Every day is a new aesthetic and every picture in a photo dump carousel is a new memory on Instagram. While 2022 has officially taken the rose-tinted glasses off the social media experience, with crying selfies, BeReal, finstas, shitposting and spitballing in the forefront, a peculiar style of visual documentation is increasingly gripping gen Zers online.
Introducing the wildly distorted world of 0.5 selfies, a social media trend all about living your best candid life and trusting the process while you’re at it.
Pronounced as a “point five” selfie, the picture in question is essentially taken with the ultra-wide angle lens of one’s smartphone camera. The 0.5x mode of a camera, to be exact. Unlike a traditional selfie, for which we flaunt the flattering side of our faces and prep endlessly, a 0.5 selfie is less curated and encapsulates a spur-of-the-moment aesthetic.
The result? Noodly legs, buggy eyes, arms which stretch on for days while your forehead is plastered across the frame for the world to witness and get an authentic glimpse into your life. In a way, 0.5 selfies are the anti-trend of poised—or sometimes Photoshopped—mirror selfies that have become a mainstay on Instagram. It ultimately conveys the fact that the user takes themselves, and social media in general, more casually than conforming to the ideals we’ve all been brought up with about our ‘public image’.
I mean, who wants to look perfect online anymore? We’re all just here for the laughs in 2022 and what better way to document this desirable absence of self-awareness than with 0.5 selfies? Plus, you get to capture your entire head-to-toe fit in just one picture. No need to pose Leandra Medine-style anymore. Win-win, if you ask me.
Now, 0.5 selfies are not to be confused with ‘half’ selfies, which are basically just pictures of your face—cropped tightly to feature your best side in the frame. Though half selfies have been around for decades, 0.5 selfies were birthed in 2019 on the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10. However, the trend has only started taking off in 2022, alongside the general appeal for geometric distortions—all thanks to TikTok’s favourite “Train Guy,” Francis Bourgeois.
Equipped with a GoPro, Bourgeois is well-known for his enthusiastic trainspotting videos captured in ultra-wide angles. Every video which features clips recorded with the fisheye-like lens that’s angled down towards his face adds to Bourgeois’ awkward and gawky charm—earning him 2.6 and 1.7 million followers on TikTok and Instagram respectively.
The broad appeal for 0.5 selfies can also be traced back to the time everyone was placing Insta360 cameras in their mouth and walking around to show the point of view (POVs) of dogs and dinosaurs. What a time to be alive, indeed.
Though the trend at hand doesn’t really need an explainer, here are some tips and tricks on how to truly nail your 0.5 selfie game.
This one’s a no-brainer. The 0.5x camera mode is key to a 0.5 selfie. So start by getting your hands on an iPhone or Android smartphone with an ultra-wide camera lens to chronicle your life away with candid distortions. Once you’ve secured the bag, open the camera app and toggle the lens to the 0.5x mode. You can alternatively pinch your fingers on the screen in the same way you’d zoom out of a photo to access the ultra-wide setting.
Yes, you read that right. For decades, we’ve all been accustomed to our front cameras for snapping self-portraits and typically reserve the ones in the back to capture other people and places from our POV. But 0.5 selfies are essentially the selfie’s great renaissance.
Given how the ultra-wide angle lens is built into the back cameras of phones, you can’t actually watch yourself take a 0.5 selfie. Instead, the uncertainty is hinged on blind angling and physical manoeuvring. And that’s exactly where things get interesting. If you’re planning to take a group 0.5 selfie, you have to stretch your arms as far out and up as possible in order to fit everyone in the frame. Now, if you want to maximise how much your face distorts, you have to place your phone perpendicular to your forehead—right at your hairline.
The proportions rendered by wide-angle lenses are also worth noting in this case. For instance, subjects closer to a lens are bound to appear larger, while those farther away seem smaller. It’s good to keep these factors in mind while experimenting with the style. Don’t be afraid to use the volume buttons on your phone to snap the picture either. You should be fine as long as you don’t mistake it for the power button.
You can also play around with self-timers while taking a group 0.5 selfie. Because at the end of the day, nothing is certain until the selfie is clicked. And that’s what’s charming about the entire ordeal in the first place.
Lastly, share your whimsical creations for the rest of the world to witness. On TikTok, 0.5 selfies have made a name for themselves with the ‘use this sound if your cute’ audio by @qlzt. “What’s 1 divided by 2?” the TikToks read, before they snap into a montage of 0.5 selfies clicked in every single style imaginable.
So what are you waiting for? March ahead and redefine the style of self-portrait Paris Hilton once proudly claimed to invent. Maybe mash it up with meta selfies to launch a parallel trend for others to jump on in the future too. In the end, just remember that the more ominous your creations are, the better.