I Tried a Selfie Museum to Overcome My Camera Shyness and This Is What Happened


Hi, my name is Stephanie. You may know me as Groupon’s resident super single or a chronically anxious person with sinus issues, but here’s another superlative to throw into the mix: I feel really awkward when having my photo taken. In fact, much like Jenna Marbles, I only have three looks. I like to affectionately call them the lobotomy stare, the eyebrow surprise and the “I am smiling.”

Exhibit A
Three photos of author Stephanie posing awkwardly for photos.
Exhibit B
Exhibit C

Needless to say, when I first heard about the concept of a selfie studio or selfie museum, my reaction was pretty much like you’d expect: people go to DIY photography studios for fun? But when I did a little research about them, I realized that it could actually be cathartic for someone like me to try. So I decided to book an appointment and give it a shot. (Or about 200 of them!)

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Booking the Appointment

A quick search on the Groupon app revealed that there were not one, not two, but six selfie museums near me in Metro Detroit. So how did I choose one? By the one that had the best name, of course!

I bought my ticket for Zany Bubbles in Keego Harbor, Mich., and then followed the redemption instructions outlined in the voucher. (All I had to do was schedule an appointment with them via text or phone. It was super simple.)

I also realized that I would need someone to go with me to help me look less uncomfy in front of the camera. (And while this is a “selfie” studio where you have complete control, you can have other people in your party take your pics for you, which is what I did!) So I did what any of you reading would do and asked my mom to come with me to be my personal hype man. (Thanks, ma!)

The Experience

Author Stephanie posing for a photo in a selfie studio.

On the way there I was actually pretty nervous. You might say I had visions of bad angles and dead eyes dancing in my head. But when we pulled up, I saw it was located next to a Dairy Queen and took that as a good omen. (Who doesn’t love Dairy Queen?)

Upon entering the building, I instinctively followed the sound of top 40 pop music down to the basement. It was there that we were greeted by the many bright, colorful “exhibits” — and the owner of the shop. I told her I was there for my 3 p.m. appointment and showed her my voucher. She gave me a quick-but-thorough tutorial of the ring light she handed me. After that, it was go-time.

Author Stephanie posing for a photo in a selfie studio.

As soon as I took my place in front of the first exhibit, I was immediately flooded with thoughts like, “What should I do with my hands? What should my face be doing? Are people watching?!” But the longer I was in front of a camera, the quieter my brain got. It also helped that my mom, a former ballet dancer, was giving me suggestions on how to pose.

Author Stephanie posing for a photo in a ball pit.

We moved from exhibit to exhibit, and I had a lot of fun interacting with all the props. There was one with a literal throne and crowns to wear. One exhibit had a bunch of swinging lights that reminded me of Edison bulbs. Another was set up to look like a kissing booth. But if I had to pick, my personal favs were the ball pit, the angel and devil backdrops and the Insta-influencer couch that had a neon sign and flowers in the background.

Final Thoughts

If you had asked me prior to this experiment, I would have told you that I wouldn’t enjoy going to a selfie museum. But in a strange turn of events, I actually had a really good time. Don’t get me wrong, I never felt 100% confident in front of the camera, but I think the photos turned out pretty good. I’ll probably even get a few of these photos printed. (CanvasOnSale, anyone?)

Surprisingly, the biggest benefit was that it changed how I look at selfies in general. If I’m being totally honest, I used to think it was kind of, well, shallow. But now I realize that selfie museums are all about self-love. And in a world that’s isn’t always the most uplifting of places, it was really nice to spend some time in an environment that encourages you to love yourself a little more.

Advice for Beginners

Ready to give a selfie museum a go? Here’s some pointers for your first visit:

1. Bring a Friend

I know it’s called a selfie museum, but you’ll want to bring someone to help you take photos. Besides, it’s way more fun to take silly photos as a duo or group!

2. Wear a Comfortable Outfit

I had considered wearing this new, fancy dress I ordered from Collectif, but I realized I should probably just wear something that I already knew I’d feel good in. I recommend you do the same, because it’s never fun having to stop and tug at your clothes because they’re doing unexpected things.

3. Use the Ring Light

Throughout the session, we took photos with and without the ring light to compare them. Using the ring light definitely makes a difference.

4. Don’t Forget the Props

With so much to look at, it’s almost easy to forget about the props, but you should try to use them as much as possible. Not only do they add visual interest to your photos, but they give you something to do with your hands.

5. Have Fun

‘Nuff said!

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Phone showing the Groupon App

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