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The Everlasting Selfie

Robert Cornelius

Robert Cornelius – The First Light Picture Ever Taken

What would our smartphones be without a selfie camera staring at you day and night as you browse away, checking your Instagram or your Twitter feed, always at the ready should its user decide that right now would be the perfect time for a selfie.

There are a plethora of famous types of selfie, including The Bathroom Selfie, The Gym Selfie, The Duckface Selfie, The Pouting Selfie, The My Good Side Only Selfie, The Crazy Face Selfie, The Bed Selfie, The Group Selfie, The Beach Feet Selfie and The I Met A Celebrity Selfie.

Whichever selfie(s) you prefer, you’ve probably taken, or been a part of, at least one in your lifetime. In fact, Google reported that 24 billion selfies had been uploaded to its Photos app in 2015 alone.

Although we may think the selfie is a relatively new concept, you may be surprised to learn that what many people regard as the first ever portrait taken with a photographic machine was actually a self portrait, or a selfie, way back in 1839 by amateur chemist and photo enthusiast Robert Cornelius, which he titled, “The First Light Picture Ever Taken.”


Self Portrait With Two Circles

However, even before that, painters had been painting selfies of themselves for centuries, take Rembrandt for example, probably one of the most famous self portrait painters ever, who was painting self portraits all the way back in the 1600s.

Selfies are a staple of the modern web, wherever you look there is someone staring right back at you, endlessly, and you yourself cannot look away because at its heart, there is something enduring about the selfie, something which captures its viewer’s attention and holds it. There is something magical about looking at a portrait of someone, be it painted or photographed, but when that portrait is a self-portrait, that’s when things become really amazing.

The person who took the selfie is letting you in, they are opening up and showing you their inner selves, it doesn’t matter if they are making a silly face, or pouting, or doing whatever, the more you stare at that selfie, the more you see the person behind it, and then when you realise that they took that photo themselves and decided to let us in, to open up in this overly critical world, then you realise just how brave it was in the first place to take the photo, never mind upload it.

A selfie can tell you about a person’s happiness, their loneliness, sadness, anger, confusion, gratefulness, fear, pride, there is so much you can read from a persons face and when that face has been captured for all eternity, reading it becomes a study.

So, the next time we are scanning through everyone’s selfies on your chosen photo platform, give everyone the props, and the likes, they deserve for their bravery, and if you’re about to take a selfie right now… smile!


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