What is a Selfie Stick? And Do You Need One?

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While I was out in Albuquerque I first saw a selfie stick in action. I’d been hearing about them but never seen one wielded. It wasn’t really my style, but as a solo traveler who holds frequent internal debates about carrying a tripod vs asking others to get pictures with me in them, I thought I should try it out.

I assumed I was the last to hear about these, but turns out I’m not. So if also had no idea and/or are appalled I might be talking about something so personal on the blog, here it is.

It’s basically a hand-held expandable monopod leg that secures your camera so you can take selfies or group shots that also capture scenery that your arm cannot.

selfie stick review amazon

I debated about going cheap and just getting the basic selfie stick above. With that model you set your phone on voice commands or timer.

Or getting one with a hand held bluetooth remote.

selfie stick with bluetooth remote

In the end I decided on the bluetooth button in the handle though it was the most expensive at ~$20.

selfie stick with bluetooth button

With visions of losing the remote or trying to take a picture with one hand on the remote and the other bracing the stick, I figured the button was easier. And definitely better than constantly having to set the timer (I didn’t realize my phone did voice commands).

How did it work?

I first tried it last weekend, having a lot of fun but embarrassing my friends. The verdict, the pictures did not look like a selfie, but they did look like a drone had flown by and taken the picture. HA! I took it on my trip to Sicily this weekend and experimented at the Teatro Greco in Taormina.

Basic Selfie with more background

Basic Selfie with more background

Drone style selfie

Drone style selfie

Selfie stick review candid with background

Awkward but non-selfie

Full-length selfie

Full-length selfie

Of course this is when it started acting up, every time I pressed the bluetooth button it tried to zoom rather than take pictures. That’s when I learned I could yell “smile” or “cheese.” Awkward when other people were walking by but got the job done. 🙂

I also discovered that the phone is not held securely as it appears to be, so you need to be cautious when using it or risk it falling out.


None of my pictures came out great, but they’re better than what I would have had otherwise. With a little practice, it is actually a great way to take solo or group pictures and capture a lot of the background. The pictures do look a little awkward at times, but not like a traditional selfie. And when it’s extended to it’s full 3 ft + length it looks less like a tourist device and more like technical equipment.

I probably will be taking it with me on trips with great scenery, though I really need to get the bluetooth figured out. I don’t want to be yelling “SMILE” at the camera again.

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  1. Heather

    November 11, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I LOVE my selfie stick! I bought one in Venice a few weeks back, including the bluetooth clicker and have taken some fabulous photos with it. I am honestly not sure what I did before it, as I use it not to just take selfies but also regular pictures – find it much easier to hold than my iPhone and I use the bluetooth.


  2. Brian Cohen

    November 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I saw these all over Europe and Asia on my recent unintentional trip around the world; and although I do not see myself ever using one, I did wonder why they were not more prevalent in the United States…

    • Keri Anderson

      November 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Apparently they’re not very prevalent in Sicily yet. People thought I was a little crazy!

  3. Nick

    November 11, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Selfie sticks are the modern day fanny pack. Useful? Perhaps. People making fun of you for using one? You betcha.

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  5. Keith

    November 13, 2014 at 1:02 am

    I saw them for the first time at Grand Canyon last month. Lots of people used them to reach out over the edge in addition to wide scenery selfies.

    I guess they are more popular at the big tourist spots.

  6. Krystyna

    November 13, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I saw about 5 of these in use in Hawaii a few weeks ago. One guy even had an app that showed him the view from the selfie stick before he clicked the button to take the photo.

  7. Marsha

    November 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    All the Japanese tourists under 25 had them in northern Europe this past May.

  8. Lisa

    November 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I first saw these in February when we were in Amsterdam, then again in April in Japan and Italy. They seemed pretty common in Europe and Asia. I don’t want one more thing to pack, so I’m not planning to get one yet.

  9. EY

    February 28, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I bought a fancy one in the Mongkok Computer Center (Hong Kong) for $15 with a plush handle, ability to switch out for a GoPro, and turn-twist locking smooth pole extension not unlike how a tripod’s legs extend. Love it! The brand I got was MoMax, and I think it might be found online too. Best part is the smoothly extending pole rather than yanking on the pole of the cheap $5 ones.

    I believe this phenomenon started with Korean tourists, but yes, everyone in Asia has one, and you don’t get made fun of for it there. 🙂

    • EY

      February 28, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Oh, I recently bought a replacement for the iPhone holder that has a MIRROR on it (ebay $3). That way I can use the higher-quality back camera but still aim correctly. You can stick your own mirror on with some trial and error, but I was lazy and just bought it.

      And yes, I’m Asian. 😉

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