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Selfie Do's and Don'ts

May 2015

This post originally appeared on TwoThousand as natively branded content for the Head On Photo Festival.

Liana Del Cray knows a thing or two about selfies. In her own words, “my camera roll is 99% me.” When she's not wearing waffle robes at an array of tropical holiday destinations, eating delicious snacks or hanging with various cute dogs, Bad Gal LiLi is expertly capturing her best angles in the best available lighting and sharing them with the internet. We asked this emerging force on Instagram to give us some tips on how to perfect the selfie game.

“I’m sorry Liana but WHO CARES?!” my Spanish aunt yelled at me last Sunday. Embarking on a Martha Stewart/Bieber-esque roasting, she ranted about how I spent ten days in Hong Kong taking pictures of myself and what I ate (btw; true). I’m not really sure who cares, but I know that I do. Shortly after leaving her house I received an invitation to share my thoughts on #selfies for The Thousands, talk about timing.

I’m not the only one lighting up your newsfeed. About 93 million selfies are taken every day, which is roughly 65 thousand selfies a minute (and that’s just on androids). The first mirror selfie is traced to a Russian Grand Duchess in 1913 (get it, girl) and as most of you probably know, the word selfie originated in an online forum from Australia (in the context of a bro getting drunk and splitting his face open).

I come from a migrant family who were so proud to have found success in Australia that we took photos of ourselves doing everything, namely at tables full of food and bottles of wine, because my grandparents worked hard and they wanted to remember those moments. Self timer was the weapon of choice in their day.  As a millennial I’ve been taking selfies since I got my first digital (2 megapixal) camera in 2002. I had folders of pictures of myself on MySpace and not much has really changed since then, except the resolution of my camera.

Now, as a 25-year-old woman, I’m pretty used to copping some slack for ~feeling myselfie~. I’m also well versed in an argument that usually leaves people chuckling or willing to let me live. I selfie, therefore I am.

Personally - as an avid social media user - I like to see what people are up to. It’s human nature. It’s the reason big brands speak in the first person or use people to promote their products. It’s the reason bloggers are so highly regarded (by some, not all). Nothing pleases me more than seeing a friend of mine smiling with their child into a front facing camera, than seeing a girlfriend really looking and feeling good and above all else, I see nothing wrong with feeling good about myself and I assume most people have bigger things to worry about than me and myselfie.

The extreme reactions ~selfies~ garner alone is proof that they are evoking an emotional reaction. Whilst Wiz Khalifa thinks Instagram is turning wives into “hoes”, I’m over here all #TeamAmberRose. In no way am I suggesting that posing in a dental floss bikini or obsessing over ones appearance is the answer for everybody, but if you’re someone who does like to share things about yourself, namely pictures, then peruse these “do’s” and “don’t’s”.

DON’T
Take yourself too seriously. It’s not the end of the world. If you’re on social media feeling bad about yourself instead of having fun, a laugh, sharing something that makes you feel good or being inspired, then I’d log off. I’ve made so many friends from all over the world via social media but am also pretty comfortable with the fact that not everyone’s going to like what I’m putting out there. Do not let it get to you because it is not worth it.

DO
Be Kim Kardashian. And if you can’t (which I’m assuming is the case for most), then embrace the selfie for what it is. It’s a photo of yourself. We all know that you took 55 variations of the same pic, chose the best one and applied the best filter. I mean, my camera roll is 99% me, 1% babies, dogs and ice cream. I like to ironically use the #selfie hashtag just incase people aren’t 1000 percent sure that I took the photo of myself. 

DON’T
Pretend you just woke up like this. People know you didn’t. And that’s ok. Don’t post hot gym selfies talking about how much weight you need to lose when you and we all know how good you look. Nobody cares for it and it’s cool to like yourself!

DO
Find good lighting. In the beauty #selfie world, vloggers are so open about finding good lighting. Photographers value lighting, so why shouldn’t you? I recently discovered the light above my cooktop has the best lighting in my unit, which took me 5 years to find because I’m never in the kitchen.

DON’T
Mirror your selfie. This is a completely personal opinion but I just feel like shoving one of my face into someone’s news feed is enough for them. If you do choose to multiply yourself, I find Instagram’s new add-on ‘layout’ to be the easiest to use with the best results.

DO
Find a good backdrop. I often wonder how Da Vinci would feel if he knew that the Mona Lisa is recognisable to Gen Y and Z via a #someoneelsie of Jay Z & Beyonce. That being said, art is usually a pretty good medium to stick your head in front of. It may not have been considered in the original composition but appropriation is an art form in itself, as are you.

DON’T
Upload several variations of the same selfie. Unless you answered yes to “Be Kim Kardashian” in the first do, it’s not very gratuitous to flood the feed or break the internet with yourself.

DO
Embrace the selfie stick. My little brother bought me mine and I’m still too embarrassed to take it out in public, but I’ll get there. The angles you can work with are 10/10 and I can fit super tall people in the frame with me. Just because Museums and the rest of the world is trying to ban them doesn’t mean they’re not the single greatest and most stupid thing ever invented. Just don’t take them where they’re not welcome.

DON’T
Write captions fishing for compliments because your selfie will attract them anyway! ~“Looking AMAZING, hun!”~ ~“No, YOU are!”~ (Even though we're not posting them for the compliments, ok guys?) It’s important to consider your followers as an “audience”. What if your Mum saw it? Your boss? If you’re on a public profile captioning TGIF with ~I hate my job vibes~ is probably not the best look unless you really DGAF; then go for it.

DO
Use lyrics as captions but be careful with cultural appropriating (white people using the N word, pls stahp) and please remember, no matter how many times you use the lyrics as a caption, you did not write 'Anaconda' (but that’s more of a note-to-self). Don’t get your knickers in a knot over captions, because it’s all fun and games. I mean most of us have never been to the 6 but we still got woes.

Liana Del Cray