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?

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