All you need to know about selfies… to win a new camera

With the launch of APH’s Summer Selfie competition, we thought we’d take a look at this modern-day phenomenon and even get a few tips for taking that winning selfie. Here’s all you’ll need to know…

All you need to know about selfies

All you need to know about selfies

So, what’s a selfie?

First up, to be in with a chance of bagging top prize in our Summer Selfie comp, we’ll need to know what we’re dealing with. Here’s how Wikipedia defines a ‘selfie’…

‘A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr.’

Purists will also tell you that selfies should not be confused with mirror shots or snaps taken by a third party.

A brief history of the selfie

Everyone who's anyone is doing the 'selfie thing'

Everyone who’s anyone is doing the ‘selfie thing’

Now we’re clear on what it is, here’s some background on where and why the selfie has become embedded in the psyche of everyone from teens to tech-savvy octogenarians.

2005: ‘Selfie’ is used by Richard Krause in a ‘how to’ photography guide, highlighting the excitement of surprise that such photos can bring.
Feb 2007: A user of the photo-sharing website Flickr creates a group named ‘selfie shots’, with the definition of such shots a pictures taken with an ‘arm in an extended posture.

Indonesian maraque borrowed a tourist's camera and took this selfie

Indonesian maraque borrowed a tourist’s camera and managed to take several selfies in 2011

June 2010: Apple’s iPhone 4 is released with a basic front-facing camera that was designed to help users take advantage of video-calling tech such as Facetime and Skype, but it also allowed owners to see what they were taking when composing selfies.

October 2010: Photo sharing and filter site Instagram launched – gaining 100million users by mid-2012. The app helps users enhance photos with various filters directly from their smartphones. An indication of the popularity of this type of self-portrait can be seen by the fact that more than 23million photos have been uploaded to the app with the ‘#selfie’ hashtag.
March 2013: The Daily Mail publishes its first selfie-devoted editorial with the writer claiming: ‘It’s as though a whole generation of teenage girls has lost the ability to smile naturally.’ He was referring to the legendary ‘selfie pout’ that infects anyone attempting to take such a self-portrait.

April 2013: The Samsung Galaxy S4 hits the shops – with it 2 megapixel front-facing camera.

June 13: Instagram launches a 15-second video feature, yet the video selfie fails to grab the imagination or have the impact of the traditional snapshot of life.

Our Summer Selfie heroes

See just some of the people who’ve entered our Summer Selfie competition. Join the fun and get snapping. Have a look at the pics below then click here to enter.

How to take the perfect selfie


So, just how do you look good and compose the perfect selfie. Here’s how to harness your hi-def camera so it highlights your film-star potential while subtly ignoring the odd cosmetic imperfection…

Find your best side

Find your best side: Everyone has a good side, so make sure you take advantage of your flattering features by always making this the dominant side in all selfies. Shooting your photo from slightly above – with the camera tilted at 45-degrees will have the effect of making your face look slimmer. If you are including your torso, then push your neck out a little, which will help hide the small bulge beneath your chin. Never consider taking the photo from below your eye line, this will add pound and make your face look artificially bloated.


Lighting: Never take a selfie using a built in flash – it’s sure to end in tears. Instead, always attempt to use natural light. Standing next to a window will give your selfie a soft and natural look, while eliminating darks shadows – like the ones under your eyes.

Photo filters

Filters: For those taking selfies on a smartphone – and most will be – harness the power of photo editing apps such as Instagram to add filters. These can add softness to photos that will ease harsh lighting and even improve your skin complexion – giving it a warm, smoothing glow. They will also help give a natural ‘cool’ ambience – because trying too hard when the shutter clicks will always result in the very ‘uncool’.

Top tip 1: Swerve the Instagram crowd and its overused filters by looking at photo editing apps such as Photo FX and Photoshop Touch for the iPhone.
Top tip 2: Filters can be fun, but if your selfie starts to look like it’s employed the special effects techniques used by a 1970s episode of Doctor Who, you’ll know it’s time to hit delete and use a little restraint.

Seriously uncool

Seriously uncool: Gazing demurely into the great blue yonder really won’t make you look cool. Selfies should always look like you just grabbed your phone, aimed it at your face and clicked the shutter. You’ll take many you hate, but more often than not, you’ll snap the perfect picture that encapsulates the moment and the location and you – in a way that a soulless, carefully posed shot never could. Don’t take yourself too seriously – it’s meant to be fun.

Background checks

Background checks: It’s true that selfies are supposed to be about ‘the moment’, but confusing banality with spontaneity will leave you with little selfie-respect. You might be having a great hair day that needs to be shared with your devoted followers, but reaching for the camera and self-snapping your do with a backdrop of crumpled used pants on the bathroom floor will seriously diminish the glamour. Don’t try too hard to find amazing backgrounds – it’ll make your shots look contrived, but make sure you do consider what’s lurking behind as you snap away.

Composition, composition, composition

Composition, composition, composition
Framing a selfie with your face slap bang in the middle of the frame looks a little uninspiring, which is why photographic boffins came up with the ‘rule of thirds’ to add tension and drama to photos. It’s particularly useful for holiday selfies where stunning backgrounds can help make a great photo. Here is how it’s explained by Wikipedia…

The rule of thirds is a “rule of thumb” or guideline which applies to the process of composing visual images such as designs, films, paintings, and photographs. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.[2] Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centring the subject would.

Here is an example of what it means

Rule of thirds grid - use iPhone settings to turn on the grid on your phone: image and credit</a

Rule of thirds grid – use iPhone settings to turn on the grid on your phone: image and credit

Top tip: If you’ve got an iPhone, the standard camera app has a feature that lets you turn on a rule of thirds grid – helping you compose great selfies and photos in general. Here’s how to turn it on…
1) Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
2) Scroll down and tap on Photos & Camera.
3) Scroll down to the bottom of the page and under the Camera section, there is an option for Grid. Turn the feature on by tapping on the slider.

Tell a story

Tell a story: Great composition or a pretty face won’t make a great selfie. We love photos that tell a story… be it part of a journey, holiday or event, make the photo work to capture the atmosphere and the moment. Remember, if life’s a little dull, taking a picture and sharing it will only spread the tedium.

All you need to know

Here are the facts and figures you need to know when it comes to selfies…

Graphic by Liz Winstone

Graphic by Liz Winstone

Selfie apps

Want to take some great selfies? Give these apps a try.


Facetune: This app is a Photoshop-like offering that can help you give nature a helping hand and smooth wrinkles, whiten teeth and remove red eye, among other things. Great for those morning after the night before selfies…
Get it here


Frontback: If you want to take a selfie with a difference, this is the app for you. The screen is split to show what’s going on from both sides of the camera. You get your selfie, but extra insight and more of the story by seeing what the ‘selfie’ subject is is seeing. Confused? Just look at the pic for an explanation.
Get it here


Shots: This selfie-only sharing website is not overly remarkable in itself, but one thing makes it stand out – no comments are allowed. We all like the idea of sharing pics, but the inevitable tirade of cruel abuse from anonymous users who have nothing better to do than upset people can be seriously off-putting for many. This is the perfect place to deposit your selfies.
Get it here


SnapDash: Need a little inspiration when taking your selfies? SnapDash will suggest scenarios for your pics – such as you’re about to be eaten by a shark. Probably best saved for post-pub selfie sessions, perhaps?
Get it here


Everyday: If you want to take a selfie every day and create a montage or video of you growing a beard, travelling the world, this is the perfect app. It had a grid and overlay from the previous pic so you can perfectly align your pics throughout the project. We’d like to see one of these in our Summer Selfie comp.
Get it here

Me, my selfie and I…

Artist Karl Baden started taking selfies on Feb, 23, 1987 and carried on for 27 years. He put all the selfies into a two-minute movie. See his life in selfies here.

The 'selfie' toaster... it's genuine

The ‘selfie’ toaster… it’s genuine

And finally… The Selfie toaster

Have you got a favourite selfie? Well now you can get the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corp to create a toaster that’s programmed to burn your selfie pic into your morning slice of toast.

Can you think of a better way to start the day than eating a freshly buttered piece of toast personalised with your very own smiling face?

How much: It’ll cost you just £45.00.



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