The rise of the 0.5 selfie

Julia Herzig, a 22-year-old from Larchmont, NY, has “an obsession.” It’s taking a new kind of selfie – one that doesn’t exactly match.

Mrs. Herzig’s forehead bulges out over half the frame in some of these selfies. Her eyes are half-slices, looking up at something outside the camera. Her nose sticks out. Her mouth is invisible. These images are best when they have “ominous, creepy vibes,” she said.

Ms. Herzig started taking these shots — called 0.5 selfies (pronounced “dot five” selfies, not “half” selfies) — when she upgraded to an iPhone 12 Pro last year and found that the rear camera had an ultra-wide angle lens had a lens that could make her and her friends look “distorted and crazy.”

But what seemed like a joke was bigger than Ms. Herzig, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, A few months ago, after spring break, she opened Instagram to a feed full of 0.5 selfies.

“One day, everyone suddenly took 0.5 selfies,” she said.

Wherever Gen Z congregates these days, a 0.5 selfie is almost always taken, capturing the moment with random flattery — or comic lack thereof. The 0.5 selfies appear on Instagram, spread in group chats, become the talk of parties, and are often captured to capture the details of everyday life.

Unlike a traditional selfie, for which people can endlessly prepare and pose, the 0.5 selfie – so named because users tap a smartphone’s camera 0.5x to switch to the ultra-wide mode – has become popular because it is far composed of. Since the ultra-wide angle lens is built into the rear cameras of phones, people can’t see themselves while taking a 0.5 selfie, creating random images that convey the notion of distortion.

“You don’t know how it’s going to end, so you just have to trust the process and hope something good comes out of it,” said Callie Booth, 19, of Rustburg, Virginia, adding that a good 0.5 selfie was the “antithesis” of good forward-facing.

In their best 0.5 selfies, Ms. Booth said, she and her friends are blurry and straight to the face. “It’s not the traditional picture-perfect picture,” she said. “It makes it more fun to look back on.”

0.5 selfie

The problem is that taking a selfie of 0.5 is difficult. Because of the rear camera, fishing and physical maneuvering are necessary. If selfie-takers want to fit everyone into a frame, they must stretch their arms out and up as far as possible. To maximize how much a face distorts, they must place their phone perpendicular to their forehead and right at their hairline.

On top of that acrobatics, because the phone is flipped, 0.5 selfie enthusiasts have to press the volume rocker to take the shot, making sure not to confuse it with the power button. Sometimes 0.5 selfies with large groups also require the use of a self-timer. Nothing is visible until the selfie is taken, which is half the fun.

“I just take it, and I don’t look at it until later, so it’s more about capturing the moment rather than seeing what everything looks like,” says Soul Park, 21, of Starkville, Miss.

Wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses are not new. The lenses, first patented in 1862, are often used to capture more of a scene with their wider field of view, particularly in architectural, landscape, and street photography.

“It goes so far back that photography has been a thing,” said Grant Willing, a photographer who reviews cameras for electronics superstore B&H Photo Video.

Selfies, popularized by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton, are a more modern innovation (though even this is sometimes up for debate). In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries added “selfie” to its online dictionary and named it the word of the year.

The 0.5 selfies were born through the convergence of the wide-angle lens with the selfie, made possible when ultra-wide-angle lenses were added to Apple’s iPhone 11 and Samsung’s Galaxy S10 in 2019 and to newer models.

The wide angle makes subjects closer to a lens appear larger, while those further away appear smaller. This shift distorts issues in a way that is welcome in architectural photography but traditionally not recommended for portraits.

“Wide angle for portrait shots was always very different because it just got more distorted,” said Alessandro Uribe-Rheinbolt, 23, a Colombian photographer from Detroit.

Mr. Uribe-Rheinbolt said he recently brought the wide angle of his portrait work — where clients have asked for the look of a 0.5 selfie — to his personal life, using it to show his friends, his outfits, and his daily routine. To capture.

“It gives it a more casual look,” he said. “There’s a lot more creativity with how you angle it and place it closer.”

An unedited 0.5 selfie is organically more playful than a front-facing selfie. Posting selfies on Instagram, where limbs are noodles or eyes buggy, is meant to be stupid, making it seem like the photographers are taking themselves — and social media — less seriously.

“There’s something that breaks the fourth wall because you recognize that you’re taking a picture for the sake of taking a picture,” says Hannah Kaplon, 22, of Sacramento. “It’s trying to make Instagram casual again.”

Ms. Kaplon, a recent Duke University graduate, said she now takes a 0.5 selfie for most occasions: a late night studying in the library, dinner with 11 guests, or watching a basketball game.

“Pretty quickly, wherever my friends and I were, I thought, ‘We need to take a 0.5 selfie,'” she said. “The trend has taken on a life of its own.”

Denis J. Graham
I have always been an avid reader, but after graduating college and getting into the job market, I decided to start writing because it was a good tool to help me express myself. As someone passionate about traveling, I hope to inspire others to get out there and see the world. I write about travel, books, fashion, beauty, and more.