Selfie. It’s one of many internet words that, despite its pervasiveness in the digital world, sends us quivering and recoiling when we hear it IRL. But that hasn’t stopped the term from being crowned Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 and reportedly increasing in usage by 17,000 per cent since this time last year.
Regardless of whether you see selfies as an emblem of narcissism, an act of third wave feminism or a cry for help – they’re still a form of self-portraiture, a depiction of one’s self at a particular point in time and a trace of our existence.
Notable American author Susan Sontag once wrote, “One of the tasks of photography is to disclose, and shape our sense of, the variety of the world… The camera shows us many worlds, and the point is that all the images are valid.” With that, here’s our list of top 10 free apps to take the best selfie, however you please…
1) Glitché – “Distort your photos into works of digital art”
Founded by Vladimir Schreyder, the noisy photo-distorting iPhone app allows you to take your images through a datamosh of trippy and interactive filters. Glitché has already caught the attention of fashion photographer Nick Knight, who used the app to shoot the Diesel Tribute campaign.
2) Shots of Me – “A fun and simple way to share selfie photos!”
Days before Oxford Dictionaries anointed ‘selfie’ as word of the year, news broke that Justin Bieber had backed Shots of Me, a new photo-sharing iOS app and social network exclusively for selfies… But *how* did he know? And is Justin Bieber the new Ashton Kutcher of startup investing?
3) Frontback – “You, and what you see”
Since its launch in August, Frontback – the photo app that creates two-photo diptychs using the front and rear cameras of your iPhone – has garnered 300,000 downloads and picked up around $3m in funding. Ashton Kutcher is using it… so is the Prime Minister of Belgium. But the best part? This quote from Frontback founder Fred della Faille on using the app: “I feel like an emoji. Your face is the caption.”
4) MomentCam – “Life is beautiful as MomentCam is wonderful”
Hailing from China, MomentCam – which is available on iOS and Google Play – transforms your image into an ethereal cartoon character. The photo app has reportedly been topping app-ranking charts both in the AppStore as well as on Google Play internationally.
5) EyeEm – “Take and discover beautiful photos”
EyeEm – the Berlin-based photography community and marketplace – offers 17 filters and a sleek interface on its mobile app available on iOS and Android. Lucky for you, as of earlier this month, you can be super gnarly and take selfies from an iPad! Comparisons with Instagram are inevitable, but what sets EyeEm apart is its focus on photography (as opposed to a social photo diary), advanced image discovery function and option for users to sell their images.
6) VSCO cam – “The standard of mobile photography is here”
Thanks to the mobile photo-sharing world, we have a new talent: the ability to spot an Instagram filter from 10 feet away… Enter VSCO Cam. The iOS app – which will soon be available on Android – provides an array of editing tools, “innovative processing techniques” (aka filters) and an elegant interface that allows users to focus on the image.
Berlin-based Loopcam, a predecessor to Twitter’s Vine app, lets users create a different kind of selfie – a moving one. You should know that The Associated Press’ Korea Bureau Chief Jean H Lee uses the app to provide an inside look into life in North Korea. The GIF-animating iPhone app also recently expanded its features with a new set of filters and face stickers.
8) Dubble – “Simply shoot, mix and connect”
Launched last month, Dubble is an iOS app-based photo network that allows you to randomly mix and create double exposure photos digitally. The user experience isn’t exactly intuitive, but there is an in-app guide to help. Once you’ve tinkered around a bit, you’ll find that Dubble is like shaking a Magic 8 Ball – but instead of an answer, you’ll get an unexpected (and sometimes awkward) overlay of images.
9) Instagram – “Capture and share the world’s moments”
Good ol’ Instagram. It’s likely half of these apps would have looked completely different had the photo-sharing behemoth not come along in 2010. We don’t have much more to say about it… except read this.
10) Krop Circle
If you frame your face in Krop Circle’s one and only free filter, you’re essentially using an app to create an Instagram profile photo, which is excessive at best. But if you shell out $0.99, you’ll be able to create selfies that look like the cover of this XX album.