| Antonia Lange |
STUTTGART (dpa) – The big disadvantage of taking a selfie is the outstretched arm visible in the image. No matter how you set up the shot, it’s possible the arm used to take the photo will get into the frame. The new selfie sticks neatly get around that problem.
The principle behind a selfie stick is simple: mount a smartphone or digital camera at the end of a telescopic rod and position it so the grip is invisible. The photo is taken either remotely, using Bluetooth technology, or by pressing a button on the rod.
“Selfie sticks were first used by extreme sports enthusiasts,” says media expert Christian Stiegler from Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe, Germany. The sticks first spread to non-sports users in Southeast Asia.
Selfie sticks can now be seen outside tourist attractions the world over.
Retailers and manufacturers spotted the trend and jumped on the bandwagon. But that does not mean a selfie stick comes cheap: a model made by Rollei of Germany that came out on the market at the end of last year costs 55 dollars.
Demand in Britain has become so big that entrepreneurs set up a company with the sole aim of manufacturing them.
“We were in the Philippines attending a friend’s wedding when we got the idea,” says co-founder Neil Harvey. “We saw lots of people using them. When we returned to England we realised that no one here knew what a selfie stick is.”
Harvey founded the business Selfie Pods together with his business partner Steve Pendilley. Along with a basic model, his company also offers a model with a built-in battery charger and a model for sports enthusiasts.
“Demand was much higher than we expected,” says Harvey. Shortly before Christmas almost all of the selfie sticks in stock were sold out. “Sales in December were about 10 times higher than in November.”
There are several advantages to using a selfie stick. You will never again need to ask a stranger to take your photo and worry they might disappear with your camera. And in contrast to the usual selfies, you are not going to end up with an oversized head blocking the view of a building or beautiful landscape.
But useful as they are, not everyone wants to own a selfie stick.
“The selfie stick is the new mobile phone pouch,” sneered one critic on Twitter.
“When you’re not doing selfies, what do you do with it? Carry it around and pretend it’s a walking stick?” asked another.
You won’t see your outstretched arm in a selfie stick photo but you might end up with a view of the rod.
“Selfie sticks all resemble each other in terms of their construction. They are a mass produced product and they tend to all create the same image in terms of perspective and distance,” says Stiegler.
“In a sense they undermine the spontaneous nature of digital photography.”