Face facts, reader: we are living in the age of the selfie. Whether you feel this is good clean fun, or the horrible drawn-out death of the selfless individual, you need to get with the programme and start taking shots of yourself and your groufie homies. And to seriously commit to self portraiture, you need a selfie stick. (if you are a keen iPhone photographer, see our piece: How to shoot brilliant time-lapse videos on iPhone.)
For those who don't know (and welcome to planet earth) selfie sticks are smartphone accessories that allow you to hold your camera phone away from your body, and capture a self-portrait or group shot that doesn't include your own arm. And they are super popular.
Selfie sticks range in price from a few quid up to the best part of a hundred quid. And you get what you pay for. For better quality sticks, visit a dedicated camera store. Look for a model that's sturdy when extended; look for a soft, thick handle, and perhaps a remote for the shutter, rather than a button built in to the handle. We have a guide to the best selfie sticks for iPhone, here.
The best quality selfie sticks have remote controllers to take shots. Others have hardware buttons, and some have no controls at all. So in this piece I will tell you how to take a photo using any iPhone selfie stick. You are most welcome.
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: Bluetooth-connected remote control
The idea behind many of the better (also: more expensive) selfie sticks is that they come with a Bluetooth-connected remote control. And this is how you depress the shutter to snap your photo.
Pairing is as simple as is any Bluetooth device - typically you press a button on the stick, and then 'find' it using the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone. Once paired up, you simply open up your chosen camera app, position the phone on the end of the stick to take the photo you desire, and then use the remote control to take the photo.
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: manual shutter button
Slightly further down the selfie-stick pecking order are those sticks - such as the Olixar Smart Selfie Pole - that come with a built-in shutter button at the bottom of the stick. Again, usage is pretty simple. Set up the stick as instructed, and when you press the button at the bottom of the stick it will take a photo.
Those were the easy ones.. We'll now go to how to use a selfie stick without a remote control, something on which our valued colleagues/hated enemies at PC Advisor have written this guide: How to use a selfie stick without a remote control.
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: use a self-timer
The cheaper selfie sticks are just that: sticks. They allow you to position your iPhone to take a photo without featuring your elbow, but leave to your own skill and imagination the thorny issue of how to take the bloody picture.
The best way to take a selfie without touching your screen is to use a self-timer feature. Any iPhone running iOS 8 or later will have this functionality built-in, and you can specify either a three- or 10-second delay. There are also plenty of free apps in the App Store that offer self-timer functionality.
It is a little bit more fiddly than using a full-featured selfie stick, of course. You have to set the timer with the phone in the selfie stick, then set up the shot and wait for those 10 seconds to tick down. But it is a feasible way of using a selfie stick when there is no remote- or shutter button.
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: use gestures
The alternative to using a self-timer is to use a gesture (with the arm that's not holding the selfie stick, of course). This may not be as easy as using the timer, but it is an option.
If you're an iPhone user you should check out the GoCam app from Crunchfish in the App Store. It's free and lets you capture selfies from up to 10ft away using a simple hand movement. CamMe is a similar app for iPads and iPhones, which takes a photo following a recognised hand gesture. There's also Selfie Cam, which automatically takes a selfie when you smile. (See also: Complete guide to Snapchat.)
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: voice commands?
iPhones support the command "Take a selfie" when you call up Siri. Unfortunately, doing so merely launches the Camera app, and the need to press the button yourself defeats the purpose of using a selfie stick. This should change soon, we think. (See also: How to set up a new iPhone.)
How to use a selfie stick with your iPhone: tips for taking selfie stick shots
Firstly, you need to be aware that selfie sticks aren't stable, so any photos you take with them might turn out blurry due to excessive shake. A poorly balanced stick, a too-hard-to-press Bluetooth shutter button, and a bending pole can all be cause for shake. For this reason, a selfie stick needs to be held as stable as possible, your camera should have stabilisation enabled, and you should perhaps use a timer to set off the shot.
At these angles, how will you know what your framing looks like? With a smartphone, you will probably just shoot and hope for the best as you press the Bluetooth shutter. If you have a compact camera with Wi-Fi on the end of your pole, then you can use the remote viewfinder application in conjunction with your smartphone to frame and take your shot. Of course, this could be difficult with only two hands, so you should get anyone who's with you to either hold the pole or the smartphone. Otherwise, you could use the timer function to snap the pic while holding the pole as steady as possible. (See also: How to take a screenshot on iPhone or iPad.)