From the sophisticated opinion of the trendsetters to Forbes, the Selfie Stick is the recipient of scorn and ridicule.
One of the popular arguments against the Selfie Stick is that you should build the courage to ask a stranger to take a picture of you or your group.
This poses three problems.
First, the courage/imposition problem. Asking a stranger in the street assumes that you will find such a volunteer.
Further, it assumes that the volunteer will have the patience to wait for the perfect shot (“wait, I want the waves breaking” or “Try to get the sign, just on top of me”). And that the volunteer will have the patience to show you the result and take another picture.
Often, the selfista that has amassed the courage to approach a stranger on the street, out of politeness, will just accept the shot as taken. Good or bad.
Except for a few of you (I am looking at you Patrick), most people feel uncomfortable imposing something out of the blue on a stranger.
And out of shyness, will not ask a second stranger for a better shot as long as the first one is within earshot.
I know this.
Second, you might fear for the stranger to either take your precious iPhone 6+ and run, or even worse, that he might sweat all over your beautiful phone and you might need to disinfect it.
Do not pretend like you do not care about this, because I know you do.
Third, and most important, we have the legal aspect.
When you ask someone to take a picture of you, technically, they are the photographer, and they own the copyright of your picture.
This means that they own the rights to the picture and are entitled to copyright protection. The photographer, and, not you, gets to decide on the terms to distribute, redistribute, publish or share the picture with others. Including making copies of it, or most every other thing that you might want to do with those pictures.
You need to explicitly get a license from them, or purchase the rights. Otherwise, ten years from now, you may find yourself facing a copyright lawsuit.
All of a sudden, your backpacking adventure in Europe requires you to pack a stack of legal contracts.
Now your exchange goes from “Can you take a picture of us?” to “Can you take a picture of us, making sure that the church is on the top right corner, and also, I am going to need you to sign this paper”.
Using a Selfie Stick may feel awkward, but just like a condom, when properly used, it is the best protection against unwanted surprises.
You have to hand it the guys in the street outside the main tourist attractions. They always sell what the latest craze is, and do so with great aplomb and persistence. Over the years, the goods for sale change as items come in and out of fashion. I recall laser lights, dancing dolls and dogs, and of course the ubiquitous fake designer bags.
All except the bags and sunglasses have now been ditched in favour of the selfie stick: the must-have accessory for the modern day tourist experience.
This trend is quite new. When I was in Rome last summer there were few on the ground. Now they punctuate the skyline. The only time when they are ditched is when it starts raining, The selfie sticks are put away and out come the shit umbrellas and brightly coloured ponchos.
Although many museums have now banned the selfie stick, outside in the street, especially in front of that iconic monument or landmark the stick comes into its own. Getting the photo of you and your loved one(s) with the landmark in the background is de riguer. The tourism industry, which is the biggest in the world, now dictates that the first requirement of any trip is to prove you were there with the necessary photo. It connects you to the world that we know and understand, and is a vital part of any successful holiday experience. We used to have to ask a passing tourist to take the photo, but thanks to the selfie stick those days are over and we are now self sufficient.
What happens with this huge archive of self-expression and proof of visitation is anyone’s guess. Images get posted onto Facebook, or tweeted or Instagrammed and then probably forgotten. They certainly don’t make the family album; that genre has long since died.
I am writing this from Venice where every day there must be millions of self-portraits taken and an equal number of generic photos of this film set city. The only problem is waiting for the gap in the tourist traffic to ensure other people don’t block your view, or get into your photo.
Anyway, I welcome this trend as, interestingly, you can get the whole scene in front of the camera and the backdrop all in one photo. Previously I had to make to do with photos of people from behind as they looked at the view.