Selfie Tips: Trepidation from a Baby Boomer and Advice from a Millennial
Step up your selfie game
Annie Tobey: Ready for your closeup? I’m not.
The ease with which young adults take self-portraits and pose for pictures astounds me. I’ve seen a teenage girl break into a beautiful smile, snap her own picture and return to a totally neutral expression in the span of a few seconds. I’ve seen groups of 20-somethings strike the perfect pose when a camera is aimed their way – as if they’ve had professional modeling lessons.
The younger generations have incorporated social media into their social repertoire. They’ve been raised with digital photography, removing the stingy attitude that came with having to pay for prints of every single exposure. I envy their casual mastery of posing for a picture, so I asked a millennial, Boomer web editor Rachel Marsh, to weigh in on this 21st-century skill.
Rachel Marsh: With cameras literally at our fingertips these days, documenting our every move (from our meals to our whereabouts to a good hair day) has become the norm. But taking selfies is not exactly a natural experience, no matter how easy some people make it look.
So I compiled a list of pointers from photographers, models and even Julie Andrews for turning selfie-taking from a chore to an experience that you can’t wait to blast all over social media.
Annie: First off, how about those unwanted chins that like to creep into selfies?
Rachel: It’s all about that angle, baby. Even the thinnest of selfie-takers might sprout an extra chin if the photo is taken from the wrong perspective. But a good angle can help you lose 15 pounds more quickly than Weight Watchers or Spanx.
The best way to hold the camera is at eye level or a bit higher. And stretch your head slightly forward for distance from your neck; this can create the illusion of a longer neck and a more defined jawline (and will give you a singular chin).
As for your face, this is the opportunity to give that good side (hey, we all have one) the attention it deserves. Before snapping, turn your head slightly to the left or the right. A photo straight-on can make features look flat and shallow, but giving your face even a slight tilt adds depth and intensity.
Annie: However, don’t just tilt your face to the side, like a living Leaning Tower of Pisa, as I tend to! Although Fido may look adorable when he cocks his head, it doesn’t have the same effect with humans.
Do you have any lighting tips for us?
Rachel: Natural lighting is definitely a selfie’s greatest companion. The right lighting can reduce undereye circles, brighten eyes and bathe skin in a fresh glow otherwise found only at a makeup counter or in Photoshop.
Natural lighting is ideal, so take advantage of it when available. Try to avoid overhead lighting and direct sunlight, as they can cause a more washed-out appearance. Turn toward the main light source if you want your face to look brighter. If you’re inside, take you and your selfie self to the nearest window for the shot.
Annie: Looks like we have to get over that self-conscious feeling of taking our own picture. Hey, everyone does it, right?
Rachel: And whatever you do, remember the golden rule of selfies: avoid fluorescent lighting at all costs.
Annie: OK, this all makes sense so far. How about the smile?
Rachel: Money is the root of all … good smiles. A smile is the most essential component of a selfie, but we’ve all been victims of the discernibly feigned grin.
So, to look more natural, first relax your face and jaw muscles. Think about something that makes you happy or makes you laugh (puppies, your grandchildren, Tim Conway).
To really sell the smile, don’t forget to smize. This term, coined by actress, model and smile expert Tyra Banks, is all about smiling with your eyes. Squint your eyes using only your lower lids (don’t get those cheeks involved), relax your forehead and voilà! You’re smizing.
Annie: I admit it – I had to Google “Tyra Banks.” All I can say is, “Easy for you to say, Tyra!”
Rachel: And when you smile, treat cheese like you’re lactose intolerant. According to Julie Andrews when advising Stephen Colbert, saying “cheese” for a photo creates a forced expression … but saying “money” makes for a much more authentic grin.
Annie: I envision kids standing unself-consciously in front of a mirror, putting their facial muscles through numerous permutations in order to uncover their best smile, then practicing till it becomes a Pavlovian response to the appearance of a camera. I guess it’s never too late!
Rachel: Like anything in life, repetition is key for improvement. So if at first you don’t succeed … selfie, selfie again.