It was bound to happen: Our self-involved society found the ultimate way to pay homage to itself with the introduction of the instant self-portrait. You’ve seen the signs: someone’s arm springs forth with a small camera or phone and clicks can be heard throughout the land! Next thing you know, that shot may make smartphone rounds and/or travel at the speed of light across social networking sites. The selfie craze was bound to invade the world running scene, so learn a little more about this phenomenon before your next race.
What’s a Selfie?
It’s a self-portrait taken by a camera phone or digital camera that is saved, transmitted to others or it can land on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Tumblr and other trending social networking sites. Your English teacher would applaud your use of pluralising and using the proper words for ‘wefie’ and ‘usie’! Some selfies and wefies are flattering; others not so much. However you define them, selfies are here to stay. By the way, here’s a factoid for you: University of Parma scientists studied selfies and concluded that there’s a “slight bias for showing the left cheek” when one snaps a selfie.
History of Selfies
Impress others by telling them that the first selfie as taken in 1839 by photographer Robert Cornelius. Back then, the art was called daguerreotype photography, and while most professional photographers captured images of clients, Cornelius became his own favourite model by literally running back and forth before the camera for a full minute while repeatedly uncovering and covering the lens until his image registered on a plate. Would anyone have this much patience today? Not likely. As for the guy responsible for putting “selfie” into contemporary dictionaries, credit American photographer Jim Krause who came up with the term in 2005.
Psychology of Selfies
According to Psychology Today magazine, the world is “awash” in selfies! These shots have assumed a role in our lives that grows increasingly important because they represent the shooter/subject in personal ways. Selfies assume “a level of self-conscious authenticity” that is different from candid photos because they are raw and imperfect. Avid selfie takers might exhibit self-indulgent or attention-seeking behaviors if there’s no context associated with them, but on the other hand, author Dr. Pamela Rutledge says that while there are some unfortunate usages of selfies, they can be harmless fun—which is exactly why you are eager to take selfies on the fly at your next running event.
Selfies and Runners
There’s an interesting number of selfie-related injuries being reported by the media, which is why runners need to be extra cautious when wielding a camera or phone during a run, marathon or workout. In July 2014, a Filipino schoolgirl died after losing her balance while snapping a wefie of herself and a friend posing on the run. In another case, students taking selfies and running down railroad tracks were killed by a train in Uttar Pradesh. Far be it from us to scare you, but it’s important to be aware of the fact that selfies on the run, literally and figuratively, require lots of caution so you’re a finisher, not a frequent aide station visitor!
How to Prepare
Forgive us if we mix common sense tips with suggestions for getting your selfies, but you might be surprised to find that even the simplest action could ruin your intention to take selfies and wefies at an upcoming event.
First, don’t assume that your camera or phone are ready to start snapping if you have a habit of forgetting to charge your phone or replace dead camera batteries! Check your equipment at the same time you pack your gym bag.
Next, prepare yourself mentally for the spilt second you stop dead for a moment to focus on your face, and we don’t have to remind you to make sure that there’s a safe pocket in your running garments in which to stow your gadget while you’re focused on the run, right?
Take Great Shots
Here are some tips for taking a great selfie shot:
- Selfie-takers tend to capture more of their left cheek than the right as mentioned earlier, so if this is your bad side, remember to adjust your head before you click the shutter.
- Avoid blurred images by tapping your phone or slightly depress the shutter seconds before you shoot your selfie so the image has a better chance of being clear, sharp and in focus.
- Avoid “goose head” when taking wefies: Ask everyone to cuddle up—not just lean in—or you risk a portrait of people with elongated necks.
- Bracket, bracket, bracket. In photography lingo, this means take multiples of the same shot to increase your chances that one of them will be perfect.
Need Posing Tips?
There’s nothing like a lush background to give your selfie depth and colour, so stopping momentarily in front of a lake, lagoon, forest or cityscape to frame yourself in this environment produces a lovely image. This is a bit of a cheat, but the best way to capture yourself in mid-run is to hand off your camera or phone like a relay baton to someone running beside you! Does this count? Not technically, but runners do it all the time. Be advised that wefies and runs don’t always mix. Your competitive friends might prefer to go for a personal best rather than pose, so snap away at yourself throughout the run and get those usies at the start line, finish line or even hydration stops—at which point you can send it to your mum so she knows you’re looking after yourself!
Be inventive and creative when you shoot your wefies and selfies by adding humour to your shots. Crawl behind bushes and have everyone pop their heads out as if they had grown there. Grab a group shot wearing hair mustaches. Pose besties fighting over one medal or ask everyone to pull marathon t-shirts over their noses so all that’s revealed are pairs of eyes. Have friends lie in a circle, heads together, and hand over your phone or camera to capture your “true” circle of friends. You can also bring a funny sign to the event that reads: “You can run but you can’t hide” and then cluster everyone behind the sign so no faces appear in the shot. Your imagination is key to collecting a library of memorable running selfies and wefies, so let those ideas flow like an open water faucet!
Now that you’re something of a selfie expert, we’re eager to learn about your selfie etiquette. What selfie or wefie have you captured and then transmitted to friends or circulated via a social media channel that garnered the most amount of attention, shock or feedback?