Selfies may feel like a modern trend, but people have been creating self portraits since the Dawn of Time. the selfie's prevalence in modern society is due to the fact that they are now easy and free to create.
A cave painting believed to be the earliest known portrait, from Angoulême, France, c 25000BC. Photograph: AP
During the Early Renaissance in the mid-15th century, artists can be frequently identified depicting themselves as either the main subject, or as important characters in their work. With better and cheaper mirrors, many painters, sculptors and printmakers tried some form of self-portraiture. Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck, 1433, may well be the earliest known panel self-portrait.
Over time, many famous artists have created self portraits.
Below The Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk (circa 1510) is widely accepted as a self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci.
Francisco de Goya, Autorretrato en el taller (Self-portrait in the Studio), 1790–95,
Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait as a Painter, 1887,
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1940
With the invention of photography, it did not take people long to start taking "selfies". In 1839 amateur chemist and photography enthusiast, Robert Cornelius, set his camera up at the back of the family store in Philadelphia. He took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.”
With the invention roll film, more people began taking selfies. The early 20th centruy gave birth to the self timer. If you did not have a self timer, then you had to get creative.
(Left) Early Self timers, Patented 1918. (Right) A couple getting creative with a "selfie stick" 1934
Some famous and important people have taken selfies over the years. Can you Guess who these people are?
Answers: Norman Jean Baker, AKA Marilyn Monroe circa 1940.
Paul McCarthy circa 1963
Stanly Kubrick circa 1940s
Collin Powell circa 1956
People have taken selfies in some extreme places.
Buzz Aldrin, first ever space selfie, during an EVA on the Gemini 12 mission, 1966
Royal Danish Air Force, F16 pilot who is snapping a selfie just as a live AIM-9 missile takes off.
With the advent of digital photography and smart phones, more and more people are taking selfies. Smart phones have made taking selfies easy and cheap. In the age of social media, people can take selfies anywhere and share them instantly.
The term "selfie" was first used on Flickr in 2004, but took almost a decade to become popular.
A word of caution, some people have gotten themselves into a lot of trouble over selfies. Take former Congressmen Anthony Weiner as an example, or this girl. What where they thinking?
In 2016, 127 people died while trying to take selfies, including one man who tried to take a selfie with a walrus. Remember, no photo is worth losing your life.