Ah, the selfie. Who could imagine a world without a front facing camera and filters that make you look like a canine? Well, believe it or not, but the concept of the selfie was still alive and well even before modern-day technology. What exactly did people do before smartphones and Snapchat? Keep scrolling, we’ve outlined the evolution of the selfie below.
THE BUST & STATUE
Back in Ancient History around 400 BC, Mediterranean civilizations like the Romans, Egyptians and Greeks began to practice the concept of portraiture, a public form of art. Priests, royalty and other high-profile individuals would have sculptures made in their likeness as a way to preserve their legacy.
Before selfie sticks, there was the selfie slave and his name was “The Painter.” Royals would sit still for hours as their hired painter painstakingly re-captured their faces in art-form. Painters were also know for creating their own self-portraits, the act of painting a representation of themselves on canvas. Though self-portraits can be traced back to earlier times, the act became a phenomenon around the mid-15 century.
THE FIRST CAMERA SELFIE
With the introduction of photography, came the very first documented selfie in 1839. Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast set up a camera in the back of his family’s shop, removed the camera’s lens cap, ran into the frame and waited for the picture to take. On the back of the photograph, Cornelius wrote, “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.”
THE KODAK MIRROR SELFIE
George Eastman’s manufacturing of film in 1885 kicked off the beginning of the photography that we all know and love today. Eastman’s first camera, the “Kodak,” was a simple box-camera with a fixed-focus lens that introduced the concept of the snapshot. Owners of a Kodak camera weren’t shy about testing out new angles–check out this mirror selfie from 1900!
THE PHOTOBOOTH SELFIE
The modern concept of the photo booth first appeared in 1925 on Broadway in New York City. For roughly 25 cents, people lined up to experience the booth take, develop, and print eight photographs in roughly 10 minutes. Check out this photo booth selfie from the ’50s!
THE POLAROID/DISPOSABLE CAMERA ARM-LENGTH SELFIE
Whether it was with a Polaroid, disposable camera, or a Razr flip-phone, the arm-length selfie was a long-standing cultural staple. The stretch and blind, point-and-shoot technique was one that only skilled selfie-takers mastered.
OUTER SPACE SELFIE
The first outer space selfie was taken in 1966 by Buzz Aldrin during the Gemini 12 mission. Aldrin used the EVA equipment that astronauts use during their spacewalks.
THE GAMEBOY SELFIE
Even ’80s and ’90s kids cared about their appearance.
THE WEBCAM SELFIE
We all needed a profile picture for MSN, right?
THE EARLY 2000s MIRROR SELFIE
Sure, the early 2000s didn’t invent the mirror selfie, but there’s no denying that it was a thing. Keeping the flash on was a stylistic technique and tilting your head dramatically to the side was a guarantee you’d get the attention of your Myspace crush. #FlashOnFleekNeckGameSlayin
THE FRONT-CAMERA SELFIE
Though different cellphone companies introduced the front-facing camera back in 2003, it was Apple’s release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 that set the front camera selfie trend off.
THE SELFIE STICK SELFIE
Though evidence of homemade selfie sticks date as far back as 1925, the term “selfie stick” didn’t become popularized until 2014. Instead of straining your arm to take the perfect selfie, you can now pull out your trusty monopod and take an Ellen Oscar selfie with all of your friends.
THE SNAPCHAT FILTER SELFIE
Snapchat’s introduction of filters in 2015 made us into virtually anything. Now, in 40 years when we’re showing our grandchildren what we looked like pre-wrinkles, our faces will be decked out in dog muzzles and flower crowns.
THE DRONE SELFIE
We don’t all own drones just yet, but give it time, soon enough our arms won’t be doing any of the selfie work. In a couple years, we’ll be wheeling around on our hover board with our pet drone named Van Gogh.