Bizarrely for such an ugly bugger, Steve Davey has taken a fair few self portraits over the years. Here are his tips for the shooting the perfect selfie!

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Although it might sound like something that should only be carried out in the privacy of your own home, it seems that the world has gone selfie crazy. Usain Bolt, Michelle Obama and the Pope have all posed for selfies: it is even the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2013.

People have been shooting selfies for many years, but with film cameras, they were always a leap of faith. With the advent of digital photography and front facing cameras, they have become easier, and social media sites like twitter and Instagram means that they are more popular than ever.

Selfies can be a great way of documenting your travels. Crucially it means that you can be in the photograph, along with your fellow travellers; yet without having to give your camera to some random stranger and trust their creativity, competence and, above all, honesty! But how can you avoid looking less like some self-obsessed celebrity and more like the cool traveller you want to be? Here are my top ten rules for shooting the perfect selfie.

 

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1). Think about the background.
Strangely travel selfies are not just about you; they are about where you are, and what you are doing. Try to compose your picture to include a significant background to tell the story about what is going on and what you are up to. This will make your selfies more interesting and will help to create a record of your travels.

2). Don't be so vain!
If you are using a phone camera or a camera with a reversible screen then look at the actual camera and not the screen! If you are so obsessed with what you look like at the moment you take the picture, then you won't get good eye contact. Look at the screen when you are composing, and then simply start posing!

3). Get an extension
Phone cameras can be great for taking easy and quick selfies, but they are limited to the length of your arms! If you want to be able to go for more creative shots then you might find that a mini tripod might give you more options. It will allow you to set up your camera and then pose yourself in the scene. Most cameras have a self-timer and you can download self-timer apps for phones, but you will be able to pose further from the camera if you have a remote release. If you do put your camera on a tripod and walk away, make sure that no-one is around to run away with your camera.

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4). Shoot higher not lower
Try to hold the camera slightly above your face and avoid shooting from a lower angle. Even the most svelte of people can end up with multiple chins if they are photographed from below. Shooting from higher will also allow you to avoid backlighting when the light comes from behind you creating a silhouette, and allow you to include a significant background in the picture.

5). Avoid using the front camera if you can
Many phones and tablets have two cameras: the front cameras is usually lower quality than the main camera, and are intended mainly for video calls. If you want to go for the highest resolution and the best quality pictures then make sure to use the main camera. It is also a little more of a challenge if you can't see the image you are taking, and it will help you to avoid the temptation of staring lovingly at yourself instead of looking into the camera.

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6). Avoid your arms
I am sure that your arms are perfectly beautiful; but too many selfies seem to have crooked, out of focus elbows taking up a large part of the frame. Unless you have the prettiest elbows in the world, or some incredible tattoos then try to hold the camera in such a way as to keep your arms out of the picture. You can even buy a selfie-stick, which allows you to hold your camera at a distance - even though it sounds like a way of spanking yourself.

7). Think about lighting
Professional photographers will often spend hours setting up studio lighting to make their subject look as good as possible. You won't be able to do this, but you should think about the lighting. Try to make sure that you are lit with similar light to the background: if you are in shadow and the rest of the scene is in bright light then the contrast will be too great. Also try to avoid being lit directly from above, unless you want to look like a heroin addict; or from directly below, unless you want to look like a zombie. Flash light used from up close is also fairly uncomplimentary - avoid using it if you can.

8). Don't pose and pucker
If you pose too much and suck your cheeks in when you take a picture then you can end up looking like Posh Spice sucking a lemon. A fish pout doesn't even look that enticing on a fish; use one on a selfie and you will look like you are trying far too hard.

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9). Be imaginative
You don't just have to shoot standard selfies: try to take your camera with you when you carry out various activities on your travels. You pictures will be far more exciting, and it will be a chance to record your reactions for posterity. I have taken selfies whilst bungy jumping, diving and whitewater rafting. I even tried to take a selfie whilst running across a bull ring in the South of France, being chased by a bull! The only limit is your imagination; and probably your common sense!

10). Think of a theme
Try to think up a theme for your pictures, so that they can all work together when you show them off. One great idea that I have seen was someone shooting identical selfies from the same angle, but in front of different backgrounds throughout a trip. These were all put together in an animation, and as the photographer didn't shave for the entire trip, his beard grew before my very eyes!

 

Story first appeared in Get Lost Magazine, Australia

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better travel photography•COM

Shooting the Perfect Selfie

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 1990 - 2017

Click on one of the links below to see the feature:

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A Lesson In Copyright

Shooting the perfect Selfie

 

Story Behind the Picture

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02 - Hanoi Moto Taxi

03 - Carnaval de Binche

04 - Petra Star trails

05 - Laos Alms Round

06 - Madagascar Chameleon

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