The rise of the 0.5 selfie

Julia Herzig, 22, of Larchmont, New York, has “mania.” It’s by taking a new kind of selfie – one that doesn’t quite match.

In some of these selfies, Herzig’s forehead bulges across half of the frame. Her eyes are half discs, looking down at something behind the camera. Her nose stands out. Her mouth is not visible. She said these photos are best when she has “ominous creepy feelings”.

Herzig started taking these photos – called 0.5 selfies (pronounced “fifth point” selfies, not “half” selfies) when she upgraded to the iPhone 12 Pro last year and discovered that its rear camera has an ultra-wide-angle lens that can make it She and her friends look “disfigured and crazy”.

But what seemed like a joke was bigger than Herzig, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, thought. A few months ago, after spring break, I opened up an Instagram feed filled with 0.5 selfies. “All of a sudden, one day, everyone was taking 0.5 selfies,” she said.

Wherever Gen Z gathers these days, 0.5 selfies are almost certain to be snapped, capturing the moment with random compliments — or a comedic lack. 0.5 selfies are popping up on Instagram, sprouting up in group chats, becoming the talk of the game and often being taken to record the details of everyday life.

Unlike the traditional selfie, which people can set up and take pictures of endlessly, the 0.5 selfie — so named because users tap 0.5x on a smartphone’s camera to switch to ultra-wide mode — has become popular because it’s far from organized. Because the ultra-wide lens is built into the phones’ rear cameras, people can’t watch themselves taking 0.5 selfies, resulting in random images that convey the whim of distortion.

Callie Booth, 19, of Rustburg, Virginia, who added that a good selfie 0.5 was the “antithesis” of a good facade.

In her top .5 selfies, Booth said, she and her friends were blurry and straightforward.

“It’s not the perfect traditional photo,” she said. “It makes it even funnier looking back.”

The problem is that taking 0.5 selfies is difficult. Due to the rear camera, shooting with angling and physical maneuvering is a must. If selfie-takers want to put everyone in a frame, they should extend their arms as far as possible. If they want to maximize the amount of facial distortion, they should place their phone perpendicular to their forehead and at their hairline.

On top of those acrobatics, since the phone is upside down, 0.5 selfie lovers have to press the volume button to take the photo, being careful not to confuse it with the power button. Sometimes 0.5 selfies with large groups requires the use of a self-timer as well. Nothing is visible until the selfie is taken, which is half the fun.

“I just take it and don’t look at it until later, so it’s more about capturing the moment versus seeing what it all looks like,” said Sol Park, 21, of Starkville, Mississippi.

Wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses are nothing new. First patented in 1862, lenses are often used to capture more of a scene with their wider field of view, particularly in architectural, landscape, and street photography.

“It’s because photography was a thing,” said Grant Welling, a photographer who reviews cameras for major electronics store B&H Photo Video.

Selfies, made famous by celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Kim Kardashian, and Paris Hilton, are a much more recent innovation (although this is sometimes disputed). In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries added “selfie” to its online dictionary and called it the word of the year.

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

Due to the wide angle, subjects closer to the lens appear larger, while objects further away appear smaller. This shift blurs subjects in a way that is welcome, for example, in architectural photography but is traditionally discouraged in portraiture.

“The wide angle for selfies has always been different because it makes them more distorted,” said Alessandro Uribe-Reinbolt, 23, a Colombian photographer based in Detroit.

Uribe-Rheinbolt said he’s recently brought the wide angle of his personal business — customers have requested the look of a 0.5 selfie — into his personal life, using it to pick up his friends, his clothes and his daily routine.

“It gives it a more casual look,” he said. “There’s a lot of creativity in the way you put it in the corner and the way you bring it closer.”

An unedited 0.5 selfie is more organically fun than a frontal selfie. Posting selfies on Instagram, with drowsy limbs or buggy eyes, is supposed to be ridiculous, making it seem like photographers are taking themselves — and social media — less seriously.

“There’s something that breaks the fourth wall because you’re acknowledging that you’re taking a picture for the sake of taking a picture,” said Hannah Caplon, 21, of Sacramento, California. “He’s trying to make Instagram unofficial again.”

Caplon, who recently graduated from Duke University, said she now takes .5 selfies on most occasions: late-night studying at the library, dinner with 11 guests, and a basketball-watching party.

“Very soon, wherever my friends and I were, I was like, ‘We have to take a 0.5 selfie,'” she said. “This trend has taken on a life of its own.”

This article originally appeared in the New York Times.

Leave a Comment