A selfie is a self-portrait photograph featuring the photographer, typically taken with either a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror, rather than by using a self-timer.
Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a photo of himself in 1839 which is also one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back “The first light Picture ever taken.”
The debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera in 1900 led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box. Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna at the age of 13 was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote, “I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.”
The earliest usage of the word selfie can be traced as far back as 2002. It first appeared in Karl Kruszelnicki’s ‘Dr. Karl Self-Serve Science Forum’, an Australian internet forum (ABC Online) on 13 September.
The concept of uploading group self-taken photographs to the internet, although with a disposable camera and not a smartphone, dates to a webpage created by Australians in September 2001, including photos taken in the late 1990s.
The term “selfie” was discussed by photographer Jim Krause in 2005, although photos in the selfie genre predate the widespread use of the term. In the early 2000s, before Facebook became the dominant online social network, self-taken photographs were particularly common on MySpace. However, writer Kate Losse recounts that between 2006 and 2009 (when Facebook became more popular than MySpace), the “MySpace pic” became an indication of bad taste for users of the newer Facebook social network. Early Facebook portraits, in contrast, were usually well-focused and more formal, taken by others from distance. In 2009 in the image hosting and video hosting website Flickr, Flickr users used ‘selfies’ to describe seemingly endless self-portraits posted by teenage girls.
Initially popular with young people, selfies gained wider popularity over time. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered “selfie” one of the “top 10 buzzwords” of that year; although selfies had existed long before, it was in 2012 that the term “really hit the big time”. According to a 2013 survey, two-thirds of Australian women age 18–35 take selfies—the most common purpose for which is posting on Facebook. A poll commissioned by smartphone and camera maker Samsung found that selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by people aged 18–24. By 2013, the word “selfie” had become commonplace enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. In November 2013, the word “selfie” was announced as being the “word of the year” by the Oxford English Dictionary, which gave the word itself an Australian origin.
Selfies have also been taken beyond Earth. Selfies taken in space include those by astronauts, an image by NASA’s Curiosity rover of itself on Mars, and images created by an indirect method, where a self-portrait photograph taken on Earth is displayed on a screen on a satellite, and captured by a camera.
Selfies in Chinese: 自拍 （Zì Pāi）
Selfies are the rage in Shanghai too.
Most Wechat Moments are filled with them.
We love them too!
Miracle Mandarin Summer Selfie Contest:
This summer, Miracle Mandarin is holding a Summer Selfie Contest, join us and the amazing prizes are waiting for you!
1. Pick up a MM T-Shirt at the reception (only available for MM student)
2. Wherever you are this summer, take a selfie wearing the MM T-Shirt
3. Post it on Instagram, tag #miraclemandarin
4. Or share on your WeChat Moments, mention “Miracle Mandarin” and send us a screenshot
5. Top 5 photos will win amazing prizes
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