Two of my cameras, the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and E-PL6 have flip screens. You can turn them 180 degrees and aim them at yourself. Advertised as “selfie-friendly,” I felt obliged to personally test the function for myself.
My results were traumatic and be forever engraved in my memory. All else may fade, but I will still shudder when I think about those hideous pictures.
From this test, I reached a few conclusions that I will share with you.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU TAKE THAT SELFIE
A few guidelines, as it were, about who should take selfies. Who should not. Ever. Take. Selfies.
- If you’re over 65, it’s a bad idea. On principle.
- If you don’t own a real camera and have no idea what I’m talking about when I say “flattering angle,” “portrait lens,” or “good lighting,” selfies are a very bad idea.
- Just because your camera (or phone) is “selfie-friendly” does not mean your face is. Have a friend take your picture. Preferably a friend who knows how to use a camera.
- Wrinkles and selfies go together like oil and water. Actually, oil and water go together much better than wrinkles, wattles, liver spots — and selfies.
- Your arms are too short. I don’t care who you are. Your arms are still too short. If you are over 50, you would need to be ElastiGirl (or Guy). Otherwise, your arms are too short.
- Nothing will compensate for the bags under your eyes, the deep folds of your throat. The furrows where your chin droops. It isn’t about fat or thin. You can be young and fat and look pretty good in a selfie. You can be slender, fit, and 75 … and look like a zombie who hasn’t eaten a good brain lately.
- Touch up tools are not enough. If the picture is awful, there’s only so far Adobe’s Healing Tools … or even the Glamour Glow filter … can take you. If the picture is horrible, touching it up will make it a touched up yet somehow, still horrible, picture.
If youth is a faded memory, don’t take selfies. If you cannot resist the temptation, filter the hell out of them. Whatever you’ve got in your photographer’s arsenal of touch-up tools? Use them. Liberally.
What? You don’t have photo touch-up tools? You are a senior citizen taking selfies using your mobile phone? Are you deranged? If you are not outright traumatized, you will be at least saddened by the experience. It will make you doubt yourself.
Don’t do it. You will look bad, even if you are really attractive. The camera is cruel and it lies, no matter what anyone says. It emphasizes wrinkles, spots, flaws, fat, bags, and bald spots. It doesn’t see you with an overlay of love.
I see selfies posted on Facebook. Most are awful. I cringe when I see them. What are the people who post them thinking? I don’t need to know the individual to recognize an unflattering picture. These shots aren’t merely unflattering, they are cruel. Why would someone post a picture which makes him or her look terrible?
Selfies are usually extreme closeups — which by itself is a reason to shy away from them. Anyone who has ever worked in front of a camera will tell you: extreme closeups are for the very young. With makeup. And excellent lighting.
Everyone else? It will look like a prison intake photo in which even youth may not be enough to save the picture.
Meanwhile, the friends of the folks in these godawful photographs tell them that their beautiful soul is shining through, another way of saying “Omigod you look horrible, but I can’t say that because it would hurt your feelings.”
I have a hot flash for you. Your beautiful soul is not shining through, but your wart with the bristly hairs is. Photographs do not capture your soul, just your image. If you need a picture of yourself and there is no one on earth you can ask to hold the camera a decent distance away, have you heard of a mirror? Step back, get some perspective. Maybe turn your head so you get rid of that “America’s Most Wanted” look. Do not use a flash.
How about some makeup? Do you own a hairbrush? Would you consider using it?
Don’t wear white. If you have an unfortunate neck, wear a scarf. Jewelry can help. Earrings can work wonders.
Guys? Shave. Trim the beard. Remove the nose hairs. How about putting on something attractive? That wife-beater shirt might not be your best choice for a self-portrait.
Why do people think it’s cheating to look good for portraits? Is there some law which requires full, naked disclosure in photographs?
I delete ugly pictures of me, Garry, family and friends who look grotesque in pictures. I use all the tools at my disposal — filters, healing brushes, soft focus — to make the subjects of my portraits look attractive. Not necessarily young. Just nice. Because we all deserve it.
Putting your best foot forward is legal. It’s good. Try it. It will make you smile. Oh, and that’s another thing. Smile. A smile makes everybody look better.
Now, put down that cell phone. Back away. Don’t make me hurt you.