Selfie:A strange phenomenon in which the photographer is also the subject of the photograph, in a subversive twist on the traditional understanding of the photograph. Usually conducted because the subject cannot locate a suitable photographer to take the photo, like a friend. ~Source: The Urban Dictionary
I started this post last year and just never quite completed it. Seeing this week’s photo challenge reminded of it, so I thought I’d finish it up.
I don’t personally take many #selfies. The photos you see here are a few that I have. The truth is, I just really like #selfies. And for some reason, I can’t stop studying them. I see them from an aesthetic, expressionist, perspective… as an inevitable product of the digital, media-centric age. i don’t take them too seriously, yet i am visually fascinated by them. I am intrigued by the phenomenon and its creative evolution. #selfies are a form of self-portraiture… an artistic genre that has been popular since roughly the mid 1500’s.
selfie shadow in the grass
While I would lean toward views of an underlying, or outright narcissism in regards to the #selfie, this quality can be healthy and beneficial, when practiced in reasonable and relatively limited doses. I have always been curious what it must feel like to have the confidence to look in the mirror, or at a photo of myself, and actually like what i see – physically… like it enough to blast it all over Facebook and Instagram. That type of confidence is foreign to me. I really have no idea what that feels like, since it has quite literally never happened. Friends and family, and even kind strangers would tell me it’s purely a lack of self-esteem. And in response, i would say… “yes it is about 50% that, and about 75%… “i do not have the looks or the body to even think about putting myself out there without being pummeled with insults”.
But a #selfie taker, at that moment they are snapping and posting their photo, must be experiencing some level of that confident feeling. I imagine one’s personal thoughts at that moment might range anywhere from:
a.”look at me, I’m not creepy, I have good hygene, hire me” to…
b. “look at me having fun, drinking heavily, looking tan!” to…
c. “don’t act like you don’t want some of this…!” to…
d. “duck face.”
I initially found myself unwillingly surrounded by #selfies as I patrolled Instagram for art, and photography (The social media site that has had my undivided attention since the introduction of high speed internet and mobile devices). But more recently, i am drawn to them as a form of creative expression. As inspiration for outfits and gestures for the naive-portraits i draw. I also ask myself honestly, if it was possible for me to like what i see in the mirror, would i engage in the same activity?… If I answered honestly, I would say, Probably. Why not? In fact, I have (extremely hesitantly) engaged in at least level a., if not occasionally in level b. And most of us who have any type of online presence probably have at some point. I know and love many people who practice full on level c and d. #selfies. And I am not ashamed to “like” them. My photos and art, whether specifically self-portraits or not, are just as much “about me”, as any #selfie photo i see on Instagram. It just took me longer to make it and it’s slightly more anonymous.
My purpose in writing this post, is not to express any judgement of the #selfie or what anyone shares online. It’s simply to light-heartedly notice those that succeed in catching your eye… regardless of the perfect six-pack and the number of hottie-hearts it generated. What is the photo really capturing? What comes through? What are they hiding? I have always been fascinated and inspired by portraits, and self-portraits… of all styles, genre’s and mediums. I have also always loved beauty and fashion… but don’t expect to see me wearing the latest designs and hairdo’s. I did enjoy some of that in my more youthful years, but these days fashion is a painful afterthought. As a hopeless introvert, I am very comfortable as the wall flower, the people watcher, the voyer to fictional personas. I am happy to be a humble observer in this #selfie mania… to imagine what the person could be thinking, and who someone is behind the mask of that image. I find #selfies to be among the many (while quick and easy) forms of self-portraiture and creative expression… an expression of sometimes deep and inward, sometimes practical, and often times shallow and self-centered motives… but regardless it is capturing a moment of a person’s existence. It’s important to that person for whatever reason, and that’s fascinating. And, it is out there in front of the entire world… forever. Powerful.
I began sketching a lot of naive portraits and #selfies without thinking about it much. I do my best with the little formal education I have to capture facial expressions and gestures, while embracing my lack of skill and artistic knowledge and just have fun with it. It wasn’t until I saw some of my sketches laid out and in print, that I thought about why I chose them as a subject and decided to write about it.
Share your #selfie thoughts and photos! Get crazy creative, and as dolled up as you like! Nothing wrong with feeling pretty… and flaunt it whether you’ve “got it” or not!!
Join in the challenge here! http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/weekly-photo-challenge-selfie/#more-68713
~selfies by me. Sketches by me. 🙂