Take a scroll through your phones photo album. How many of those photos are selfies… mine, embarrassingly around 80%.
Why? Because it’s easy! A selfie is a moment, your moment, instantly captured and more often then not it is captured multiple times. A selfie can be considered an art form in its own right. It is technically a form of a self-portrait, as it is a representation of the self, but it is strictly a photographic image taken by the individual, of the individual, and mostly for the individual through a hand held device such as an iPhone. The foundations of a selfie come from the self-portrait but it has many distinct differences. One of them being the ability to present yourself at your best just the way you want to.
When asked to define what a selfie is, it is quite simple but before today if you had asked me to state the difference between a selfie and a self portrait I wouldn’t have had a lot to say. After reading through BBC’s ‘Self –portraits and social media: The rise of the ‘sefie’’ in relation to the Guardians “Getty’s In Focus exhibition snaps the birth of the middle class’ I have been able to come up with an answer.
A self portrait is very different to a selfie as it is a representation of the self, rather then a direct image of the self. Portraits are not restricted to images but are often presented through artistic means such as photography, paintings, sculptures etc. Each aspect of a self-portrait has been thought out or planned and because of this has a notion of permanence. It contains so much more than just a face. It could be a compilation of things that reflects ones self such as family or places specific to the individual. Nor does it necessarily have to be a still image such as the infamous selfie, it can be a film recording or really anything that can reflect an individual’s essence.
This can be hard to do though if one doesn’t have a clear sense of their identity and where exactly they might fit into the world. So next time you pick up your phone for a selfie have a think about its distant yet still significant background from self-portraits.