the selfie vs self portrait debate

Two different modes. Taking a Selfie vs the Self Portrait.

One is a brand new activity, newer than Amazon and Facebook and Google. 

Typical Selfie Pose

The other's been around since the time of the cave man's artful drawings on the wall so his rocky home.

Selfies have become ubiquitous in our society.  

Whether you personally participate or not, your inclusion likely won't affect the popularity of shooting selfies by the rest of our society.  

Definition of Selfie is included in Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The definition of selfie is now included in both the Oxford and Merrium-Webster dictionaries.

I was reluctant to indulge in photographing myself at first, but now I jumped on board the selfie bandwagon.

I even purchased my first selfie stick to give myself a few more creative possibilites to make them more artistic.

what's the difference between a selfie and a self portrait

I've researched the topic extensively.  To be strictly labeled a selfie a photo must be taken while you are holding the camera/cell phone camera in your hand or with a selfie monopod.

If more than one person is in the photo, the camera must be held by one of the subjects in the photo and it is called a group selfie.  When someone jumps into or is included unintentionally in the selfie, it is called photo bombing. 

Self portraits, on the other hand are usually created without camera in hand, often by using a tripod or nearby table.  The self portrait is always a photo of you, just you by yourself.

It often involves more time and more meticulous posing, sometimes exploring inner emotions, and usually less frequent sharing of most of the photos you take.

what you gain from taking a self portrait

You get practice in the craft of creating artistic self portraits by observing and controlling light, using the right background and applying good compositional technique.

Deliberate practice, consciously designing a photographic image takes more thought and knowledge of lighting, controlling perspective, and producing an impactful, emotional image.

what you get from taking a selfie

Instant gratification, spur of the moment fun, social network sharing with the push of a button, building of relationships with others through posting one's experiences throughout our daily lives.

Taking selfies can actually enhance an experience by placing yourself within an activity or included in a certain environment, rather than photographing just the event or location without you included within it.

final comments on the selfie vs self portrait debate

The distinct gap between the selfie vs self portrait styles of photography has narrowed dramatically and many photographers, myself included, might argue that there is a complete continuous spectrum of self photography between these two strict definitions.

After all, with the improved hardware and software improvements in cell phone cameras and webcams, who is to say we can't plan out an artistic self portrait of ourselves and take it while holding onto our mobile phone camera.

Likewise. we can put thought, effort into planning and good lighting and posing technique into taking a photo while holding onto our DSLR cameras and by definition it is indeed a selfie.

Self portrait with dog and ball - using the rule of thirds

I am occasionally guilty of the  selfie, posing with one of my favorite malted beverages and sharing with old college friends or posting a photo of myself at an event on Facebook. 

I've also recently challenged myself to participate in creating visually interesting self portraits, trying to grow as a photographer, sometimes using the hand held cell phone camera and at other times using my advanced point and shoot camera or one of my DSLR cameras.

If you enjoyed this article on the thoughts behind a selfie vs self portrait debate, please share it with someone.

Have a blast!


Return to Digital Photography Tips main page