“Selfie” made headlines when it was named the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013. Oxford defines the word as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
I am known in our household as being selfie challenged. Did you ever see the episode of Friends where Chandler can’t pose for a decent engagement photo? I’m kind of like that with selfies, but my problem is I can’t seem to look at the camera properly. My eyes are up, down, and sideways, even after one of my family members points to the camera and urges me to “look here, look RIGHT HERE!” My daughters (ages 17 and 22) are expert selfie-ers, so I’m thinking maybe it’s a generational problem. With that in mind, as well as the saying “those who can do, do and those who can’t, teach,” here is my Baby Boomer’s Guide to Selfies.
Step One: Know how to switch your camera from regular camera mode so it points at you. On an iPhone, there is an icon of a camera with two arrows in a circle located in the upper right corner of the camera screen. Click on that, and the camera lens will turn toward you. Click it again and it will turn back to normal mode.
Step Two: Make sure your camera is set on photo and not video. This is surprisingly more difficult than it may seem. Since the last major iPhone upgrade, my camera seems to slide into video mode if I breathe on it. And I’m not the only one. At prom photos Saturday night, I heard the plaintive cry of a frustrated mom, “How do I get this out of video?!?” I was able to spring to the rescue and show her how to do the slidey thing at the bottom that is really not intuitive at all.
Step Three: Decide on a pose. Roughly 98% of all selfie subjects, by my scientific estimation, choose an expression of big-eyed surprise or kissy lips. Or both. I’ve been informed that doing a thumbs up is passé.
Step Four: Actually take the picture. Helpful tip for iPhone users: when in camera mode, instead of pushing the round button on the screen to take a picture, you can also click the top button on the side (the one that makes the volume increase). This can be super handy if you are selfie challenged like me (see above). And my foolproof solution to the wandering eye problem? Sunglasses.
Step Five: Decide on photo modifications. Back in the day, we had color photos and black and white photos. Now you can crop, filter, enhance, tilt, and more to your heart’s content. There are actually three subsets to this step: 1) choosing which photo editor to use, 2) having some proficiency in using it, and 3) having some artistic ability so the final result is aesthetically pleasing (by however you define that). See this example of how Instagram filters can change the appearance of your photo. (BTW—these are Mother’s Day flowers from my hubby and darling daughters.)
Step Six: Decide what social network is the lucky recipient of this fine work (Instagram seem to be the current flavor-of-the-day), the right time of day to post it to generate maximum “likes,” and the minimum number of “likes” you need before you decide the photo was a failure and you need to delete it in shame. Again, I’m guessing this is a generational thing, so if you don’t care about social standing within your peer group, feel free to disregard this step.
So there you go. Selfies. Have fun and good luck.