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LET’S TALK: Selfie tips get the seal of approval

by Helaine Williams | June 28, 2020 at 2:49 a.m.

There were so many observances packed into last weekend, it slipped by me (and probably a whole lot of you) that Father's Day, June 21, was also National Selfie Day.

I found this out via an online story in which Lee Thompson — British cofounder of the Flash Pack company for solo travelers, and famous for being the first person to snap a selfie from the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro — waxes helpful on selfie-taking in "National Selfie Day: An expert's guide to taking epic selfies." The article was published on the Big Day by CNN Travel.

The shot Thompson took of himself was glorious. With the far-below city in the background, he looked as though a sudden gust of wind might be the end of him. But it wasn't that dangerous.

"I had permission to climb to the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue, and I stayed safe," according to Thompson, who was standing securely in a hollowed-out area atop the statue's head. "So don't even think about clambering up that Russian skyscraper. Those stunts are often illegal and preposterously dangerous, and they're no longer original."

Well, good luck with that, seeing that covid-19 rates are going back up, social distancing continues to be pushed, travel restrictions fluctuate accordingly, and so many of us were already empty of pocket. Russian skyscraper indeed.

Most of my selfies have been taken in the bathroom or in a hallway. Background hasn't been my concern. I'm just grateful that it's possible to look thinner in selfies than in photos other people take. I just need to show people I can indeed take a "one-chinner" photo.

For anyone else who might be inclined to get some social-distancing selfies from such exotic locales as the roof, patio, in the tree behind the house, in front of the young 'un's playhouse or with mask on in front of the local Walmart (OK, OK, maybe out in the park down the street) ... here are Thompson's tips:

• "Want the world to see your double chin and those haggard-looking bags under your eyes? Of course, you don't ... Hand-hold your camera and stretch your arm out as long as possible with lots of height." As one whose quest for one-chin selfies is ongoing, the Talkmistress vigorously amens this tip. Do not clutch your camera close and point it up at you, hold it at arm's length and point down. Remember all those times a portrait photographer coaxed you into raising and tilting your head a bit, and you ended up looking like you could carry your young in your chin? This isn't one of them. You can control your image's destiny here.

• "The more photos you take, the more likely one of them is going to be tweetworthy." Amen to this one, too. But don't take a thousand shots of that same expression. Go big-eyed, bedroom-eyed and in between. Tilt your face at different angles. Alternate some Mona Lisas with some grins 'like a mule eating briars." Look aloof in some shots, Gomer-Pyle friendly in others. You're even more likely to get at least one pic you'll like ... and if you're shooting yourself in public, passers-by will definitely leave you alone.

• Be prepared to go blind. "Make sure the light is in front or to the side of you and not behind," writes Thompson. "The last thing you want to do is be silhouetted by the sun." No, you don't want to look like an image in the opening sequence of an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode. Try not to blink as you face the sun, take your shot, and hope the shadow of your arm, hand and/or phone doesn't end up plastered across you.

• "Use a big depth of field. You need to make sure that the prospective audience of your selfie can see the background." Er, you may want to manipulate that camera enough to fool people into thinking you're somewhere more epic than you are.

• "Creating a sense of vertigo, claustrophobia or simply wonderment will bring about a reaction and will always leave a lasting impression. Show some discretion, though." Riiight. If you decide to shoot a selfie in front of a major disaster or a riot, you're liable to get called out. Just find a way to make that roof picture or inside-the-playhouse shot look jaunty.

• Don't use that selfie stick. Saith Thompson: "The secret to my picture was that it looked much scarier than it actually was. The hole in the head that I stood out of was big and safe to stand in, but my shot made it appear like I was teetering on the edge of the statue."I agree: Don't go and buy something you'll never use anyway because, like your umbrella, you'll keep misplacing the thing.

And if you're bummed about missing out on National Selfie Day pics, don't be. Maybe by next June 21, you'll have the clearance and the coinage to get somewhere epic-selfie-


In the meantime ... where's that ladder?

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