The Selfie Phenomenon and Modeling Portfolios

But first . . . . Let me take a selfie . . . selfie . . . Let me take a selfie.

With the explosive popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, posting pictures has become part of our everyday lives. One of the most trendy types of pictures is the selfie. Selfies are so popular that earlier this year, the word “selfie” was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. This particular word has also become the center of a music video by The Chainsmokers aptly called #SELFIE and it features a number of actual selfies from celebrities such as Snoop Dogg and David Hasselhoff. Since its release in January this year, the video has garnered 132 million views and climbing.

What is a selfie, you may ask? Very simply, a selfie is a self-taken image. Selfies are most commonly taken with a camera on a cell phone, but virtually any camera can by used to take one. Often times selfies can be identified by an out-stretched arm appearing in the image. This is because to take a selfie, you have to hold your cell phone or camera out in front of you and your arm ends up being captured in the frame. Selfies have pretty much become cemented into our every day lives. You pretty much can’t be on a social network for more than 30 seconds without seeing one. It has almost become second nature for us to snap a picture of ourselves whether it’s planned out or it’s a spur of the moment one like Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie which is the most retweeted picture ever with over 3 million retweets.

So why do we take selfies? Because they’re fun, right? More than just being a fun way of socializing, studies suggest that they may boost one’s self-esteem. A selfie is a frozen point in time where everything in the picture is all about you. There’s no pressure to take one and you can get an instant confidence boost especially when you get likes and comments on an image via your favorite social network. From an outside perspective, selfies can seem narcissistic and perhaps excessively taking selfies can be. However, in this age, a self-taken image is part of how we socialize.

Selfies also provide a way for us to sneak a peak into the lives of others. Many people are often curious and interested to see what goes on with the private lives of actors, models and others in the public eye. These celebrities know that their image is a way for them to stay connected with their fans. Models are notorious selfie takers . . . and why not? . . . models live glamorous life-styles, go to the best parties, and take great pictures.

However, a problem arises when aspiring models confuse selfies with professional portfolio images. Selfies are generally taken by a camera phone, which is low in resolution and low in megapixels. Most camera phones produce pixelated, poor quality images that really don’t cut it for a professional modeling portfolio. Beyond the quality of the image, seeing an out-stretched arm in an image appears unprofessional. You may notice that selfies are not a part of supermodels’ portfolios. That’s because selfies are primarily meant for friends, family, and fans to see. Your portfolio is for prospective clients and other industry professionals to see.

Grow your portfolio with a variety of pictures with different looks and poses. If you want to be taken seriously in the modeling industry, especially when you are starting out, hire a professional photographer or work with someone you know that is able to take some good shots of you with a decent camera. Your portfolio should showcase your very best work and will usually be judged by the weakest image. You don’t want a prospective client or agent to decline you, because you have a low quality, pixelated selfie.

There are many reasons why selfies have become a cultural phenomenon. Selfies are an honest form of photography that is personal, candid, and which we love sharing with our friends and family. As a model, there are ways to work selfies into your personal lives, but make sure to separate the images that are seen by your personal and professional networks. Doing this will speak volumes about you as a professional.

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