From The Vault Of Art Shay: The Year Of The Selfie

By Art Shay in News on Dec 26, 2013 3:45PM

(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week Art looks at our current fetish with ourselves.)

This has been The Year of the Selfie. In no time at all a new cliche was born that was hiding in plain sight since 1839—you hold your camera as far from your body as you can, aim it back at yourself and include one or two friends or relatives in the picture.

Never minding the tangle of arms and fingers screwing up the sides of your picture or minding them as little as that other photographic cliche involving new bride and groom-the entanglement of arms, one with a knife- to record (in a probably pornographic Freudian foreshadowing) the ungainly cutting of the virginal first piece of wedding cake. This marriage cliche has the degree of difficulty coefficient of an Olympic event and the applause attending it.

But the Selfie has just passed it. At a Christmas party the other afternoon I watched a handsome NBC correspondent, half of a gracious North Shore power couple, merrily fall into the Selfie mode with a friend of his. I made a hasty snapshot of the two guys- but missed the moment of truth. I'm sure their Selfie turned out better than my Snappie. But the event drove me to ask my archivist Erica to dig out some of my own Selfies. Not as old as those first Selfies made in the afterbirth days of the camera in the early 1800s but nearly.

Published with permission.

If you can't get enough of Art Shay's words and photos, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.