Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

Selfies get a lot of hate The Best, Worst, & Funniest Selfies Of 2013 [Weird & Wonderful Web] The Best, Worst, & Funniest Selfies Of 2013 [Weird & Wonderful Web] This week in Weird & Wonderful Web, we delve deep into the world of selfies, taking a look at the best and worst examples of this phenomenon that hit us in a big, bad way... Read More , most of it entirely unwarranted. My esteemed colleague Dave Parrack has a particularly dim view of the art form 5 Things To Avoid When Taking Selfies 5 Things To Avoid When Taking Selfies Selfies shouldn’t be taken lightly, and there are many things you need to avoid. Read More , typical of most denegrations of the art home. Selfies are all too often written off as the egotistical masturbation of brainless teenagers, but that’s a superficial take on them.

As someone who takes at least a few selfies everyday, I’m here to correct this misconception. Selfies are an art form with deep history and personal meaning.

A Venerable Art Form

While the word “selfie” was only added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, artists have been creating them for a lot longer. The earliest painted self-portraits date from the 1400s — before good mirrors it was hard for people to do them — and the first photographic self-portrait, and incidentally the first photographic portrait, was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

Yes, selfies are more popular now than they ever have been before, but that’s only because, for the first time, the tools to create them are so readily available. Victorian gentlemen were no less egotistical than your average teen, they just had to pony up for someone else to snap the picture.

MUO-WhoIAm

It’s true that not every selfie is a work of art, but that is true of every form of expression ever created. As much as we venerate the great painters of past ages, there were countless amateurs producing work unworthy of being hung anywhere but the privy. The great works don’t elevate the poor works, but nor do the poor ones devalue the great ones. It is just that now, centuries later, all we see are the good ones. The bad ones have been quietly allowed to rot in peace.

Ads by Google

Today some selfies have artistic merit and some don’t. That’s okay. A selfie taken with Snapchat is a different beast to a selfie taken with some artistic intention. They both have their place but to dismiss all selfies as worthless is the height of snobbishness.

A Truly Personal Picture

No matter how good smartphone cameras get 6 Reasons Your Smartphone is the Best Camera You Own 6 Reasons Your Smartphone is the Best Camera You Own It might not be a digital SLR, but your smartphone is punching well above its weight when it comes to photography. The next time you go out, leave your old point and shoot at home. Read More , taking epic pictures of landmarks and tourist sites is next to impossible with them. Without access to a helicopter and a ten grand camera you’ll never take a photo of the Eiffel Tower that looks as good as the one on a postcard in a gift shop.

In an age where an image of almost anything, or anyone, can be downloaded from Instagram Can an Instagram Screenshot Be Art? [Internet Fight Club] Can an Instagram Screenshot Be Art? [Internet Fight Club] After news broke that Prince was seemingly printing off other people's Instagram photos and selling them for $90,000, the Internet reacted in the only way it knows how: with emotion. Read More in a moment there’s little to stop people Stop! Thief! Prevent Your Camera Being Stolen With Lenstag Stop! Thief! Prevent Your Camera Being Stolen With Lenstag Read More just posting images they found online to their Facebook page and claiming them as their own.

Want to give the appearance that you’re on an epic jaunt around South-East Asia? Just find some photos online and upload them from your bedroom. Dutch student Zilla van den Born, as part of a university project, did just that. Zilla took things a step further by faking photos in Amsterdam or Photoshopping herself into other people’s travel photos to really sell the idea she was in Asia. I’m sure you could get away with a lot less work.

MUOSelfies

This is where the selfie comes into its own. It’s candid and honest. Yes, you could go to the effort of faking it like Zilla did but it’s difficult and time-consuming task. A selfie taken at the Eiffel Tower isn’t about the Eiffel Tower, it’s about your personal trip there; how it made you feel, what you did, and how you want to remember it.

I’m a photographer. When I travel I take some deliberate, potentially commercial photos, but more than anything, I take selfies. My memories aren’t tied up in some carefully edited shot but are instead connected to drunk selfies at five in the morning.

To Show Real Emotions

More than anything, selfies are used to communicate. Snapchat is one of the most popular messaging apps for a very good reason 7 Reasons Snapchat is a Teenager's Favourite Social Network 7 Reasons Snapchat is a Teenager's Favourite Social Network The latest craze amongst the adults of the future is the secretive photo-sharing service Snapchat. Why do they love it? Read More : selfies are a great way to chat with your friends. Most of the (many) selfies I take are snapchat messages.

Decoding the tone of someone’s email or text message can be extremely hard. What one person thinks is an innocuous question can be interpreted as an interrogation by another. “So what did you do last night?” can, depending on where you place the emphasis, mean many different things. Emoticons and emoji go some way towards mitigating this problem but they can only convey a limited range of emotions An Emoji to English Dictionary: Emoji Faces' Meaning, Explained An Emoji to English Dictionary: Emoji Faces' Meaning, Explained Confused by a text? Here are the commonly accepted meanings of popular emoji. Read More .

If you really want to show your friends you’re happy, sad, exasperated, tired, or anything else, a selfie of you smiling, frowning, hitting your head off your desk, lying in bed, or whatever best fits your mood is a far more engaging, emotional, and fun way to show how you feel. You’re not stuck using a small yellow circle with weird eyes to make your point but instead create your own emoticons with the face they know and — one would hope — love.

The Final Frame

Selfies aren’t just the preserve of mindless teenagers, drunk on hormones and a sense of their own importance. Anyone with a smartphone can, and should, be taking them. Not only are you celebrating an ancient art form, you create more personal mementos and can show your true feelings digitally.

Just because some people with selfie sticks act like complete pricks I Acted Like A Prick With a Selfie Stick, Here's How People Reacted I Acted Like A Prick With a Selfie Stick, Here's How People Reacted Basically, no one reacted. No glares, shouted warnings, or lobbed projectiles. People just weren't that fussed. Read More , don’t write the medium off completely. Embrace the beauty of your own face, use the front facing camera, pout, and click the shutter.

  1. Philip Bates
    July 30, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    That first image? Stuff of nightmares.

    But seriously, well done Harry for arguing such a difficult opinion. It was never going to be one openly welcomed by many: people associate selfies with egotism, being self-absorbed. But it's the product of a social network-obsessed society. It's a sign of confidence, so I guess that's a positive thing, but for people not entirely happy with how they look, they're a form of torture.

  2. fcd76218
    July 29, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    "Selfies are all too often written off as the egotistical masturbation of brainless teenagers"
    Not just 'brainless teenagers', but 'brainless people'. It isn't just the act of self-absorbed egotism but the same, stupid, unoriginal faces the egotists are making in the selfies.

    "As someone who takes at least a few selfies everyday"
    You're here to present the egotists view point.

    "Without access to a helicopter and a ten grand camera"
    Even with an access to a helicopter and the resources of a major photo studio, 99.9% of the tourist couldn't/wouldn't be able to take a decent landmark picture if their life depended on it. They all take the same hackneyed pictures. They all stand in the same place, shoot against the same background, compose their picture the same way, have their friends make the same stupid faces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *