A woman takes a selfie from a high angle
A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated withsocial networking, like Instagram. They are often casual, are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror, and typically include either only the photographer or the photographer and as many people as can be in focus, which is more commonly known as a ‘group selfie’ Contents
The first known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839
Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.”
Early Edwardian woman taking her picture in a mirror roughly 1900
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia taking one of the first teenage self-portraits The debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box. Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote, “I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.” The concept of uploading group self-taken photographs (now known as super selfies) to the internet, although with a disposable camera not a smartphone, dates to a webpage created by Australians in September 2001, including photos taken in the late 1990s (captured by the Internet Archive in April 2004). The earliest usage of the word selfie can be traced as far back as 2002. It first appeared in an Australian internet forum (ABC Online) on 13 September 2002. Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.
The term “selfie” was discussed by photographer Jim Krause in 2005, although photos in the selfie genre predate the widespread use of the term. In the early 2000s, before Facebook became the dominant online social network, self-taken photographs were particularly common on MySpace. However, writer Kate Losse recounts that between 2006 and 2009 (when Facebook became more popular than MySpace), the “MySpace pic” (typically “an amateurish, flash-blinded self-portrait, often taken in front of a bathroom mirror”) became an indication of bad taste for users of the newer Facebook social network. Early Facebook portraits, in contrast, were usually well-focused and more formal, taken by others from distance. In 2009 in the image hosting and video hosting website Flickr, Flickr users used ‘selfies’ to describe seemingly endless self-portraits posted by teenage girls. According to Losse, improvements in design—especially the front-facing camera copied by the iPhone 4 (2010) from Korean and Japanese mobile phones, mobile photo apps such as Instagram, and selfie sites such as ItisMee—led to the resurgence of selfies in the early 2010s.
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