September 15, 2014


some thoughts on selfies and self portraits

mirror reflection photo

People have been turning the camera on themselves since the 1800s (Robert Cornelius took possibly the first photographic self-portrait in 1838).
And before that, there were self portraits made of charcoal and oil paints.

Selfies and self portraits certainly aren’t new.

I don’t know what the definitive difference between the two is.
(I don’t think anyone knows.)
And there’s certainly a lot of middle ground between, a selfie taken in the bathroom mirror, and a self portrait of/by Frida Kahlo.

But here are some off-the-cuff thoughts from someone who is
a) terrified to cameras & having her picture taken,
b) has taken a picture of herself every day for 45 days and plans to continue for another 320 days,
and c) still can’t decide if she’s taking selfies or self portraits.

Thought 1: A selfie says “look at me, look at what I’m doing/where I am/who I’m with.” A self portrait says “this is who I am.”

Thought 2: A selfie is a picture designed for other people to see. No one takes a selfie for themselves. A self portrait is you creating an image of yourself for yourself. The process of creating the image is part of the point.

Thought 3: A selfie tries to erase or minimize “flaws.” Some self portraits try to minimize or erase flaws, but some don’t, and some embrace them.

Thought 4: A selfie is disposable, it gains no depth from a second viewing. A self portrait (at least a good one) has layers that can be explored and uncovered, through multiple viewings.

Thought 5: You “take” selfies. You “create” self portraits.

But can a selfie become a self portrait?

And when is a self portrait really a selfie?