Selfie Composition and Framing
A selfie might not have the significance of Ansel Adam’s iconic “Moon over Hernandez,” but that doesn’t mean composition and framing is any less important.
There are more “rules” of composition to follow than there are ways to break them, but each is valid in its own way, and some are more worthwhile to remember than others. The most repeated is the “rule of thirds.”
Simply put, the rule of thirds states that if you are to divide up an image into three sections, both horizontally and vertically, the subject matter of the image should fall on one of the four intersections where the lines meet. For example, in the photo above, if you were to photograph a person in it, you should position him or her at one of the intersections. Most phones and apps nowadays offer gridded overlays, almost all of which are based on the rules of thirds, making the process even easier if you have a difficult time picturing the composition otherwise.
Another key element of composition is recognizing where you are in the frame. A good rule of thumb is to avoid cropping the image off at various joints, including but not limited to elbows, hips, knees, and shoulders. This illustration from Digital Camera World is a good guide to follow.
Likewise, be conscious of the background when composing a selfie. Don’t let any tree branches or street lamps get in the way. Having a pole sticking out of your head can make it look like you’re impaled. That’s not the look you’re going for, unless you’re taking a glamour shot for your audition for The Walking Dead.