing the image but before capturing, turn your eyes to the camera.
  • Capture selfies only when there are no other options. Making friends and using their help is a far better option.

 

(Ideal way to a selfie – Using a rear camera which is placed at the same height as the head and also at some distance away from the person. Still my question remains – why not ask another person to click a photograph?)

 

How to pose for Selfies?

Selfies are all about posing. So, here is a quick guide to getting the best poses –

  • Do not point your elbow or bent knee towards the phone.
  • Place your hands such that the palm is partially closed but not as tight as a fist. Don’t show your palm to the phone.
  • Let your fingers show.
  • Never cut your portrait in places where natural joints in bodies occur. For example- do not frame so that the hands get cut at elbow. Let the frame either include the complete elbow or not at all.
  • If you want to tilt your head, tilt your shoulder too.
  • Keep your back straight. Don’t slouch. Straight back conveys confidence, beauty and happiness.
  • When you keep the camera slightly up (at the level of your head) and look straight at it, the neck shows well. This makes the portraits look good. Show your neck but don’t tilt your head unnaturally.
  • Never go into a defensive posture. Don’t cross your arms or hold them too close to the body.
  • If you are posing so that your legs are also visible, stand so that both of them appear. Don’t let one of the legs be hidden by your other leg or any other prop.
  • The most important thing to do- smile whole heartedly. Feel happy from within. It shows in the photograph.

 

Still, Where possible, try to avoid Selfies. Make friends, ask the people to capture your photographs. Capture memories and enjoy the surroundings. Selfies are not the end of the world. Time to Un-Selfie!

 

All images: CC0 License (with model release said to be available with respective photographers)

 

Further Reading :

Phone camera for photography

 

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