I cannot take a decent selfie!

Oh for crying out loud! I’m a photographer. So why can’t I take a decent selfie???

This morning I attempted to take a selfie to share with my friend Shirley. I just purchased another LipSense lipstick from her (product plug – it’s awesome!) and I wanted to show her how the color looked on me. A quick selfie should do the trick. Yeah, right!  At least fifty photos later, I still haven’t taken a single photo that I’m willing to share. Why? Well, here are my thoughts…

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Unless you take them all the time, selfies can be tough for anyone. My iPhone camera roll is interspersed with huge blocks of at least 30 photos of myself that I would never want anyone else to see.  Anyone else scrolling through my photos would think I’m a narcissist. When I actually would have gladly stopped taking them if I could have settled on a single image that I liked or even tolerated.

First off, there’s the fact that we never see ourselves exactly the way the world sees us. When I pose for a selfie, the camera image is mirrored, so you would think that the photo would be as acceptable to me as my reflection in the mirror. But nope. Some terrible thing happens once I capture the image, and suddenly my jaw looks too big, so I tilt my head and then it’s too small. Or my eyes look sadder, or my nose is too pointy. Where did those forehead wrinkles come from all of a sudden and what is up with that smirk? Do I always do that?

And then there’s the lens. The iPhone lens, for example, is the equivalent of a 35mm lens on a camera. For those of you who don’t know as much about photography, when I take portraits I usually use a 50mm or 85mm lens. I won’t get into the specifics of compression, but just suffice it to say that these are the flattering, creamy lenses. A 35mm lens is wider (the lower the number, the wider the lens), which makes it great for getting more people in a shot, or for taking photos of scenery. But using a 35mm lens close-up (selfie distance for example) results in some distortion. Features in the middle of the photo will be larger than the rest of your face, and a tilt of the head can add some pretty drastic changes to the way you look. This is why I struggle with either my chin or my forehead looking too big. People who are great at taking selfies have mastered getting their most flattering angle.

Okay – so knowing these things, I tried extending my arm way out – but then my big old shoulder is in the shot. A selfie stick is probably a decent solution here, but as I implied earlier, I don’t take selfies all the time, so a selfie stick is not something I ever invested in. I tried every possible tilt of my head, but there was always something wrong.

I gave up. Enter my DSLR camera on a tripod and an 85mm lens. I use a really cool setup called the Cam Ranger (another product plug – it too is awesome!) which allows me to control focus and other settings from an iPad, while I’m sitting in front of the camera. I’m a professional photographer, darn it. I can use my professional equipment. Let’s just call it a perk.

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Whew! I finally have a self portrait I can tolerate.

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I just thought I’d share the story, in case it makes you feel any better. Because, even for us professional photographers, selfies can be rough.