Photography without compromises

Really, what IS a SELFIE ?


Blah Blah, selfie this, blah blah, selfie that. I cannot really bear hearing this word all the time!… but what is a selfie, actually?

The Oscars selfie by Ellen Degeneres, The Obama Selfie (do I really need to explain?) and then even Miley Cyrus did it. Eventually, for the guys Sara Tommasi also  happily complied to the trend by showing us her glorious boobs!

I don’t know what you’re thinking at this point, but I’m not gone crazy, and Rockfoto didn’t suddenly become a gossip outlet.

Here we talk photography, so I felt the urge to give you my very own explanation of what a selfie is (and what it’s NOT!).

A definition of selfie

Selfie is the english neologism to indicate the very common practice of the self portrait.

Ok, but since self portraits were common even in the early days of photography why do we bother now?

That’s a nice smoking question. So let me see if I can churn out a believable answer.

The never ending battle: Self portrait vs Selfie

At this point we realized self portrait has always been there for us, so what’s the difference between a self-portrait and a selfie?

Let’s dig a bit more under the surface of things, we’re going back to the birth of self-portrait itself!

I’m quoting Wikipedia here, what better could you expect from your semi-illiterate host?

self-portrait is a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist. Although self-portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid-15th century that artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work. With better and cheaper mirrors, and the advent of the panel portrait, many painters, sculptors and printmakers tried some form of self-portraiturePortrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck of 1433 may well be the earliest known panel self-portrait.[1]

Keep in mind that the daguerreotype (basically photography’s grandma) was born in 1839 approx. So we have spent the past 400 years getting conscious about the self-portait, before turning it into a real self-photograph.

Then from 1839 up to 2014, some more 175 years, to finally reach the concept of selfie, in all of its glory!

Was Andy Warhol right ?

Probably so, I believe there are many reasons for the wide popularity of the selfie in present times. But if I were to find a liet motif, I couldn’t help but find it in the (in)famous Andy Warhol quote:

In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.

So, let’s keep focused here for a little more, for a self-portrait to finally reach the Selfie level, we need the following ingredients:

  1. The right stance, or pose, the dumber the better, of our self-subject
  2. The gear, which is now totally commonplace, of a smartphone with a working internet connection
  3. A way of sharing, or propagate the shots, please choose your social network of choice between Facebook / Twitter or Instagram

It may have escaped your scrutiny that these ingredients aren’t required for a self portrait to happen, not in any way, for the community to consider it a piece of Art.

So that we can safely recognize that the difference between a selfie and a self portrait can be summed up in the following:

A self portrait is to Art what a selfie is to our desire of increasing our self esteem

Still not convinced?

Well, then I feel forced to shove down your throat some very convincing visual examples, shall we?

Please compare the following photographs and tell me, can you tell which one is the selfie and which one is the self portrait of the two?


This is not in any way a contest, you won’t really win anything, except my ever lasting appreciation.


So please voice your toughts in the comments below.

My dear readers, see you soon and let me wish you the best photographic light ever!



ATTENZIONE: Acquistando i prodotti che propongo all'interno dei miei articoli sul sito contribuirete a mantenere vivo questo blog, facendomi diventare ricco sfondato, giusto perché si sappia eh.