Don’t deny it. We’ve all swiped through filters and tried out new angles in search of the perfect selfie. It’s a rite of passage in the world of social media, as demonstrated by the millions upon millions of selfies plastered across Instagram. But taking a good selfie is no easy feat. First you’ve got the photobombers to avoid, then you need to find lighting that brings out your features in all their glory.
What if we told you that all you had to do to capture the perfect selfie was to jump in an elevator?
The photogenic qualities of the lift have been exposed by celebrities, politicians and now hotel chains are even getting in on the act – Marriott recently launched the ‘selfie elevator’ complete with props in its new millennial-friendly hotel chain. But what is it about the humble lift that has seen it elevated from a hot box of social awkwardness to a photo studio for the masses?
Celebrities have fuelled the elevator selfie trend
The lift has long been the perfect opportunity for an ephemeral photo-op. Anyone armed with a camera can take those few seconds stuck in limbo to snap away. But it’s only recently that lift interiors have become iconic backdrops for photographs, and this has largely been influenced by those in the public eye.
Stephen Fry’s 2009 selfie in a broken elevator caused a Twitter storm, while more recently the cast of popular Netflix shows Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why and Dear White People assembled for one of the most popular celebrity selfies of all time, giving the iconic 2014 Oscars shot a run for its money. Even the incessantly controversial Donald Trump has been at it, posing for a viral photograph with Nigel Farage in a lavish elevator last year.
So far, so ridiculous. But there are actual reasons why elevators make for the perfect selfie, both practical and aesthetic.
Why do elevators make for flawless selfies?
Firstly, elevators often provide a very rare moment of solitude, provided you’re moving between floors alone. Aside from a fleeting moment of self-thought, this is also an opportunity to take a picture without risk of being photobombed. Any experienced selfie extraordinaire knows how difficult these opportunities can be to come by.
Secondly, lift interiors offer very flattering environments. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors are regularly used to create the illusion of space, but for you this means uninfringed self observation and full length outfit shots. There’s also the promise of low level lighting which hits all of the right parts of the face, sharpening your features and hiding anything you’d be otherwise be trying to filter out.
The introduction of luxury elevators increases the lift selfie stakes even higher. The Londonist released a list of the top ten lifts in the UK capital, each an impressive and elegant pieces of art.
Likewise, the rise of skyscraper elevators with see-through exteriors means you can take selfies with awe-inspiring backdrops – pure Instagram gold. In fact, passenger lifts offer some of the best views of London according to Premier Platform Lifts, who claim: “Soaring, multi-floor glass lifts are timeless, and because of the gorgeous views they can offer they never go out of style.”
Could our obsession with selfie elevators ever go too far?
Let’s take our exploration of lift selfie culture to Japan, a hotbed of digital trendsetters and social innovators, and to Yoshi, a Japanese selfie-taker who boasts 29,000 followers on his Instagram page. Vogue, who describe Yoshi’s occupation as “being young, taking elevator selfies, and loving off-white” claim that there is genuine artistic value to his choice of studio. They claim that “the yawn-worthy setting lends great contrast to his pieces, such as a pair of glinting silver pointy toe boots.”
In Russia, one woman made the headlines for complaining that her local lift was no longer suitable for selfies. Writing to the manager of her apartment block in Zelenograd, the woman claimed that all of her friends had mirrors in elevators from which they could take selfies, but the elevator she used everyday did not.
Stories like this make it easy to forget that lifts are not designed to be Vogue-esque photoshoot locations. Perhaps the idea of simply getting us from A to B is simply too conventional for the digital generation. But then again, if lift interiors are really where we look our best, why would you not want to capture it?