The word “selfie” won as Oxford’s Word of the Year in 2013, but the addiction to taking GPOYs (Gratuitous Photos Of Yourself) started way, waaaay back in the early 2000s. The love for selfies started with the rise of the digicam and the increasing popularity of social sharing websites, such as Friendster and Multiply. As smartphones replaced digicams and became the default extension of most people’s dominant arms, we saw selfies more frequently on our online feeds. Hence, taking a photo of yourself immersing in a new activity or having lunch out with friends quickly became part of the routine for many digital natives.
However, it is a fact that not all selfies are created equal. Let’s just say that some selfies are better than others, and they rake in more views and engagement more than the average selfie. When you look closely into it, the pros at taking selfies are not necessarily well-endowed with the looks! Nailing that winning selfie is not a privilege exclusive to the good-looking and famous people of Facebook and Instagram– it’s more about understanding the art that goes into getting the money shot. And if Manny the Cat can take a perfect selfie, then so can you.
As for myself, I spend an unhealthy amount of time taking selfies, and at one point, some of the selfies I’ve taken were on page 1 of the Google Image search results when you key in “Makati Selfies” (See exhibit A below).
Thus, I’ve picked up quite a few tips and tricks for taking great selfies and knowing the difference between meh ones and good ones, and I’ve taken the liberty to spell out how to snap selfies that are on FLEEK:
1. Find an area conducive for taking great photos. Even if you have the right hair, makeup, and outfit, a bad location can ruin any photo. The three important factors to remember when scouting for a selfie-safe area are:
Background. The worst selfies circulating the internet have one distinct thing in common: poor background. And by poor, I mean abysmally poor, like an unflushed toilet, or a reflection of things that are best left unexposed. The ideal background for taking selfies are clear of any items that might take the focus off you. A clean wall and a wide space are the preferred and easy backgrounds to play with.
Lighting. Bad lighting can kill the vibe in any selfie, and low lighting is not the only culprit. Too much light is just as bad as too little light, and both are equally difficult to fix even with Photoshop. So what can you do to avoid getting stuck with photos with poor lighting? You can do one of two things. You can either catch the best lighting there is– natural lighting or sunlight, or you can get yourself lighting equipment to help you perfect your selfie game. Natural lighting is free, and you can reap the benefits even indoors by snapping photos near a light source, like an open door or window. The downside of going for natural lighting is that you have no control of sunlight — its brightness, intensity, direction, and most especially, the time when you can use it. On the other hand, purchasing some lighting accessories can provide you the flexibility to shoot indoors anytime you feel like it.
Composition. When it comes to composition, or the number of elements in your photo, too few can hurt your photo just as bad as too many elements. The quality of things included in the photo is also important — are the items included taking the focus away from yourself? Are the items relevant to the message that you want to convey in your selfie? (Example — holding up an banana while having a meal is alright. Holding up a banana in a conference is just plain weird.) Remember to do a quick look around and add or subtract items in the way as you see fit. And if it’s just impossible to take out off the photo physically, then make sure to crop unwanted elements out afterwards.
2. Learn your angles and work it. Knowing your flattering angles can ensure that you’re always photo-ready. Don’t take it from me. Here’s a short video from our friends in Korea on the importance of angles. Watch and be inspired.
The key is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Get in front of a mirror and start exploring which angles work best for your face type and face shape, as well as expressions that make your face look pleasant. Study your past snaps and see what you did and didn’t do right. It also pays to practice your poses so that you don’t have to deal with deciding where to put your other hand while taking a selfie.
3. Equip yourself with the right tools. Once you’ve gotten the first two tips down pat, you want to make sure that you’re well equipped with the right gadgets, tools, and apps that will raise your selfie game notches higher. Using a great camera or a selfie-centric smart phone, like the OPPO F1 Selfie Expert, can help make selfie-taking much easier! If you don’t have a phone or camera that works well in low lighting, investing in a ring light or mini LED fill light can help address that. Lastly, explore the use of photo editing apps, such as VSCO Cam, Camera 360, and BeautyPlus, over default Instagram filters, to help you achieve your desired result with your selfies.
4. Expect that you’ll need help – and don’t be shy to ask for it. Even though the root word for selfies is “self,” as in self-taken, that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for a little help from time to time! Friends can help you with your lighting, or by providing feedback and direction on how to make your selfies even better. I do it all the time with my boyfriend, who’s always willing to lend a helping hand in choosing which photos look good, and which ones should never see the light of day.
5. Keep having fun! The most important part of taking selfies is enjoying yourself and having fun. So if you’re getting worked up over the likes and the comments, you need to take a step back, and lighten up. Take a look at some of my favorite selfies from my albums, and see that the common denominator for all six is that the people in the photo are having fun :D
I hope that these five tips give you the confidence you need to take on a personal selfie challenge, especially if you’re the type who never opens the camera app on your phone. Bid goodbye to bad GPOYs and say hello to selfies on FLEEK!– HANA