How to take a selfie correctly? Your own photo taken with a smartphone or webcam for posting on a forum or on a social network is gaining popularity.
Ready? Then shoot. We choose a suitable place, pick up a mobile phone, point it at ourselves, make a carefree face as much as possible and click. In a few seconds, your portrait is already online. “Your own photo, taken with a smartphone or webcam for publication on a forum or social network,” - this is the definition given by the Oxford Dictionary of “selfie”, which became the word of the year just five months after its official recognition. Simply put, now portraits are not painted by artists.
The use of this neologism on the Internet grew by 17,000% in 2013. According to the specialized site Fstoppers.com, 10% of the photos on the Internet were published within the last year. And many of them are portraits. More than three million photos with the caption "I", 73 million with the caption "Selfie" and 187 million with the designation "Mine" have been published on Instagram. According to experts from the authoritative Pew Research Center, 91% of American teenagers have taken a selfie at least once.
But it's not just teenagers who are addicted to this. President of the United States Barack Obama (together with the Prime Minister of Denmark), Hillary Clinton with her daughter, such celebrities as Justin Bieber and Rihanna took a picture of himself. Even Pope Francis agreed to take a selfie with a group of young people. Thousands of similar photographs appear every day. The trend is becoming irreversible and is causing lively controversy.
Of course, it is based on a mobile phone. “The technology itself is pushing for selfies. The smartphone is small in size, the photos do not imply any costs. Strictly speaking, this is not too different from an addiction to photographing objects, food and other events in which you are a participant,”says Javier de la Rivera, a media sociologist and member of the Cibersomosaguas group at the Complutense University of Madrid. researching Internet culture and social movements. The front-facing camera, which is equipped with most modern mobile phones, greatly facilitates the process of photographing. Previously, you could also take pictures of yourself, but everything was much more complicated: you had to stand near the mirror, have the function of photographing at a distance, and bend your arm so that it was impossible to see how the picture would turn out. Now everything is done with one click. Wonders!
“It’s like Christopher Columbus showed the Indians a mirror, and for the first time in their life they saw their face in it,” says Enrique San Juan, director of Community Internet and a renowned expert on digital topics.
Professional photographer Pep Escoda, 16 Lux award winner and member of the Spanish Professional Photographers Association, believes that “Compared to a conventional camera, a mobile phone has the advantage of being instantaneous. With a mobile phone, everything turns out much faster, and now there is a huge need for instant image transmission."
Some see this as a potential danger or signs of some kind of disorder. Others urge not to dramatize the situation, arguing that this is a new form of communication. The question is open for discussion. “Post a selfie? This is vanity and self-admiration, "says Carol Lieberman, known in the United States as a psychologist in the field of electronic communications.“This is a clear manifestation of the growing trend towards narcissism. Through these photographs we express a desperate need to shout out loud: Look at me! " - she thinks.
Approximately the same harsh opinion was expressed by the Italian psychoanalyst Massimo Recalcati in his recently published article: “People have already stopped photographing the world that serves only as a decoration. Feeling insignificant, they become more and more obsessed with narcissism."
Researchers Laura Buffardi and Keith Campbell, in a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, point out that "Narcissistic people use social media to make themselves known." And selfies are used as a tool to achieve these goals. “This is a modern way of inflating self-importance. More and more people are using the Internet, and this is where a person with his self-portrait is striving,”says the English psychologist Diana Parkinson.
Young people are more interested in this. In the work of researchers at the University of North Carolina (USA), published in The Altantic, it is indicated that members of the Internet community are significantly superior to previous generations in terms of the degree of narcissism. A report from the Universities of Birmingham and Edinburgh, UK, concluded that those who post a lot of their own photographs tend to be superficial and unlikely to maintain true friendships. In addition, they tend to stay away from other people and compete with them through photographs. “It's better to think carefully before publishing. And post the photo only once,”the researchers warn.
But all these negative judgments do not take into account the fact that the motives for creating a self-portrait can be very different. Someone prefers not to post a photo on the network, but send it to a friend or save it as a souvenir in their mobile. In this case, the desire to declare oneself fades into the background. In addition, there are different types of selfies. Someone does not hesitate to show themselves even in frank poses, showing the chest, muscles, body curves. Others think that they are doing something worthy of attention, and this needs to be shown to everyone else, for example, when they are in some important place. But there are also people who understand that they look funny and take pictures both to please their friends and to capture funny moments.
In this regard, Phil González, creator of the social network Instagram, notes the playful aspect of this phenomenon: “Selfies are entertainment designed to be able to look at oneself. No more". Its success is partly due to the fact that the photos are taken instantly and look completely natural. Sometimes with poor lighting, blurred focus and an incomprehensible angle … As photographers say, a person who always poses is not interesting. “Selfies are not just a face captured in the frame. It's not about looking pretty, it's about portraying a specific episode,”said Frederic della Faille, founder of Frontback, a photo sharing app.
There is a fairly widespread belief that a self-portrait is just one of the ways to tell about yourself. Psychology Today writes that, contrary to some of its fiercest critics, the debate over selfies should not be solely about the individual. Those who look at these photos want to know what is happening and in what setting. They are no longer interested in who is depicted there, but when and where the photograph was taken.
For example, instead of writing “I went to work,” the person posts a photograph with work overalls; children who carved their initials on the bark of trees a few years ago are now posting photos of their beloved on the Internet; if earlier celebrities were asked for autographs, and their photos were pasted over the wall and invited friends to their home to look at them, now they simply publish selfies of celebrities on the Internet; if earlier people appeared in society on the occasion of holidays or balls, now the newly-minted groom or bride declares himself in the virtual community using a mobile phone; If in the 80s they sent postcards from the places they visited, now they prefer to send their own photo, taken next to some historical monument. One way or another, now a new form of visual diary is emerging, which captures evidence that we were there and did this.
A generation of active Internet users have been photographing others and themselves for years. “What if self-portraits using a mobile phone are quite normal? Technological advances redefine what is normal: everything that can be exposed and found through search engines is part of it,”said Pamela Rutledge, director of the Center for Psychological Research in the Media (USA). “If you don't, then in some circles you will even be perceived as an unsociable person. It is believed that everything on the web should be open and accessible,”confirms Enrique San Juan.
The basic tenet of the internet is that images are more impressive than text. The consequence of this, perhaps, is the flourishing of selfies. “Unknowingly, we tend to reply and comment on a photo. Our brains process visual images faster and we feel more engaged when we see faces. If you look at a page with a lot of photos, you end up paying attention only to selfies, Rutledge notes. Enrique San Juan is even more categorical: “Consumers of digital information do not like to read, they only perceive images. Therefore, I don’t talk about what I’m doing on my mobile phone, I just send a photo.”
Several years ago, when the Internet entered our lives, some researchers warned of the dangers of loneliness, isolation and depression. Not now we have something quite the opposite. Experts emphasize that social media can boost self-esteem, improve the perception of others' outward appearance and help strengthen relationships, especially in the case of positive ratings. Therefore, a selfie should not be seen as a static self-portrait, but as an invitation to closer communication. It is a form of communication that stimulates social dialogue. These photos are not for viewing only. This is a kind of invitation to friends on a social network. Selfies are a tool for interaction.
Andrea Letamendi, a psychologist and researcher at the University of California, USA, argues that this practice is especially effective in the case of children and adolescents. “Selfies are primarily the result of studying oneself. Self-portraits allow you to express your mood and tell about your experience. These photos not only exist in the electronic world, they create it. This habit has already become part of our social culture and, therefore, it is useful."
“Our relations are not building the way they used to be. We do not have direct contact with friends, clients. But we still want someone to pat us on the shoulder in a friendly way, says - Pep Escoda. - Therefore, I believe that a selfie is not just a portrait, it is part of a long search for oneself. With the help of these self-portraits, we strive for self-affirmation."
And here another question arises. Do these photos really reflect our essence? "These photos are more likely to show not who we are, but who we seem to be," said psychologist Jill Weber, who works for Psychology Today. Nuances are very important, because in the case of a selfie, it is the user who decides what the self-portrait will be like. And he ultimately decides whether to publish it or not. Robert Arkin, professor of education at Ohio State University (USA), argues that selfies are a way of controlling our image, which is formed by others. We expose our self-portrait for their review with specific intentions and goals. Which ones exactly?
Mariano Choliz, professor of psychology at the University of Valencia and one of the authors of Adicción a internet y redes sociales (Adicción a internet y redes sociales), points out that selfies came from a desire for competition: “Celebrities started taking them for the sake of self-promotion. And then, imitating them, everyone else began to do the same. " Enrique San Juan explains the value of a self-portrait taken using a mobile phone by the fact that for the first time there is an opportunity not only to disseminate information, but also to process it. “Now users are unexpectedly discovering that they can do this, too, thanks to selfies. They can declare themselves on social networks, post their photos. Yourself! " - he explains.
Of course, this is a rather fleeting pleasure that lasts only a few seconds. As Andy Warhol would say, we will all have fifteen minutes of fame, broken down into five-second chunks each that repeat whenever we post a selfie. “The user, finally, can shape his own image. This, of course, causes a certain euphoria, since a mini-space of glory is formed around a person,”emphasizes Enrique San Juan. “With the help of selfies, we create our public image. Not necessarily the best, but the one we want. And we have the ability to support him. To a certain extent, with the help of these self-portraits, a person forms his reputation. And we can offer this image at our discretion to friends,”he emphasizes.
Without seeking to either denigrate or whitewash this phenomenon, as is often done with regard to technical innovations, it is best to maintain a reasonable balance. “It's always nice to post a selfie. It can even be fun. The whole world will know about you. And that's why it can be addictive,”warns Mariano Cholis. Publishing photographs on the Internet means making a certain contribution to the work of electronic media. But their unaccountable publication may indicate a lack of self-esteem. “In the most extreme cases, it can be assumed that a person's personal experience is of no value if he does not share it online with other people. Young people, in particular, may feel a great need to declare themselves and feel the support of their friends,”says Javier de Rivera.
“Some people start to feel like photographers just because they tirelessly take pictures with their phones. But a true photographer is completely different. He has his own philosophy, lifestyle, - says Pep Escoda, emphasizing the creativity of this profession. - Selfies are a complex phenomenon that should not be reduced solely to narcissism. Some people take pictures, while others comment on them. Still others are content to simply examine them in silence. It looks like a new form of voyeurism is emerging before our very eyes. " But this is a completely different matter. Or not.
Selfie step by step
Use a mobile phone with a front camera.
Provide proper lighting. The light should not fall directly on the face, because in this case, its features may lose their naturalness.
Assess the background and overall setting. This is much more important than you think. And people notice it. What matters is where you take the selfie: in the bathroom, next to a celebrity, or near a monument.
At the time of shooting, do not tilt your head back, as you risk thus distorting the chin and the oval of the face.
It is better to choose a three-quarter angle than to be photographed from the front. Thus, you give the facial features more softness and proportion.
Do not extend your arm too far, as it may get caught in the frame and look longer than it is.
Try to look natural. Naturalness and ease are highly valued on the web.
Posting a selfie is not bad in itself, but it can create problems if, for example, the photos are of questionable content. The American media warned that people are increasingly being photographed next to beggars, funeral processions or disaster sites. All of these are manifestations of bad taste, not to mention sexual photographs. “Parents may not like it if their son posts pictures like this. If we add a sexual component to technical addiction, then we get a really uncontrollable mixture, "admits an expert in the field of Internet technologies Enrique San Juan, who believes that in any case, you need not scold, but educate. “Young people grew up with technology. When they were first born, modern technologists already existed. But we, adults, had to adapt to these technologies, which is why sometimes it is so difficult to understand what is happening,”says teacher Mariano Cholis. The recent success of the Snapchat app, which allows you to send photos that self-destruct after a few seconds, is quite telling. The temptation to free yourself from any restraints in such a short time is strong enough. “Most want to destroy the selfies. This is a trendy and somewhat unhealthy trend, especially among men and women in relationships,”says San Juan.