Behind the photo frenzy and selfie phenomenon, you’ll find a smart and simple piece of equipment worth adding to your kit. Behold, the almighty selfie stick!
Whether you point the camera at yourself or at your subject, here are a few tips to get the most out of your selfie stick:
What’s great about selfie mode is that you give your story a point of view. However, achieving an acceptable selfie is not as easy as it looks. There’s an art to getting the shot. Discovering a flattering angle, selecting a suitable background and finding your light is only the beginning!
The trick to shooting a classic selfie is to position the camera at eye-level, just like you would position the camera on a tripod for an interview. While holding the camera low might feel heroic, it also might accentuate double chins. Now, change it up, and hold the stick off to your side and get a profile shot. If you’re snowboarding, skateboarding or wakeboarding, try holding the selfie stick behind you to get a cool chase shot. Experiment with different camera positions to get a variety of angles. Shoot some while standing still and some in motion.
Are you ready for your close-up? Unfortunately, photographing yourself at arm’s length makes for a lousy portrait. Putting a bit more distance between the lens and your face will ultimately make for more appealing framing. It gives a bit more breathing room around your face and the opportunity to see the background. If you wouldn’t let a stranger that close, the camera doesn't belong that close either. Give yourself some extra space with a telescoping selfie stick that expands and contracts as needed — ready to accommodate any size group shot or highlight incredible scenery in the background.
While selfie sticks are a great tool for people who want to film themselves while flying solo, they also offer a world of possibilities for handheld shooting.
Turn the Camera Around
After you shoot your selfie, turn the camera around and show us the world from your point of view. A POV shot can be a nice cutaway while filming yourself. It offers a unique perspective when you’re doing something active, like walking or driving. It really makes your viewers feel like they are there with you.
A POV shot can be a nice cutaway while filming yourself.
While there are a handful of mounts that can attach action cams to your head or chest, the selfie stick offers the most versatility when you’re hoping to get a lot of different shots without a lot of setup time.
Now comes the fun part. With a little creativity, you can unlock a whole world of possibilities. Flip the stick upside down to get a cool low angle. Let the camera almost touch the ground and see the soles of your shoes hitting the pavement, watch your snowboard carving through snow or capture your bike tire rolling down the street. Shoot head-on, to the side, and from behind for a couple of different options.
Try using your selfie stick to elevate your shot. Peer over the crowd at a concert or peek over a chef’s shoulder while she’s making paella. The selfie stick’s extra height offers a great vantage point.
Keep it Steady
The selfie stick can also be an additional point of contact for stabilization, making shots more steady than when shooting handheld. Some selfie sticks even offer the ability to act like a monopod; they’re long enough to rest the base on the ground for balance and support. For those who are ready for action, experiment with a handheld motorized gimbal — the ultimate selfie stick!
Hand it Off
If you’re not the subject of your story, don’t be afraid to hand the selfie stick to the talent. Coach them on how to film themselves to add some interesting elements to the mix.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Don’t cause a scene. A handful of places are banning selfie sticks, as these outstretched poles have been a threat to artwork, walls and other people. Don’t give them reason to continue the trend. Always be mindful of where your stick your selfie stick.
Choose the Right Stick for the Job
Selfie sticks come in a wide range of qualities and price ranges, from mere toys to professional tools. Generally, you get what you pay for. When choosing the right selfie stick, note that some mounts are specific to one type of camera, while others are universal with options to switch between your smartphone, action cam, and point and shoot. Consider the movement options your mount offers as well. Hinged mounts will help you tilt the camera, but a ball head will give you the most flexibility. Pick a stick that’s sturdy enough for your adventures; I’ve seen a handful of these break in half. Consider both the collapsed and extended lengths when choosing what size works best for you.
Now, it’s time to take these selfie stick strategies and add some style and personality to your videos. The power is in your hands.
Juliana Broste, “TravelingJules,” is an Emmy award winning Travel Video Journalist — an experienced producer, shooter, writer, editor and host.