The selfie. 93 million are taken daily, and the Oxford English Dictionary dubbed it ‘word of the year’ in 2013. There is no doubt that the art of capturing an image of oneself has become an everyday way of life. Perfected over hundreds of years, even before the internet came into existence, the selfie began as self-portraiture. Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh led the way with a full collection of self-portraits created as a method of introspection in the 1800’s. Mexican painter Frida Kahlo told her story and expressed her emotions in many of her works— of note, her ‘Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird’ painting. Once on canvas, it has now gone digital. Revolutionized by technology, the iPhone with its front-facing camera has lead the way.
A debate has arisen because of this: Those viewing the selfie as a form of self-expression and those seeing it as a mechanism to feed the ego. “A selfie can tell a lot about a person. It shares their story in that given moment and allows you to see right through their personality,” says Emirati figure skater and the first ever athlete to compete internationally wearing a hijab, Zahra Lari. “I always take selfies with my iPhone after every competition but I never edit them. I find that putting them as they are shows the genuineness of the moment, the real picture,” she explains.
Emirati Film Director and Producer Nayla Al Khaja shares a different perspective, believing instead that selfies have an ego-based attribution or a ‘self-serving bias’. She says “Living in the age of swift results, quickness, and constant exhibitionists; the selfie serves those who could be classified as borderline narcissists. It also serves as a visual diary for those who are merely documenting their daily lives to justify their presence and create a dent of impact to the millions out there. The rest, I feel, do it as they want to fit in.”
Offering a glimpse into their daily lives, celebrities from Kim Kardashian West to Huda Kattan have also helped popularize the selfie. Not to mention models at the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2016 ready-to-wear show taking selfies mid-runway. Encouraging everyone else to follow suit, it can be debated that this is a form of expression. Allowing people to share their experiences with others. Being brought up with a conservative background, Lari understands the restrictions assigned by societies and the importance of overcoming them. “I think selfies have given people the ability to speak out and be understood by the masses. In my culture, not everyone is confident enough to express themselves in a very open and public manner. A selfie empowers them to do that.”
Whether you’re a selfie fan or not, it appears with new technology on the horizon the art of self-portraiture is not set to die down anytime soon.
6 Tips for Taking the Perfect Selfie
1. Prep your iPhone. Editing apps are often key to the perfect selfie. Head to the App store and get downloading.
2. Lighting is everything. Natural light is your best friend. If you’re indoors, find a window for some sunlight. This will brighten your face and limit shadows.
3. Shoot in Portrait Mode. The iPhone X, with its advanced Portrait Lighting, captures studio quality selfies. Choose your favorite lighting effect from Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, and Stage Light Mono.
4. Out of arm’s way. Don’t extend your arm all the way. Bend your elbow, hold the phone or camera facing you and keep your arm away from your hip.
5. Smile like you mean it. There’s nothing prettier than a genuine smile.
6. Find your good side. Straight from the Queen of selfies herself, Kim Kardashian West always advises to look up at the camera (holding it above the face level), and keep your chin down to get the best selfie shot.