Do you enjoy having your photo taken?
How often are you placed in that awkward situation where someone utters the word that sends shivers through your cute little dimples? “SMILE”!
I know that I’ve found the solution. Run to the other side of the camera and become the shutterbug. It takes away the angst and puts you back in control until someone says, “let me, we don’t have any photos of you!”. At that moment you feel betrayed, caught out. Or someone reminds you of the camera’s self-timer so you set the frame and do what feels like a 100m dash to the group, then have to turn, pose, and “SMILE” with no trace of breathlessness to be seen.
Now we move to the dreaded camera phone age with, I’m sorry to say, the front-facing camera, dual-camera and all in all more mega-pixels in a handheld phone than the latest 65″ 4K television taking up space in the media room or bedroom at home. This is the age where we can be the photographer, set designer, director, costume and lighting guru and let’s not forget, subject and star.
Poor old Narcissus fell for it.
It’s madness and wonderful all at the same time. Poor old Narcissus fell for it. The good-looking hunter of Greek mythology was trapped by Nemesis into looking at his reflection in the river, never leaving or living until he died. It’s a telling tale that is reflected in some 350 Million photos each day being uploaded to Facebook alone, not to mention what is posted to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google Drive and OneDrive etc. Oh, and the flood of photos in the messages of Messenger, WhatsApp and other private messaging platforms.
Now all that said there is power in visual communications and with each of us being involved in some form of remote communication, irrespective of the distance, then a photo can help position a conversation, place an author or drive some call to action.
So as you look at creating that next Super-Selfie here are some legitimate questions and thoughts to help you frame your shot.
“High and to the right” might help with a camera angle and reduce the number or size of your chin. “Duck face” might pull in your cheek and jowls while pronouncing your lips. But what will help people see the real you?
Who will see this ‘Selfie’?
Whenever we take a photo it’s very likely we have someone or a group of people in mind that we intend to view it. In our social media-centric world we measure success in likes, comments and shares. Add to that the immediacy of notifications and a daily high comes in the endorphin rush of endorsement when we get an online response in under 30 seconds.
Aaah, the adulation! Whether from the target audience of family, workmates or peers, we hunger for acceptance. If that comes closer to home with a parent, suitor, boss or lover then the intimacy of our gratification is higher in the seeking and more intense in the achievement of being acknowledged and adored.
Now the painful truth. Our lives are interconnected and thus, are shared in the intertwining. Your birthday post receives congratulations from relatives even Ancestry.com didn’t know you had. That comment on a controversial Facebook post receives kudos, likes and counter-truth from unknown friends and foes. So how, in our acceptance of this popular community do we play the naivety of finding others have discovered our private selfie moments and shudder in the revelation?
Like the tattoo on your arm or the small of your back, we should be considering what we say, not only to today’s beau but also to next year’s friend, employer or confidant in love.
What will the viewer see in this ‘Selfie’?
It may come as a surprise to realise that the good-looking Peacock is the male variety. While our ladies are given a hard time for too much preening, there are plenty of men flexing, posing and trying to ensure their avatar shows the profile of the tribe they associate with.
Is that what you want people to see in your profile or selfie? Is it about our tribes? From footy to arts, politics to religion are we ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’? When you create a selfie or social media avatar is it actually a magnet, advertising your point of connection?
Do people see us through our hobby, societal class, sport, trade, profession or simply the box we jumped into?
Now while boxes and labels are convenient, there are also values we display on our digital selfie billboards. Just like the differences between the discount store and the brand-label fashion outlet, the branding confirms our perception of price.
As you review your ‘positioning’ of yourself in the market through your selfie branding strategy can you truly say this is the real me? Is it fair to say that intentionally or subliminally we present our desperation, aspiration or worse confirm our worst and best character traits, whether humble or aloof? Do we bring to the surface hidden fears and covered dreams that would transform the wallflower into the prom King or Queen?
Photography in its truest, most artistic form is not drawing with film or painting with pixels, instead it is the art of storytelling through a lens.
When you position yourself in front of the latest version of Apple or Samsung’s new phone lens, whether raw, #nomakeup or prepared for the dance, you are telling a story. When you post an image, it isn’t a moment, instead, it is a hero, heroine, tragedy or journey revealed.
What do you want to see in this ‘Selfie’?
Do you dare to ask yourself this question?
nosce te ipsum – Know thyself
Socrates and Plato would encourage their readers to understand themselves before contemplating life, community and the universe. From plays to writers, the value in reviewing who we are and what we live for is more a journey of steps than life viewed through a telescope. However, our celebrity-focused lives seem to encourage posturing and seeking after the unattainable.
From Clooney and Beckham to Kardashian and Swift, we see facets of the celebrity life held high as the ‘fountain of youth’ without the battle and sacrifice of the journey. Adobe Photoshop provides a blemish-free complexion while a post edit for video eliminates the words and looks we regret for a faux-pas-free record of life.
Years ago when I was learning broadcast radio I was challenged by my trainer. “You sound just like…”, he said. While there was admiration in the imitation he showed me that I wasn’t been authentic. There was no ‘me’ in the mirror.
As you consider the subject of the selfie today will you see your surface hopes or your deeper real motivations?
About four years ago a good friend took a family photo shoot for us. It was a great day out and we came away with some beautiful shots of the family from group shots, couples, the ‘boys’ and the ‘girls’ as well as some quality individual portraits. Recently I was looking at one shot of myself which was one of those rare “I’m happy with that” photos and I was asking myself what it said about me.
Thankfully, I felt it ticked the boxes on some of the key character traits I feel are in my strengths category. They say the “eyes are the window to the soul”, and when I look into my eyes for this photo I see comfort and contentment. A great place to be at any stage of life.
Why are you taking the ‘Selfie’?
It may seem a strange question, but ask yourself the next time you raise your camera in an outstretched arm, slightly up and to the right, “Why am I doing this?”. Is this for promotion, a lover or friend, updating the family or your network, or have we come to a place where ‘selfies’ are our ‘in-between’ activity solely to fill in time?
As you look at the phone screen next time review in your mind the 10 secrets to a top selfie; smile, eyes, shoulders, bust, fashion, teeth, makeup, pimples, jewellery, tatts and of course nothing embarrassing in the background, simply ‘Why?’.
Some Fashionistas are paid. Others are dreaming. When the Instagrammers are blogging and flogging, are they doing it for the label, the bank balance or the overdraft in their self-esteem?