As a relatively old, technophobic and camera shy person, selfies were a mystery until I found myself being included in one somewhat against my will.  It was a can’t-really-say-no situation and the photo reflects it:  The other people in the picture are doing their ‘selfie faces’ (see below) and look fabulous.  I look terrified.  Since selfie skills seem to be an essential part of student life circa 2015, I need to address this before moving to Canada.  I should probably research Canadian music education too, but that’ll be easier to blag on the plane if I run out of time.

Here’s what I’ve learned from articles and videos online.  Under 25s and anyone who can actually use their phone properly will know this already so I won’t be offended if you stop reading.

lighting and background

Face directly into or away from the sun.  A flattering light is helpful.  Wind direction is also a consideration, unless you have very short or well-behaved hair.

The background should either be interesting or minimal.  But not so minimal that it looks like you are in prison.

angle and zoom

The camera should be just higher than your line of vision and tilted at 45 degrees.  Tilt your face to show your best side (don’t pretend you didn’t work this out when you were 14).

Eye-line should be off-centre.  This also reduces the chance of looking like a murder suspect.

Hold the camera with both hands to give a frame to the picture and take a photo without dropping your phone.  It will make your shoulders look massive though, so pull them down and back.

selfie face and props

Work out whether you are best suited to a smile, pout, raised eyebrow or open-mouthed-slightly-surprised look.  I chose the latter since it improved my eye:nose ratio more than other expressions (that’s size, not number).  Be aware that your selfie face will look very strange in all other contexts.

Practise this look in front of a mirror until it is second nature.  This is more important than learning scales!  Do not ‘say cheese’ in selfies, even if they told you to for school photos.

Props are good, providing they do not hinder your ability to assume the selfie face.  Glasses are allowed, whatever your grandmother may say about them ‘spoiling your profile’.

shooting and editing

Take three pictures.  Not 300, which is apparently what the celebs do.  And not one, because it will definitely be rubbish.

Edit before sharing.  Lighting, crop and filter effects will help to improve the picture.  Several sources rave about the Valencia setting on Instagram, but Facebook and Twitter are enough sites for me to contend with.

Which leads me on to captions.  Hashtags or a suitably emoticon’d Facebook description are essential.  A picture is only worth a thousand words if it’s accompanied by a 140-character explanation.

And here are the recommendations that were too daft even for me:

Hold a piece of white paper under your chin to illuminate the face:  How am I going to do that AND hold the camera AND manage to smile?

Push your neck forwards to avoid a double chin.  Then book an emergency chiropractic appointment for about an hour after taking the selfie.

Have messy hair for a ‘just got out of bed’ look.  Why does the world need to see this?  There is enough tragedy on our planet already.

Research done, hairdressers visited (I haven’t listed that as an essential part of the process, but it can’t hurt), I began my selfie-shoot.  Then stopped when I was heckled by a teenage boy.  I tried again in a coffee shop, but got disapproving glares from the other customers.  Photos finally taken, the editing process raised fears about my wonky eyebrows/short neck/weird gaze.  So, with my self-esteem lowered to that of a typical adolescent, I present you my #summer2015 #selfies.  And I say a prayer of thanks that selfie-sharing did not exist when I was young enough to have taken it seriously. #olderandwiser.

selfie 1 selfie 2 selfie 3


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