Who Invented the Selfie Stick?
Did you know that primitive selfie sticks date back to the 1920s? There is a 1925 photograph of a man and his wife, taken with a long pole that has a box camera at the end.
However, the selfie stick wasn't properly invented until 1983, when a patent was taken out for a "telescopic extender" intended for use with compact handheld cameras. In 1995, a book of Japanese inventions showcased the selfie stick.
In 2005, the Quik Pod was manufactured by Wayne Fromm, a Canadian inventor. In 2006, it become commercially available in the United States.
In 2012, a patent was filed by Yeong-Ming Wang for a "multi-axis omni-directional shooting extender". This device was designed to hold a smartphone.
The term "selfie stick" only became widespread in 2014. In that same year, it was listed as one of the Top 25 Inventions of the year. In 2015, it was given the nickname "Wand of Narcissus" or "Narcisstick".
How Does a Selfie Stick Work?
There are selfie sticks designed to be used with laptops and cameras, but the majority of selfie sticks work either with digital cameras or smartphones.
Camera Selfie Sticks come with a screw-like structure at the tip of the pole. Most cameras have a digital tripod mount, and the selfie stick simply screws into that mount for easy attachment.
Note: In many cases, smartphone selfie sticks can also work with digital cameras. Simply remove the smartphone holding attachment from the end of the stick by unscrewing it, and that screw can be attached to the camera's tripod mount.
Some cameras can be inserted into the smartphone holder, though this is NOT recommended. Many brands of cameras (such as GoPro) have created attachments that make it easy to use their digital cameras with any selfie stick.
Smartphone Selfie Sticks come with a phone mount designed to securely hold your smartphone in place. The phone mount usually has extendable arms that are adjustable according to the dimensions of the smartphone being used.
Note: Not all phone mounts can accommodate phones of all sizes, so you'll need to read the specifications carefully before buying a selfie stick for your smartphone.
Some phone mounts use a single spring-loading design (gripping the phone at top and bottom, or both sides), while others feature a double spring-loading design (gripping all four sides of the phone at once). The former is easier to use, but the latter is significantly safer for your smartphone.
Once your camera or smartphone is securely mounted, you will pair it with the Bluetooth or connect it directly to the selfie stick via wire. Some smartphones may require a special app to use. Cameras must be connected via the remote trigger/button. Once you've connected the device to your selfie stick, you're ready to take pictures!
How to Mount Your Devices
Selfie sticks are designed to make mounting your devices fairly easy:
For cameras – Look for the tripod mount on the bottom of your camera (a large screw hole). Simply place the camera atop the screw tip of the selfie stick and screw clockwise. Tighten fully to ensure the camera is securely in place.
For smartphones – Mounting a smartphone is also fairly easy. The way you mount it depends on whether it's a single or double spring-loading design.
- Single – Using your fingers, push the top spring away from the base until you can slide your phone into the slot. Release gently so the spring locks your smartphone firmly in place.
- Double – You'll need to push both vertical and horizontal sets of springs apart and insert your phone into the slot. Release and let the springs lock the phone securely.
Some smartphone holders use a special soft silicone or sponge pad to lock the phone in place. These are not the spring-loaded type, but they require more effort to adjust (making sure the phone is securely gripped). When you've adjusted the position, press down on the pad to lock it.
How Selfie Sticks Take Pictures
There are three types of selfie sticks you need to know about:
- Simple selfie stick – This is nothing more than a telescoping wand/stick with a phone or camera mount at the end. The stick won't do anything but hold your device out. To take a picture, you need to set your smartphone or camera to take pictures on a timer. A 5 to 10-second timer will usually be enough to get the stick out to the right position to take the picture.
- Built-In Button selfie stick – This is a selfie stick that doesn't pair with your phone via Bluetooth; instead, it connects with a wire into the headphone jack of your smartphone. The wire connects the phone to the button in the handle of the selfie stick. When you want to take a picture, all you have to do is press the button (no timer needed) and the signal will be sent via the wire into your phone. These are highly reliable and a great option for older phones or phones without reliable Bluetooth pairing.
- Bluetooth selfie stick – This is the most common of the selfie sticks. The sticks come with their own button built into the grip, and a Bluetooth connection that you need to pair with your smartphone or camera (yes, modern cameras are Bluetooth-enabled). Pairing the selfie stick with your smartphone is as simple as activating the Bluetooth feature in your settings, then clicking on the name of the Selfie Stick. Once it's paired, you can take pictures easily using the button in the selfie stick handle.
Bonus: Selfie Stick with Bluetooth Remote – In some cases, selfie sticks don't come with a built-in button. Instead, they have a remote control that gives you more control over the camera settings. Pairing the remote is as simple as pairing a selfie stick—switch on Bluetooth controls in your smartphone's settings and search for the name of the Bluetooth device (you'll find it in your instruction manual). Once paired, taking a picture is as simple as clicking the button on the remote control.
Common Selfie Stick Problems
There are a number of frustrating problems users report when using selfie sticks:
Can't pair with Bluetooth. This is a very common problem with older smartphones, but even newer-model smartphones have Bluetooth reliability issues. In some cases, the selfie stick Bluetooth may be to blame. Other times, it simply requires turning off the devices (both phone and selfie stick) for up to 5 minutes to make pairing easier.
Drooping stick. This is common with slim wands and heavy phones or cameras. The weight of the smartphone or camera causes the selfie stick to bend and droop, preventing it from collapsing/extending smoothly. If you notice this problem, either your device is too heavy or you need a better-quality stick.
Improper extension/collapsing. After regular use, you may find that your selfie stick doesn't extend or collapse smoothly. This could be caused by two things: 1) The metal is bending because the devices used are too heavy, or 2) The joints of the telescoping stick need lubrication (WD-40).
Poor battery life. The Bluetooth connection on selfie sticks run on battery power. Not all selfie sticks have good battery life—in fact, some only offer a few minutes of run time before they need to be recharged. If your selfie stick doesn't have a reliable battery, consider:
- Switching to a better-quality stick
- Carrying extra batteries or a battery charger
- Carrying a battery bank
Phone holder too small. This is a common problem for people who own extra-sized phones (such as the iPhone 6 Plus). The phone simply won't fit in the holder, or it strains the springs when it's loaded. In some cases, the excess weight of the phone will cause the stick to bend/droop. Thankfully, Magical Selfie Stick has a list of sticks designed specifically for larger smartphones.
Phone slips out. If the phone mount isn't secure, there is a risk of your smartphone slipping/falling out. This can lead to serious damage and possibly even a lost phone. To solve this problem: 1) Find a selfie stick designed specifically for your phone (look in the specs of the selfie stick), or 2) Change up the phone mount attachment to one that you're certain will fit.
Should I Buy a Selfie Stick?
Many people look at selfie sticks as being "uncool", but there are a number of reasons you should consider owning one:
- Group and wide-angle photos are much easier to take. Thanks to the long wand, you can get a wider-angle selfie easily. You'll always be able to get that panorama shot of the spectacular landscape behind you.
- Better angles. Instead of taking pictures from directly in front of you, the selfie stick allows you to try different angles for the best possible vantage.
- More phone safety. You can take all the photos you want without trusting your phone in the hands of a stranger. This lowers the risk of your phone being stolen or your data compromised.
- More stability. Many selfie sticks are designed to be used as tripods as well. They can make it easier for you to get stable pictures.
- Lower risk of falls/drops. Taking selfies at an awkward angle can lead to a higher risk of your phone falling or being dropped. With your phone securely mounted in the selfie stick's phone holder, there's a very low risk of it being dropped.
How to Use Your Selfie Stick Like a Boss
Here are a few amazing tips to help you as you enjoy the use of your selfie stick:
Use the selfie stick for all pictures. Don’t just take selfies, but use the added length and reach of the stick to take high- and wide-angle shots that give you a better perspective of your surroundings.
Be aware of others. Remember that your selfie stick could get in the way of someone else's perfect photo. Be aware of the people taking photos around you, and do your best to stay out of their way.
Get to the edge of a crowd. With a selfie stick, there's always the temptation to shove your stick through the press of people to get a better picture. Not only does this increase the risk of your phone being broken or stolen, but you'll anger the people around you. Instead, get to the edge of the crowd and use the stick to give you a better, higher vantage point for your picture.
Take a practice picture. Make sure to take a practice shot before the real shot. You want to test the height, angle, width, and perspective to ensure you're getting the best possible photo when the time comes.
Learn the apps. All cameras and smartphones come with apps that can make your pictures more beautiful. Spend time learning the ins and outs of the apps. When paired with the better angles and vantage points of your selfie stick, you'll find they can make some amazing photos.
Don't always rely on the stick. The selfie stick isn't always the tool of choice for the moment. Sometimes, the up close and personal angle of a handheld camera or smartphone will make the picture better.
The tips above will help you to make the most of your selfie stick. With it and a high quality smartphone or digital camera, you have everything you need to capture your events and experiences in glorious color!