Art has narrated the story of mankind for centuries, and during that time countless artists have produced self-portraits that served as a testament to their life's work. Things have changed considerably since the turn of the 21st because in our day an age anyone can produce a self-portrait, even if they know next to nothing about the fine art of photography.
In the old days, painters and photographers often included items they used in their profession, on their self-portraits, in order to leave hints about their identity. Painter's palettes, brushes, or pulsating street life, that is often seen on the introspective self-portraits Vivian Maier has left behind, have been replaced by Snapchat filters or duck faces.
The selfie phenomenon is relatively young because it has been only fifteen years since the first phone with a rear camera was launched, and yet it seems that in such short notice everyone has forgotten about the skill and incredible amount of planning that used to be associated with producing a self-portrait in the photographic medium.
A selfie reflects a single moment in which a person or a group of people find themselves in, but the scenography is often much less important than the visual appearance of the selfie taker. Likes and comments on social media are way much more important than the actual aesthetic value of the photograph in question, which only suggests that we as a civilization are in constant need of reassurance that we look good, even though we may not feel as good.
Could it be that our egos are so deflated that we need a thumbs up from our virtual friends in order to feel confident about ourselves or perhaps we are all so self-centered that portraying our own self as beautiful, successful and happy is more important than actually producing images that depict us as we are?
The superficiality of the selfie culture has in itself become a statement that reflects the current way of thinking the majority of people on our planet has embraced. As long as the picture is fun or amusing we can use it as an ego-boosting vehicle that gives us temporary happiness. Self-portraits in our day and age, rarely reflect more complex human emotions, like sadness, alienation, hope or jubilation.
In the last couple of decades, photography has become more accessible to common people, than ever before, but ironically the number of photographers that actually have something to say through their pictures has remained the same. The new breed of wedding, fashion and product photographers has emerged and their only goal is to meet the aesthetic demands of the market.
The great László Moholy-Nagy once said that: 'The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do.' The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.' It seems as if the photographers in the second decade of the 21st century have chosen to follow the rules generated by the culture of selfies, in which photography is nothing more than a quick and convenient way to feed our egos.