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Articles
Echo and Narcissus after the painting by J W Waterhouse

I SELFIE, THEREFORE I AM

By Mark Eveleigh (@Mark_Eveleigh)     25 Nov 2016

Photographer Mark Eveleigh has eight tips for your next self-portrait from the travel professionals who shoot them like it’s their job—because, actually, it is

It’s been said that there’s a time and a place for everything. But apparently it’s always selfie time!

Millions of selfies are shot every day in fascinating places, yet in the vast majority of cases the essence of the place is never caught.

A young monk scores a 'selfie' at most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar.
A young monk scores a ‘selfie’ at most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar

For many travel bloggers, snapping an original selfie is just part of another day at the office. Here are some tips that could offer valuable inspiration the next time you too feel the urge to flick that front-facing-camera icon.

TAKE A RISK

Sarah Richard, who blogs at Girls That Scuba, shows total dedication to the business of selfie-shooting during a shark feeding frenzy at Truk Lagoon, Micronesia. Based in Hong Kong, Richard has dived all over the world and shoots dramatic selfies to promote her blog.

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‘When it comes to trying to get an epic shark selfie you’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head, which of course is impossible,’ she says.

‘So make sure you put your GoPro on burst mode to capture a few dozen shots at different angles. A red filter is also a must when it comes to underwater photography and a steady hand really helps, even if you have sharks coming at you from behind.

‘Scuba diving is all about discovering a world unknown to many. Enjoy every bubble!’

PUT YOUR HEADS TOGETHER

Evi Arbay, author and founder of Indonesia Trip Advisors, is an avid ‘wefie’ shooter as this original group photo from Papua New Guinea shows.

‘I’m not a big fan of selfies with myself alone,’ Arbay admits. ‘But I often take wefie pictures with the indigenous peoples I visit.

‘Sometimes it’s an effective way to build better communication and relationships with the locals, which is crucial since I often guide photographers and tourists to remote communities.

‘Often I lend my phone and let local people do the shooting themselves—as long as my equipment is safe I feel that it builds trust and leaves them more agreeable to posing for actual portraits.

‘For me selfies are not just about having fun; they’re a vital work tool.’

PUT YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD

Jessica Peterson is filmmaker, journalist and photographer who blogs at Global Girl Travels. She concentrates on making the surroundings the primary subject in her selfies.

‘Rather than just shoot a straightforward selfie, I make use of interesting lighting and shadows to make shots more original,’ says Peterson, who spent seven years living on Guam, where she produced her first documentary.

‘I started shooting selfies of my feet when I got a fisheye lens for my Sony a7S. It works well when I need a very wide angle to show my location if I’m in an incredible landscape like Horseshoe Bend, Arizona, or Avatar Mountain in China. The wide angle transports the viewer into the location.

‘I don’t own a selfie stick on principle! It feels vain to step up to a national monument, turn my back to it and snap a million selfies.

‘I prefer to frame my shots and use a self-timer on my DSLR so I have more options with editing.’

MAKE A SPLASH

Selfie-mania in a ‘flying fish’ at Tanjung Benoa, Bali. Vaughan McShane who blogs at The Travel Manuel, shot this image while on a trans-Indonesia blogging trip. (Quite what is happening with the shorts on the other frantic passenger—Mike Corey from YouTube’s Kick the Grind—nobody knows, but it adds an air of mystery to this fun shot.)

‘Selfies are an important tool for bloggers as they have become a fantastic way to connect with readers and to share fun moments or experiences with them,’ says McShane.

‘One of the many ways that blogs are different to traditional publications is that most of the content is about the bloggers and their experience. Their audience generally read and follow them to find out their opinions on certain subjects—be it travel, fashion or food.

‘So the ability to share an image of yourself doing a fun activity can be really handy. Also, moms love selfies!’

BE HAPPY

Michael Holzrichter, Yani Darrell (soon to be Mrs Holzrichter) and little Darrell turn a typical family selfie into something more original in Bandung, Indonesia.

Holzrichter, owner of Medewi Surf Homestay in West Bali, explains: ‘We enjoy shooting selfies because it’s our way to show Yani’s family and friends in Jakarta and my family and friends in Austria how happy we are.

‘My top tip for shooting the ideal selfie would be not to think too much. Just try to catch the moment!’

TAKE TIME TO REFLECT

Maple Asaro combines a career as a professional pole dance instructor/artist with her role as director of Samadhi Retreats. She also has an almost insatiable appetite for travel and recently returned from an extended trip through India, during which she spent four days with his holiness the Dalai Lama.

‘When you’re pole dancing it’s not easy to shoot selfies,’ Asaro says, laughing. ‘But I enjoy playing around with different angles on my travels.

‘To be honest I hadn’t noticed the interesting aspect of the reflections when I shot this snap of me and my friends in Bali but I think it’s what makes this photo interesting. And I think that would be my top tip if you’re shooting selfies: always be open to a chance to shoot something unexpected.’

BE RIDICULOUS!

London-based luxury travel blogger Barbara Wagner left home at 17 to work as a model and has since lived in seven countries and visited 68. While her blog concentrates on the glamourous side of travel, Wagner sees selfies primarily as fun and enjoys playing with apps and stickers to add a touch of zaniness.

‘This shot was snapped on a press trip in Bali with fellow blogger Cynthia Lee,’ Wagner says.

‘I like to take selfies with Snapchat and then use funny filters before uploading on other apps like Instagram or Facebook.

‘Marilyn Monroe once said that ‘imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.’ Always push the limits!’

MAKE HISTORY

‘It’s my hobby, shooting selfies!’ says self-confessed selfie addict Nann Thandar Thein, tour guide and operations supervisor at Khiri Travel in Yangon.

Capture the right moment, though, and even the humble selfie can be a poignant record of a historical event. Here Thein proudly displays the inked finger that is her badge of honor from the first democratic elections in her country in more than 40 years.

‘I felt really pleased after my vote and proud to choose the party that will bring us democracy,’ she recalls.

‘I love to take selfies at every kind of moment so that I can have memories without anyone’s help. I love the things I have done, and know I will never get to do it all again in the same way but least I have the memories through my selfies!’


Photos: TKTKTKT/ Individual bloggers

 

Mark Eveleigh
Mark Eveleigh (@Mark_Eveleigh)

Mark Eveleigh is a freelance travel journalist with 20 years’ experience working on more than 600 magazine features. When he’s not chasing stories all over the world he’s based in West Bali, where he runs an online guide to the area. He recently underwent traditional tattooing as part of research into a story on the Iban people of Borneo.

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