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Good, bad, ANG members influence community opinion with #selfies

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Penny Snoozy
  • 173rd Fighter Wing
Air National Guard members should use discretion when taking and sharing self-portraits.

With the rise of technology and social media, sharing photos with family and friends is easier than ever. But when using social media like Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat the self-portrait, or "selfie" reigns supreme.

If you have a smart phone, you are taking selfies, #broadgeneralization.

Selfie - The mention of this word makes me smile and laugh. Memories of dropping my phone on my face while taking a selfie lying down, or seeing someone share a selfie with their eyes closed captioned #Sleepy #ComeBringMeCoffee #Brunette #Vegan, fill this already silly word with humor. It seems every occasion needs to be commemorated with a selfie these days. Whether it's a special occasion like meeting your #NewbornNiece #Blessed, or other life events like #BuyingANewCar #ICanOnlyEatRamenNoodlesForAYear, or eating #TheBestDinnerEver #ILovePizza.

I'm not that person that shamelessly strikes a selfie pose in public, but I will admit to partaking in my fair share of selfies. There seems to be a slightly negative association with selfies. I mean, they are somewhat vain #understatementpersonified, but generally they are harmless.

However, if you're not careful, taking self-portraits can become an embarrassing endeavor. We've all seen those embarrassing selfies. The selfies with backdrops of unflushed toilets, dirty laundry littered around the bedroom floor, or hashtags so long you have to "see more."

But if you're taking selfies at work, you can capture more than an embarrassing moment. With selfies becoming part of daily life for some of us, one may not give a second thought about Personally Identifiable Information, sensitive documents, or classified equipment that could be splashed in their background. As a Public Affairs Photojournalist, I can give you some tips to look sharp in your selfies without damaging your self-esteem or professional credibility.

As members of the ANG, you might take a selfie in uniform. When sharing a selfie in uniform, members have a chance to positively or negatively impact the community's opinion depending on your dress and appearance, professionalism, and the setting of the photograph. Since all military members reflect on the military as a whole, we should hold ourselves to the highest standard in everything--even selfies.

I can't remember how many times a crew chief has asked me not to take their photo because at some point a photographer took a photo of them without proper personal protective equipment and they were blasted by their supervisor. So, my first tip for selfies is: wear proper PPE when needed, especially if you are going to document that moment in a photo! But why do I need to say this, I'm sure you all wear PPE every time you're supposed to anyways, right?

Nothing says "I'm professional" like a selfie in uniform with out-of-regs fly-away hair, a 6 or 7 o'clock shadow, an upturned collar, or a photo where you are #TooCoolToWearMyCoverOutside #ILookCuterWithOutIt #SoI'mGoingToDisobeyRegulations. Wear a hat when outdoors and follow other customs and courtesies. Make sure your uniform and appearance are, at a minimum, satisfactory before posting a selfie. Or maybe the Public Affairs office can look for selfies with uniform infractions and start using them as learning tools at a commander's call... Too bad Facebook isn't public domain. #I'mKiddingItTotallyIsLOL.

As I said before, be aware of the background of your selfie. Whether in uniform or at home, don't let anything distract your viewers from the #IWokeUpLikeThis attractiveness of your selfie.

Now that I've touched on some of the professional aspects of selfies #HowIronic, I can get into the important information; how to look good. Even though everyone is flawless the way they are, #littlewhitelie, we all have certain attributes that we would rather not highlight.

Do you get dark circles under your eyes? Don't stand directly beneath your lighting source; this will put shadows under your eyes. Open windows with indirect sunlight provide flattering, natural, even lighting. If you're outside, the sun can cast some nasty shadows. Standing somewhere in the shade will give you much better lighting.

Do you have a prominent forehead?  If you'd like to shorten the appearance of your forehead, raise your chin and take your photo from a lower angle.

Moving down the face, if you are self-conscious of your chin there are a few things you can do. If you have a narrow chin, tilt your chin upwards and take your selfie straight on or from above. If you have a double-chin, raise your chin and take photo from a higher angle.

Here is a professional tip: As you raise the angle of your selfie be sure to maintain control of your camera or phone so you don't drop it on your face... or into a sink, toilet, lake, or hard surface where it can be damaged. When you ruin your camera or phone, no one will be able to see the new selfies you share every day so everyone can know that you look exactly the same. #ProTip #DontSelfieEveryDay #PleaseIBegYou #It'sNotFairToHumanity. On a side note, it can be annoying and distracting when you hashtag your photos to death.

My last tip of the day goes out to those who aren't #FeelingTwentyTwo. If you don't understand that reference, then this tip is probably for you. Balding isn't usually a feature someone wants to emphasize. So if you take your selfie from a lower angle and avoid back lighting, which creates a "halo" effect  highlighting your lack of hair, baldness is less obvious. The wrinkles etched into our skin from all those years of laughing and smiling can sometimes make people sad. Don't be sad! To reduce the appearance of wrinkles, have a lower light source that's indirect and soft. Light that comes from beneath will softly fill in wrinkles if it's diffused light, making wrinkles much less pronounced.

By applying a few of these selfie tips, I'm sure together we can make our social media a better place. A place of pride instead of embarrassment, and a place that is a little easier on the eyes. #You'reWelcome.