Surely you’ve heard people calling a selfie as something superficial, a beautification of the mundane, and an activity that can potentially harm life, relationships, and our links with the future. Come on, a selfie isn’t a villain but a quaint art-form that is still evolving. I would rather say that seeing a good selfie is similar to hearing flowers slurp dew-drops or blades of grass nod agreeably making all the right sounds of approval when there is a cool wind blowing across. A selfie is like knowing and understanding that even moments lovingly caress feelings. Crestless Wave, an online friend once wrote to me, “Ever wondered why the front camera of cellphones makes people look better while the rear camera makes them look how they are? Because when you click picture using front camera, you see yourself on screen, and that’s how you should look at yourself, a better version of yourself. Whereas, the rear camera shows how others see you… with all your flaws and qualities. No added layer to hide or enhance your own self. This is how you should learn to overcome your flaws and better your qualities.” I guess it is only valid to pronounce that selfies too have a lot to offer as a teacher besides bringing so much joy to our lives.
I remember the time when we were walking around the University of York in UK a couple of years back and remembering all the good times we had there more than two decades ago. We were the youngsters then and Specky, my wife was a Commonwealth scholar there. As I was walking a bit faster, I stopped for a moment and looked back… and that was when I saw the name of the university looking at me with a smile that almost said, ‘Hey! You are surely not going to return to London without a selfie with me. Come on, click one for old times’ sake.’ And the picture that we then clicked is one of the selfies that takes us back in time… puts back the clock ina good-natured sort of way… and brings a smile into our conversations. And then there were other selfies too that we clicked that day. One with the ruins of the Abbey in the background and another with the main hall and the lake in the university creating the best ripples I have ever seen. We were so carried away by our love for selfies that I went on and clicked on with the train that was to take us back to London.
There are, of course quite a few other selfies that stay on to talk to us and one of those is a charming selfie moment that I captured on my DSLR when my son Pushkin and his wife Monika stood in front of the Taj Mahal and were in the act of clicking a selfie. Another selfie that is my favourite is one where my nephew had a terracotta lid with a hole held in front of the lens of his smartphone as he clicked a selfie… and the miniature image that one sees with the texture of terracotta surrounding it, is simply awe-inspiring!
By the way, every time I have clicked a selfie, I know there are vital lessons in photography that have revealed themselves to me. I have made my selfie notes on my Surface Pro 4 and these are included in this essay, but if I am asked to write a few of the most interesting tips on my selfie experience, they would be:
- A selfie isn’t always about ME. I mean, I can stand there clicking a selfie with the camera angled in a way that it captures a lot more than just my face. There is one such selfie included in my notes where the image of freshly-made gur (jaggery) is happily beaming at those who will look at this picture.
- Of course, the real pro selfie-takers know that a camera needs to held high and a bit away from the body. The people in the shot need to be unaware of the moment the shot is clicked. The background image must connect with the expressions or actions to complete the story. And finally, the light conditions need to be good.
- The secret to great selfies is to be dramatic, bold, and full of intuitive experimentation. Do not be afraid to experiment. For instance, I once saw a fellow traveler hold his selfie stick behind his back as he wanted to click one with him looking out at the distant horizon as he sat precariously on top of a boulder on a mountain.
- Why be afraid of numbers? Click as many selfies as possible and then sift through them to choose and keep the best. Obviously, a selfie not shared isn’t a selfie that is happy.
- Being comfortable with clicking selfies with both the right and left hand can be quite an advantage, let me add.
Now that a part of my notes that are there in the pictures are neatly typed for easy reading, let me add that one of the ways that selfies have evolved is through technology innovations.
How does technology help?
Years back I had a smartphone that had a pathetic front or what we call the selfie camera today. Companies never cared for this front camera that was existing with under-nourished lenses, weak pixel strength, and absolutely no talent for clicking in low light. Over the years, it is technology research that has helped the front camera get wilder, stronger, sturdier, more intuitive, and… and then I read about MOBIISTAR. Hey, I have a feeling that their team has read my mind because one of the things that I have mentioned in my selfie notes is the advantage of a 120 degree span for the front camera. This span ensures that even larger groups are captured well… and, as in the case of my selfie with the train in UK, even the engine gets an honorable appearance!
Technology is definitely an inherent part of the entire debate or conversation on selfies and we are a point today where a larger angle, a better performance in low light, reasonably good pixel strength, and the ability to click smashing bokehs are all a part of the selfie culture. Selfie Smartphones without these benefits are surely going to lose out.
By the way, let also add here that a great smile for a selfie is beneficial so long as the smile stays on even after a selfie has been clicked… or a selfie will simply remain a reality that is sometimes a beautiful illusion. Got it?
22 May 2018