The World of Selfies

The World of Selfies

I think you’d all agree with me that everyone, ok maybe not e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, but most certainly a high percentage of everyone’s Facebook friends has taken to taking selfies of themselves. Am I right? It seems to be the latest craze. And it is certainly the latest ‘in’ word as it made the Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2013.

Anyway most of us would think that this craze started a few years ago when digital cameras and mobile phones with cameras made it easier to take photographs of ourselves. Wrong!

In fact selfies seems to be a whole lot older that that … a LOT older.

Australian genealogy company findmypast.com.au have done some checking around looking for the world’s oldest selfie, and have come up with two candidates. The first dating from 1839, the second from the 1920s.

According to the Library of Congress, this early daguerreotype was the “first photographic portrait”. It was taken by Robert Cornelius, an American metallurgist and pioneer of photography, around October 1839.

According to the Library of Congress, this early daguerreotype was the “first photographic portrait”. It was taken by Robert Cornelius, an American metallurgist and pioneer of photography, around October 1839

A group of New York photographers, 1920

A group of New York photographers, 1920

The photo above, snapped in 1920, is the self-taken portrait of five well-known American photographers; Uncle Joe Byron, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, Pop Core and Ben Falk.

Uncannily similar to the selfies of today, it is visible that two of the subjects’ arms are stretched out to prop up the camera.

You can read the full findmypast.com.au post about it here, which has more details relating to each photo.

My great great great auntie Ida Vinblad (sometimes Winblad) was a photographer and had her own photo studio in Finland back in the later 1800s-early 1900s, and I have managed to find a few photographs that she had taken thanks to the Finna website. – which is a place for the Finnish archives, museums and libraries to put their collections together in a single place. Alas there is no selfie, or even a portrait shot of her yet. Maybe one day I’ll find something.

Anyway I’m not much of a selfie taker, not surprising since i’m not much of a photographer anyway. Kind of just the point-and-shoot-kind-of-person. But then again maybe I just haven’t mastered the art of it. I just can’t seem to get the whole still looking decent thing (or even at least half decent), which includes not pulling a face even though you think you’re smiling, and not having a double or triple chin thing happening. All of this as well as managing to push the button without chopping off your head, I find to be quite a feat.

Fortunately with the advent of digital, it means those 25 or so pics you just took of yourself simply get sent to the trash bin, rather than you having to take your roll of film in to the photo shop, pay to have them processed and then be disappointed when you collect your photos.

Anyway the picture below is one selfie I do have of me that’s ok. It was taken at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City when I visited in March 2013 for RootsTech. I was busily checking through their microfilms seeing what records I could find relating to one of my families who went to New Jersey.

this is one selfie I do have of my, it was taken at the Family History Library in SLC when I visited in March 2013. I was busy checking through their microfilms

selfie of moi – taken March 2013

So are you a selfie taker? Are you reli’s going to have a great record of you and what you did, and where you went through viewing your selfies?

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