When you're checking your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever social network site you use, you'll always see selfies. The phenomenon officially received a name in August when it was included in OxfordDictionaries.com and caught on so quickly that it became the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year just three months later.
The look tells the tale
Myspace was arguably the first platform where selfies were shared online. From the first shot-from-above-at-arm's-length selfie to today's "duck face", with lips pursed to look as plump as possible, and "sparrow face", with eyes opened wide to look as innocent as possible, selfies have become just a normal daily activity. Now there are even professional selfie studios such as Phocus, co-founded by Lawrence Lau, that help people find their best selfie angle. "Selfies look more confident because it's not a stranger who's taking the photo of you. They're always better looking because you'll take a photo of yourself only when you look good," says Lau.
How to make yours good
Anyone can take a selfie, but how do you take a great one?
"There are just two factors you need to think about when taking a selfie: light and angle" says Michelle Chau, the other co-founder of Phocus and a selfie pro.
"First [thing to think about is] the light; you don't want to use bright fluorescent light unless you have perfect skin. That's because it'll show all your imperfections, and you want your selfie to look perfect."
So, unless you won the genetic lottery and have flawless skin, use a dimmer light and shine it from the back and not straight onto your imperfect face.
Once you have good lighting, the next step is thinking about the angle.
"Most people look better looking slightly downwards so that your double chin and nostrils won't show, and stick your neck out a bit to really make sure you don't produce a double-chin effect," Chau says. "And if you have a nice jaw line, show it off by turning slightly away from the camera while still looking at it.
"It's also common among Asian girls to widen their eyes to make them look bigger. There are even photo booths, like those Japanese sticker photo booths, that make your eyes bigger in the photo."
People dim their lights and take a photo of themselves sticking their necks out for a good reason.
"It's really all about just having fun and capturing that fun memory," Lau says. "You usually take selfies when you're at a nice place or having fun, which is why we also provide fun props like Pikachu costumes to make it even more fun."
You also need selfies for your pages on social networking sites. "You need a profile picture for any social network page, whether it be something casual, like Facebook, or more professional, like LinkedIn," says Lau. "A selfie is basically a profile picture, and if you have practice taking selfies and know how to look good in photos, you'll have an awesome profile picture."
So, not only do you want to show off to your Facebook friends how good looking you are, but also to your employers that you are presentable.
It's important to keep in mind the type of selfies you take as you get older, because social media is so powerful now that even possible employers will google you to get a sense of what you're like before offering you an interview or position.
A gorgeous selfie with perfectly pouted lips and wide-eyed innocence is no problem in a Facebook album, but you may not want that same shot on your student or employee ID down the road.