Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Selfies...Love 'em or Hate 'em


Of all the social ills befalling our society—and they are legion—I’d say the “selfie epidemic” is mostly a non-problem.          

Digital photography is a miracle.

Like the internet, which has allowed me to indulge my writing compulsion, digital photography has given me the opportunity to cater to my photography bug to an extent I never would have if the medium still consisted of 35mm SLRs, fragile film, fade-prone paper images and brittle negatives. 

I’ve always loved to take pictures—bought my first SLR with my first tax refund in 1974.  But I could never afford to acquire all the paraphernalia and classes it would have taken to properly indulge my fascination with photography…in the world in which I was raised, one did not “waste” thousands of dollars on a hobby, and I knew I was not smitten enough with the medium to develop it into a career.  So I invested in a string of bottom-of-the-line SLRs with inexpensive filters and equipment, purchased countless rolls of film, and amassed boxes of thirty years worth of prints and slides.  Some of them not too bad, given the bargain-basement gear with which I was working.

In 2003, I bought my first digital camera—a primitive thing, by today’s standards.  Can’t offhand recall how many megapixels it was…if there was indeed an entire megapixel to be had in those first heavily pixilated images.  So, through a subsequent string of ever-improving digital cameras, I’ve amassed a couple thousand digital images.  Again…some of them almost creditable. 

Yet in all those boxes, and among all those megabytes, I might personally own less than a dozen pictures of myself.  When you’re typically the one behind the camera, if you want to acquire a shot of yourself at family functions, weddings and vacations, you are obligated to walk up to some other person, hand them your camera and say, “Here…take a picture with ME in it, wouldya?”  And on the occasions when you actually screw up the courage to DO that, the resulting image generally makes you wish you hadn’t.  And you can hardly hand the camera back to your draftee photographer and insist they keep shooting until they come up with one you like.

The only recourse is the “selfie,” and I’ve been taking them for years.  Ever since I discovered that my cameras came equipped with self-timers that gave me the opportunity to be on both sides of the lens, so to speak.  Set the camera down (it’s a real luxury if you own a tripod), activate the little timer, click the shutter and run.  If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough time to collect yourself, pose and smile.  Not enough time, and you are reduced to a blur on the edge of the group…like a bit of accidentally captured ectoplasm.  Too much time, and your pose begins to decay…you lose concentration, turn your head, close your eyes, swat at a bee…  Creating the perfect selfie is a skill in its own right. 


Which is why “delete” is my favorite button on the camera, slightly edging out the self-timer.  I can take dozens of atrocious pictures—and believe me, I do—and with the touch of a couple buttons, *poof* they are gone forever.  Love, love LOVE!!!

My creativity knows no bounds when it comes to contriving to get myself into a picture...  

Self-styled  internet social analysts are declaring that the current “selfie” trend is an indicator of our society’s increasing narcissism and self-absorption.  I beg to differ.  I think that in most cases, selfies are the work of us eternally frustrated camera geeks who are finally able to create images which prove that WE were at the Washington Monument, or the Paul McCartney Concert, or Mount Rushmore, or Grandma’s house at Christmas.  We are totally in love with the fact that we can now be part of our own historical record.  

 So what harm does it do to lighten up and let folks smile, instead of cringe, at pictures of themselves?  There are way more important things to complain about…     



  1. You are very creative with your selfies, the best I've seen. Love your Christmas mantel too. Sheila

  2. I take terrible selfie's and I'm in almost no photos...so maybe I need to practice more with the selfie idea....

  3. oh, and the photo on the side, is one of my selfie efforts, converted to b/w

  4. Not too bad, Terri. Could be improved with a little practice... :D

  5. I hate to see myself in pics. Who is that fat old person? Not me!1 Hell no, in my mind I still look like I did at 35!! Not 60. And my dear, you look marvelous!

  6. I'm not so great at selfies, but I have often felt the frustration of being the family photographer and loving all the pictures of this one and that with this one and that. Except, eventually someone will ask, 'Where were you?' Ha. Where do you think? I don't take a lot of myself, but I agree with you ... it's nice to be able to include yourself in your history. Not just the mountain or the river or the tour guide. :)