I first encountered the 0.5x selfie at a house party last summer. An enthused guest had taken to raising their arm up above their head, and taking a flurry of birds-eye flash photographs of herself.
She flipped the phone to show off her snaps, taken using the iPhone’s wide 0.5x lens effect, with a huge grin. They were warped, unattractive and very weird – her forehead was huge, she had a long pointed nose and one expansive spidery arm. Naturally, laughter erupted.
A year later, these unconventional selfies have taken over the feeds of Instagram’s most fashionable.
For those unfamiliar with the feature, the 0.5x lens widens the photographic frame creating a fisheye lens effect. It came into being in 2019 on the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10. To take an 0.5x selfie, simply zoom out using two fingers on the camera app, reach up, point your phone towards you and press the volume button. Voila! You’ve got your own peculiar pic.
For Gen Z, the style has clear benefits. Wider shots makes capturing head-to-toe outfits solo far easier. They are also the off-beat antithesis to the poised Kylie Jenner images we have come to know, which means they’re scroll-stopping on social media, and have a sense self-awareness, as if to say: ‘Lol. You want to look perfect online? I’m just here for a laugh.’
It took the Insta-elite’s support to evolve the fad from drunken antics into the chic summer shot of 2022. Mia Regan, Romeo Beckham’s TikTok trend-generating girlfriend, deserves a portion of credit for it reaching the masses. Her 600k Instagram followers are treated to ironic pouts, layered designer clothing, toilet settings and vivid coloured backgrounds which pop online. She even secured the Beckham seal of approval on the 0.5x selfie, when she posted a stretched arm, forehead focussed photo with Romeo in his dinner jacket.
Dua Lipa’s sister Rina is a fan. Models Leomie Anderson and Kai-Isaiah Jamal use them to get their friends in party snaps and feet in ‘fit pics. And Maxim Magnus and Jordan Grant, also London based models, are early adopters who currently swap a ‘bestie selfie’ using the 0.5x effect every day.
“We are all bored of normal iPhone photography now, and this gives some drama,” Grant says. “Good lighting and a long arm is key – and be careful what you’ve got on the floor, a wide lens captures a lot.”
Magda Kaczmarska, a content creator living in London, has gone further, using the distortion to take distinctive product pictures of platform heels and designer bags. They have helped her gain over 100k followers on Instagram. “It’s elevated the selfie,” she says. “People wanted to see something different. Just make sure to think about what you want your focus to be – I usually want the shoe to look huge, and my body to look weirdly small.”
You can call it the selfie’s great renaissance. In recent years, the style of self-portrait Paris Hilton once proudly claimed to invent has become the sole reserve of mums and people who spot Gemma Collins on the street. Now, it is time to get experimenting again.