The Age of the Selfie
Yeah I know what date it is, but I did Halloween costumes last year, okay? If you’re going to repeat yourself it shouldn’t be THAT obvious, right? Alright then, moving on. If there’s anything that social media demonstrates, it’s that all the various image capturing technologies out there have made this the age of the “selfie.” I’m inclined to assume you know the term but just in case, a “selfie” is a self-taken photograph. Truth is, if you are like me (and this is particularly true, I expect, for crossdressers) it’s not so easy to find a person willing to take endless photos of you and do it well. I don’t mean candid shots at the beach or a restaurant, but posed for “at your best” photos. So with the available tech options, it’s only natural we’d all seize the opportunity to photograph ourselves.
Sadly, skill at this task varies widely.
The interesting thing about the selfie rage is how easy it is to screw it up. There’s a whole internet meme surrounding images with unexpected and usually embarrassing background content in such photos and the last thing any of us wants is to become internet-famous as the girl who took a self portrait with an unflushed toilet in the shot.
So let’s take a look at some of the more obvious – yet widely unpracticed – tips for taking a selfie.
1. First and foremost: scout the background! If you must use the bathroom mirror (more on this later) look around first. Do you really want people to see you as a slob? Unflushed johns are of course the extreme example but, do you have hand-washed delicate – or dirty towels – lying about? Various toiletries clogging the counter-space? Moldy shower? Look, I’m not saying you ARE a slob…I’m saying that there’s no flattering way to photograph an unkempt bathroom. Moving elsewhere – the same attention to clutter applies in the kitchen or the den or the bedroom – pick stuff up! Also, are you alone in the house, or is there a risk of seeing someone’s naked backside in the background? If so, take precautions. Beyond all that, look with a photographer’s eye. A “busy” background, even if clean, can be distracting from the shot. Unless you are going for a “candid” look, it’s better to angle things such that the composition of the background is relatively simple. This applies either indoors, or out, by the way. I made the mistake once of having an otherwise nice photo taken by a friend – with the garbage dumpster by the road in the background. Ugh.
2. If you use a tablet or phone or whatever in front of a mirror, as in the bathroom – how hard is it to turn the darn thing around? The larger the device, the more you have no excuse. Look in the mirror at the screen which displays the image you are about to take and BAM, the pic is of you, not of you and your tablet and any glare that comes from taking a photo of your reflection. I’m half blind and I managed to pull this off with a dinky little digicam. There’s no excuse for a selfie taken of a mirror image which includes you holding the phone.
3. That said, using a mirror is a good idea. Done right, the mirror allows you to see the image you are about to take (in the reflection) as well as a broad view of the overall subject (you and the background). There are a lot of things you might not otherwise notice that can go wrong with a selfie which you can avoid with the use of a well-positioned mirror. But preferably not the one in the bathroom. If you take a lot of selfies, it would pay to hit the thrift store and find a wall mounted mirror you can place elsewhere, and if you think ahead you can mount it someplace where it reflects a nice clean background.
4. Consider the angle. Different angles can be more or less flattering. For instance, a downward angle – looking up at the camera – can be slimming and quite flattering if you are a thicker sort like myself. Conversely, if you are looking down at the camera you are almost always going to look worse than you do in any other pose. And think VERY carefully before taking “sexy” pics. If you intend to share them you should know that fewer things are sadder than a person who couldn’t find “sexy” in the dictionary trying to pose like a Victoria’s Secret spread.
5. Lastly, consider a tripod/timer combination. It does take a bit of practice to set up a shot and get yourself into it in the right pose – again, a mirror behind the camera is invaluable here – but the effort will pay off in shots that are more focused, better lighted, and so forth. The main selling point of a selfie is that the viewer is looking at YOU and not the quality of the photography, or lack thereof.
Image by: Lisa Nail