PhotoMojo: Selfie Confidence

Nov 15, 2017 View Comments by

It’s the craze that’s sweeping the nation! Here’s a selfie of me with friends! Here’s a selfie of me in the bathroom! Here’s a selfie of me in front of a thing that I saw! Here’s a selfie of me with a bacon cheeseburger! Selfie. SELFIE. SELFIE! Love them or hate them, a lot of people are taking selfies. If you want to take better ones, here are some easy tips.

Composition
Many people have this funny habit of holding their camera or smartphone high in the air as they take a selfie and then craning their neck up like a young sparrow waiting for mom to return to the nest with a fresh worm. Or they hold the camera low and point it upwards so that people can count nose hairs. Don’t do either of those things. If you are trying to fit an interesting building or object in the background, remember that the place you stop and decide to take a selfie may not be the best place to take that selfie. Move around until you can create a composition in which the camera is eye-level and the background that you want is in the photo too. That often means walking away from the building until it and your good side fit nicely in the shot. And while you’re at it, don’t put yourself on the lower edge of the photo like some Kilroy; your eyes should be centered vertically in the photo or even higher. And be sure to look at the camera when taking the shot, not your mug on the screen.

Selfie Stick
One of the challenges with selfies is making those mountains/historic buildings/motorcycles in the background look impressive, because more often than not they look small next to your comparatively huge noggin’. There’s a simple reason for that: you’re not an NBA player with a seven-foot wingspan who can hold the camera five feet away. This is where a selfie stick helps. It doesn’t turn you into an NBA player, but it does move the camera farther from you, making you appear smaller in the photo. Most selfie sticks connect to your phone via Bluetooth and have a button to take photos.

Tripod
Before the selfie, there was the self portrait, and one of the ways that people took them was with a tripod. They’d put the camera on the tripod, set up a 10-second timer, hit the shutter, and then hustle into position before the shot was taken. It’s a lot easier these days. A lot of new cameras can be controlled via your smartphone. Other cameras have a built-in intervalometer that lets you take a specific number of photos in a row with a short gap between photos. For example, 10 photos spaced three seconds apart. You can then choose the one you like best. If you are using your phone, you can get an adapter that will mount your phone to a tripod. If you’re really high tech, you can use your smartwatch to tell your phone to take the selfie. Pro tip: As you are setting up your shot, put your helmet or gloves where you want to stand.

Trust a Stranger
Last but not least, unless you are taking a selfie all alone in the 
40-Mile Desert, you can always ask someone else to take the photo. Technically speaking, it’s not a selfie, but at the end of the day a good shot is a good shot. Before asking someone to take the photo, take a test photo to see how it looks. Once you get a good test, ask a willing stranger to take the shot and show them the test shot so that they can mimic it. If you’re lucky, you might even hand your phone to a photographer who knows what they’re doing. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get me.* Not only that, the camera on the back of your phone is usually much better than the camera on the front of your phone, so you’ll get higher image quality.

With these simple tips, you can up your selfie game. Like with most things in life, it’s all about practice. Best of luck!

* I will work for food, specifically bacon cheeseburgers.

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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.