From Rembrandt To The Selfiestick, Here’s How The Selfie Evolved.87 views
The world’s first ‘selfie’ is impossible to point out, considering it could have been created back when the Egyptians were still alive. From artists using mirrors to the invention of the selfie stick, here is how people have been capturing their own image through the ages.
Before photography was invented, Rembrandt was already a master of ‘selfies’. The artist painted nearly a hundred self-portraits, creating a visual diary that spans forty years of his life. He was followed by the likes of Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, each of them leaving behind a legacy of self-portraiture. In the 15th century, the first mirrors used were convex, introducing deformations that the artist sometimes preserved.
Amateur chemist and photography enthusiast Robert Cornelius is said to have taken the world’s first photographic ‘selfie’ in 1839. Having set up his camera at the back of his family store in Philadelphia, he took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into the frame, where he sat for a minute, before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote “The first light Picture ever taken.”
The Shutter-Release Cable
Frances Benjamin Johnston (1896)
The early cameras were often attached to a shutter-release cable, an attachment that screws into a shutter release, allowing you to trip the shutter mechanically to operate the camera from a distance. Many early group photographs and studio shots were set up with this simple and effective means of taking a ‘selfie’.
Older mechanical self-timers, such as those on old Leica cameras, would use a resistance coil, where the user would pre-wind the coil to load it with tension, which would then unwind, tripping the shutter release. This resulted in a lot of interesting portraits where the photographer would be in the act of reaching his desired position, but not quite there.
The Digital Age
Compact cameras finally enabled people to take quick self-portraits with the option of deleting a photo if it proved to be unflattering. Modern electronic cameras use digital timers which have a countdown, and then trip the shutter, thereby enabling a selfie from a distance.
Mobile Phones With Front Cameras
Perhaps the most commonly used ‘selfie’-taker, the front camera allows people to document and share their lives on-the-go while striking the ‘perfect’ pose. New-age phone cameras even come equipped with face-slimming, blotch-removing and eye-enlarging features for that ‘perfect’ look.
(Simply known as a Monopod)
From adventure seekers perched on steep cliffs to teenagers at a concert, selfie sticks are the answer to the call for flattering angles in self-portraits. Listed in Time magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2014, selfie sticks have even been banned from a couple of museums and theme parks for being a “safety hazard”.
Sources: Wikipedia; various magazines