As with any good retrospective, it’s often therapeutic to cleanse oneself of the forgettable and embarrassing episodes from the previous year while embracing and carrying forward all that was good and true and hopeful. And while that’s true personally, the same can also be said of our society and culture in general. For example, in 2013 we can and should easily forget the painful and unnecessary government shutdown, the Sydney Leathers and Carlos Danger saga, twerking, the Harlem Shake dance craze, and Justin Beiber’s monkey, among many others. We can only hope these are mere one-hit wonders and not prone to unwelcome resurrections in the near future.
One fad that gained traction in 2013 and shows little sign of going away is the selfie. Unlike the refuse listed above, however, this one hits a little closer to home. Forget the inherent shallow narcissism involved, a selfie is still a form of photographic expression after all.
Selfie was named “Word of the Year” by the Oxford Dictionary which then goes on to define the word as (n.) a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. Yes, that’s the same Oxford as in the great university of England, not the town in Mississippi.
So you might be wondering, what’s the harm? Why, as a photographer, am I so down on the selflie? Well for one, if you have to take your own portrait, it could mean that you don’t have any friends to do it for you. So it could be that the selfie is actually a symptom of a larger personal problem. Then there’s the frequency issue. If you are taking and posting more than one per week, it could also be a manifestation of yet another issue that needs addressing. It should go without saying that selfies in your birthday suit broadcast to complete strangers on the Internet is, at a minimum, in poor taste. More for some than others.
Aside from those objections, I guess it’s harmless enough – maybe even a little fun. So here’s my selfie for 2013, just to show that I’m not entirely hostile to the idea. Just don’t expect an encore for at least another 12 months. Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-105mm f/4 @ 28mm, 1/30 second @ f14, ISO 100.
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