Why is the word selfie so distasteful to me? I am not a stranger to the self portrait; I have made them regularly since 1978. But what is the difference between a selfie and a self-portrait? The selfie is a quickie, in this quick world of ours. It is a snapshot in best superficial sense of the word, the selfie is an ad; a Facebook post, a few quick likes, it does not linger. The self-portrait is slow food. It simmers then surfaces in the strangest of ways. It reveals itself slowly and asks more questions than it answers. Bragging rights do not exist in self-portrait. More often, the self-portrait is embarrassing and can come with apologies and disclaimers. Self-portraits exist usually in editions of 1. Self-portraits are not big sellers, at least not while the photographer/artist is alive. (I can attest to this. I had a show of 40 self-portraits and sold one).
I have read that the world would be a better place, if everyone, from the worst possible lowest form of human kind to the best most incredible person, all got four hugs a day. Perhaps the selfie is an electronic hug. I admit that I do make selfies. I point and shoot the iphone and get a tiny little fix, a second of instant gratification. I like that electronic hug. I make a little connection; I get a little shock of recognition. It feels good. But then I get off the internet and it feels even better to work on an idea, make a self-portrait, print an image, a beautiful, rich print to put on the wall and contemplate. To ask some unanswered questions about myself. I hope that I am not too old school about the selfie vs. self-portrait controversy. I ask only that when people point and shoot and make a selfie, they try a little harder to make an image that is not superficial. We all have the need to create reproductions of ourselves and the iphone selfie makes it too easy. I think photography should not be taken so lightly; it should be difficult; the self-portraits we make especially should be difficult.
That said, here are two images made of me by me. Does one seem more “selfie” than the other?