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Screengrab: . Via WIRED.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Selfies recently. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about what useful things I might have to say.

I wrote an extended comment to Marvin Heiferman’s blog post about Selfies. It’s as certain as I can be right now about a form of portraiture that is changing faster than my thinking.

“I cannot accept that Selfies should be dismissed out of hand as a lazy mode of photographic production, as to do so would be a refusal to engage with the way hundreds of millions (of predominantly young) people choose to image the world and their place in it. The Selfie form doesn’t make sense to an adult world as the dominant imperatives of social responsibility and/or artistic merit tied to past discourse about photographic production seem absent. But why should kids step sideways to meet old priorities of the medium when adults could as easily step sideways to meet them where they are?”

I cover a lot more in the (long) comment including: the Selfie as empowerment; the gender disparities in how we judgement and consume Selfies; the best written analysis on Selfies; and why artistic responses to the Selfie might be the most valuable departure points for discussion on the form.

Check out Marvin’s post and have your say about Selfies.

erik kessels

Installation shot of Erik Kessels’ 24 Hours Of Photo, at FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam, December 2011.

For the next few weeks, I am co-blogging Marvin Heiferman‘s posts at the Fotomuseum Winterthur’s Still Searching blog. I anticipate many of the ideas will overlap from previous conversations at Wired and Photoville between Marvin and I.

Marvin’s method is to pose more questions than answers — to stimulate conversation:

‘What is new now is that, as a result of advances in digital technology, options for the making, mining, and sharing images are increasing exponentially.  As a result, what photography is, what photographs are, and what “the photographic” means have to be continually and, at times, dramatically rethought.’

So far, I’ve responded to posts on the technologies that allow the manufacture of 1.3 billion images per day, with concern not about production or consumption but concern over storage.

I responded to a curious video of students posing for the camera, with the suggestion that people are taking calculated decisions in their poses in the full knowledge that images move far and wide across our digital landscapes.

In both cases, my link-replete comments have run on a bit. I’d like to say that I’ll be a bit more concise in future responses but then Marvin only went and decided to take on the Selfie in his most recent post.

Please check out Marvin’s posts between now and mid-December and hold our feet to the fire over these ideas of which we are trying to make sense.


Still Searching, which was launched in January 2012, is a smart, designed and long-term blogging project for the photo community. It is structured through the contributions of six “bloggers in residence” per year, each writing for six weeks. During which the blogger writes five to six statements on a specific theory or aspect of photography — or on anything else he or she is working on or thinking about — in photographic production, photography as art, as a communication and information tool in the context of social media or photojournalism, and as a form of scientific or legal evidence, techniques, applications, distribution strategies, contexts, theoretical foundations, ontology and perspectives on the medium.


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