At least once in our lives, we have all ran into the classic tourist’s problem: you want a photograph of yourself on some beautiful spot, but the place is crowded, there is nowhere to rest the camera, you feel kind of awkward about asking somebody else to take your picture and, if you finally decide to ask somebody, somehow the picture always is not what you have expected (I always look for people with professional cameras, hoping they know best). This struggle brings us to the “selfie movement”.
Selfies aren’t exactly exclusive to the twenty-first century, given that anyone who had a camera and a mirror in the past could easily take self-portraits, with some of these even dating back to the 1800s .
However, the selfies that some take on a daily basis became popular during the past decade, starting with the advent of the MySpace profile picture. In 2010, Facebook launched Instagram, offering a platform exclusively for photos and videos. The trend gained more followers when Apple’s iPhone 4 introduced the front-facing camera in 2010. That made taking pictures of yourself much easier – meaning you didn’t have to hand off one of your most valuable possessions to a stranger in order to get it done. But there was still an obstacle to overcome: human arms aren’t long enough to get a great shot all the time (especially with a gaggle of friends).
And then you started to see all these people posing for a phone camera attached to the end of a telescoping pole. The selfie stick evolution had started.
The selfie stick was first used by extreme sports aficionados, but its use has recently exploded. Starting with Eastern and Southeastern Asia, the selfie sticks went global because of their inexpensive components and an inexhaustible appetite for self-portraits from a slightly better vantage point that the length of the human arm allows.
Today, there are nearly 130,000 photos on Instagram with the #selfiestick hashtag.
WHAT ARE SELFIE STICKS, EXACTLY?
They’re inexpensive versions of what was once called a monopod, which experienced photographers use to steady their cameras. The main difference with selfie sticks is that they’re specifically designed to be held at arm’s length to fit the photographer into the frame, and they usually come with a mechanism to remotely trigger the shutter. And they are made for smartphones.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
There are three basic kinds of selfie sticks:
Bluetooth-enabled, which pairs with your smartphone and lets you press a button on the handle to take a photo.
The sticks that plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack, which also let you take a photo with the press of a button on a handle.
Sticks that come without any remote triggering function. Some of these are sold as a package with a keychain-sized Bluetooth remote control.
Triggerless selfie sticks require the use of the camera app’s timer – which is so 2013 – or a separate trigger, which is easy to lose and cumbersome to operate while holding the stick itself.
The Bluetooth–enabled sticks are an option, especially if you want to take a picture from far away, without even holding the stick itself. But keep in mind that the pairing of your phone with the Bluetooth device can be finicky – it’s a frequent complaint of online reviewers – and you have to remember to keep the stick’s battery charged with a USB cable.
With a selfie stick that uses a headphone cable, you don’t have to worry about pairing or charging; the button operates off the trickle of electricity from the headphone jack. This kind of selfie stick brings you the solution that works best, and you can finally take a perfect selfie!