The term 'Selfie' is relatively new and bandied about frequently by the younger set. But, did you know that the term is rather restrictive? According to several un-official, pop sources, selfies are only selfies when you take a pic of yourself with a small camera or smartphone for the purpose of sharing via social media. Apparently, some have cautioned that group shots are NOT selfies (I disagree) and that the optimal version of a selfie involves a mirror with eyes looking anywhere but right at the camera: Many have declared that this is the new doomsday sign of a narcissistic society that doesn't have a clue about real social issues.
I'll leave the social implications to the experts and challenge the rest of you to look through your family collections for "ancestral" or "vintage" selfies. I will post a few from my own collection, but here are some thoughts about what characteristics might qualify a vintage photo as a 'selfie':
- Photo should usually be about one person in order to compare to the narcissistic nature of today's selfies. Despite our ancestors' lack of smart phone with large mirror in a bathroom, they still loved snapping shots of themselves. How did they manage? Usually a primitive photo booth, or portable camera. I will allow a couple or few people in the shot to qualify since our ancestors loved seeing how many friends they could cram into the photo booth.
- Photo should have at least a slight narcissistic feel to the image. Either a facial expression trying to be seductive, or a purely unabashed look that says "Yes, here I am, aren't I adorable!!" Could be achieved through general snapshot, photo booth or even studio scenario. Studio shots are only accepted if the photo screams narcissism...I will have an example below....I also think the old Glamour Shots fit into this category, but not quite ready to bring those out with the rest of the ancestor "gems".
- Photo should have a spontaneous feel to it. I know studio portraits are OK if they fit the narcissistic bill above, but non-studio pics should always have a sense of fun, play and zero planning. Sometimes these may try to capture an event the person has just participated in or a new place they have visited. Just think about the many ways we take out the phone to snap a moment. Anything that resembles our snapping habit should be able to fit the ancestral selfie definition.
- And as a special category - don't forget the elusive "drunk" selfie. While we see many of those today, those were not as prevalent in previous generations. Oh, they do exist, but nothing like the frequency of the current drunk trend.
For further reading, her is another take on "Vintage Selfies"....and below, some ancestral 'selfies' from my personal collection:
Great-Grandma Ruth.....ummmm....boudoir photo in her skivvies = seductive 'selfie'
Hey, Baby....I just killed a moose in the Klondike...How Ya like me now?!
What rhymes with 'Drunk'? Oh yeah...'Skunk'! (Very drunk, according to reports)
Taken at Coney Island in Cincinnati: Beyersdoerfer/Fliehmann Family
Just FYI: the top photo in this series is the same gentleman that holds the skunk above.
Apparently, he was a lifelong fan of 'selfies'.
Grandma Freida: The saintly, demur 'selfie'
Also Freida, with Grandpa Roy: One of my all-time favorites.
Could also be another "drunk" 'selfie', but knowing these two, I kinda doubt it.
Sure were having a lot of fun though....hmmmm
Got any 'selfies' to share? Btw, in my opinion, 'selfies' can also exist in paintings and the silhouette portraits of pre-photography days!