Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Picture This

I'm an amateur photographer. A very amateur photographer, but I bought my expensive toy (aka a Nikon D80) to take my pictures. I'm certainly not an expert, nor do I claim to be one, but I enjoy taking pictures and you can see many of them at with my best ones being in the Art Gallery section. In turn, I enjoy looking at the pictures people take. I can learn from it and realize how much more I need to learn.

But there is one type of picture that I've always found amusing: the self-portrait. This is where a person points the camera at themselves to take the picture, or they stand in front of a mirror. I love both types since I just find it interesting that this is something people do. It's understood not everyone's camera has a self-timer, or there are those spontaneous moments, but more often-than-not, I see this type of picture being taken when there's lots of time to take a normal one instead.

I love the mirror-based ones in particular. You have to somehow point the camera at yourself, make sure you're in frame, and take the picture. It's not that easy. I usually notice one (or more) of the following things happen:
  • The person is in this seductive or sexy pose...but they have the camera up to their face and one hand holding the camera. Can you imagine walking into a McDonald's and as you ordered food, the cashier was in this ultra-seductive pose trying to push the keys on the cash register? That's how a person looks when trying to take a picture of themself.
  • The flash! The flash! You're in front of a mirror. Mirrors reflect light. The flash on your camera is a lot of light...all at once. Guess what happens when you take a picture in front of a mirror using the flash?
  • Lack of coordination or concentration. The person is looking down at the camera while the picture is being taken. The person is so focused on the aiming and how they look in the little tv screen, they kind of forget to look up.
  • Similarly, or even worse is looking through the camera viewfinder. Unless you're trying to do a bodyshot, all you get is a camera attached to a neck and body. It's kind of cool in a Star Trek-Borg sort of way, but otherwise, it doesn't do anyone any good.

Some people forego the whole mirror thing since it's a rather complicated task (plus there has to be a mirror at the time you need to take the picture) and just turn and point the camera at themselves. That can work, but some advice:

  • Keep the camera level and your head level (unless you're trying to get a specific background). Otherwise you get a lovely shot looking up your nose or at your down at your double-chin.
  • Try not to include anything below the shoulder. I love those shots where all you see is an arm (or arms) in the frame attached to a head at the end of it. Try to make it look like someone else took the shot.
  • Therefore, try to use only one hand if you can to take the picture. With two arms, people look like they're zombies or doing a Frankenstein imitation.

I also love the "cram". This is where someone has cellphone and 20 of their closest friends and they all want to appear in a cellphone pic. You know how you can't get 10 people to fit in a car? You can't get 20 people to fit in a cellphone pic. I see people slamming heads together -- their faces and heads welding together...steam coming out of their hair as they push harder and harder against each other. Friggin' DNA is being exchanged people are so close together. It ain't gonna work folks! Take two steps back and take the picture with two people at a time, folks.

If you have examples of these sorts of pictures, send them and I'll post them in an upcoming blog. Or post the URL in a comment. They are amusing -- don't you agree?

1 comment:

Canadian Girl said...

oh geez. go to there are tonnnnnnnnnns of pictures by users from all over the world.

The bad thing is that not only are girls taking cell phone shots.. they have gotten brave in the up and coming generations and also do it in their underwear.