Photography is a relatively young invention compared to how long humans have been prowling the globe. It’s somewhat surprising that in that time, the ways and means we take photographs has changed almost to the point of it becoming a different medium.
Nowadays, if you want to take a photo, then it’s a simple matter of grabbing your smartphone. Okay, maybe you use a proper camera, but if it’s a spur-of-the-moment selfie you want to capture - well, no one has got to time to be messing around with the complex settings of a DSLR. So you grab your smartphone.
The process is then incredibly simple. You strike your pose, hope there’s enough natural light to be captured to prevent you looking vampiric, then you snap the image. You can then run your picture through a photo-correcting app, either to compensate for the lack of natural daylight or (let’s be honest) remove that unsightly pimple. You then have the option of using services like MyPostcard App to get a hard copy, or just uploading to every social media site and hoping for a plethora of likes.
It’s easy - and it’s massively different from how people used to take photos. In fact, it might be worth cherishing the process next time you do it. It used to be a lot, lot worse.
The Advent of Selfies: MySpace
While people have been taking photographs of themselves for a long time, the real harbinger of the age of selfies was with MySpace.
Remember MySpace? Depending on your age, you might not - but if you do… you’re cringing pretty hard at the memory right now, aren’t you?
That pristine way of taking a picture mentioned above was quite different in the age of MySpace photos. You know you’re a true late-90s-to-early-00s kid if you ever took a photo with any of the following criteria:
Set at a weird angle. Hey, it’s the new, happenin’ age of the internet! No one is going to take photos aligned correctly, right? That would be crazy. So you’d bend and contort yourself into a position that allowed you to offset your camera angle so you appeared diagonally across the frame. So modern.
Filtered to the point of being unrecognizable. We now use photo-editing to make ourselves look better; in the days of yore, it was to use bad filters for that perfect emo vibe. (By the by: if you think you didn’t go through an emo phase, you definitely did. It was a prerequisite.)
Took a photo in a mirror, with the camera obvious in the shot. This was the done thing for years, before the delights of the front-facing camera.
Off the top of your head, how many such photos do you think existed of you? We’re going to bet it’s a lot. The photos never looked good (because they were taken with substandard cameras mostly, but your skills probably didn’t help) but we took a bazillion of them anyway.
Still, could be worse. There are many theories as to why Victorian photographs look the way they do, but there’s no doubt the end result was less than flattering - no smile, no movement, bad lighting. It was rough being an 1890s kid.
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