How I Researched and Wrote My (8989 word*) Dissertation

*actual, real words that I wrote that were original and mine, that is to say, that figure does not include any quotes I have used or any picture labels, or any words that were said by someone else…

I was prompted to write this post as I have had an influx of people asking me about how to conduct research and write a dissertation, probably because it is that time of year again for many students who are studying degree’s.  Firstly, do not panic, DO NOT PANIC, and don’t drink too much coffee or energy drink, while it may give you a pleasant buzz, it is distracting as you can’t concentrate on one thing for longer that a minute. I learned that the hard way and spent the first 2 weeks (if not more) in a caffeine haze darting from one thing to the other, not able to sit still, staring at a blank screen and starting to wonder if dropping out from my degree would be the best option…

Anyway, enough of that, that’s not what you are here to read about.  Onto the actual research and writing…

First things first, decide on a topic, it doesn’t matter what it is so long as it is relevant to you, your course and is interesting enough to spend many hours contemplating, reading about, talking about and hold your attention for long enough for you to be able to write those gazillion words about.  You will be a living, breathing object, feeding off the subject you choose for the next few months and you need to not get sick of the subject before you have even finished your introduction chapter.

Next thing on the list, and this is before you start doing anything else, go out to your local stationers and buy one of those A4 Project Books, preferably one with removable plastic tab dividers, I bought one by Pucca Pads, it has little pockets on the divider which are good for stashing extra notes that may have been scribbled at odd times and need to be inserted into your notes at a further point in time.  Also, while you are at it, buy some smaller notebooks (A5 or smaller, whatever takes your fancy) and keep one beside you at all times, you never know when inspiration will hit, my top spots for genius thoughts were the shower, in bed (waking up at odd times to crazy ideas) and in traffic, you never know when these ideas will hit so it is best to be prepared.

Now to begin…I will break this down into sections to make it easier to see my own steps.

Information Gathering (AKA Stage 1)

I approached my dissertation subject (The Selfie) by reading as much as I could about the phenomena, photocopying and printing any articles I could find on the subject and then reading them through, highlighting any interesting facts, figures, quotes and dates.  Then I read some more, I scoured the internet for blog posts on the subject and printed those out, marking the documents for future reference.  It sounds really cheesy, and it is, but one of my lecturers said to “become a dry sponge, soaking up the moisture that is the information about your subject”.  I’m sure I can not emphasise enough the importance of reading, reading, reading.  I even bought textbooks because there were paragraphs relevant to my subject matter that I needed and read the whole book to see if there were further arguments to help back up my findings.  At this stage in my research I didn’t make many notes* as this was the “Pre Forming” stage of my dissertation, the stage where you are creating ideas and thinking about the subject and what you would like to cover.   *the notes I did make were one liners, scribbled in margins and onto post it notes attached to print outs, over the relevant paragraph, as a reminder to re-read or highlight a point of interest to research further.

The Structure Stage (AKA Stage 2)

The structure stage is really about how you structure your dissertation.  It may differ from university to university but ours was structured with a synopsis which came before everything else and acted as an outline for the path our research and writing would take (I shall upload mine here soon for you to read!), it is a bit like the overview, the bit on the back of a book that gives you just enough information to get the idea of the body of text.  It is separate to the actual dissertation though it is connected to it.  My dissertation, the full and final thing was set out into the basic categories of Contents, Introduction, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Conclusion, References and Bibliography, but there are further sections that might need to be added.  Our minimum, “original words” (not including quotes) was 8000 so I split this down for each section, the intro needs to be brief so I put aside 1000 words for that, and also 1000 for the conclusion, that gave 6000 words to be split over 3 chapters, so 2000 words each sounded a lot more manageable to me to be able to write.

Writing Your Synopsis (AKA Stage 3)

Now you have read some research material and have a vague idea of the subject matter you want to cover and also the kind of structure your dissertation will take, it is time to write your synopsis.  This piece of writing needs to be brief and to the point, covering the kinds of topic your dissertation will cover, from the introduction to the final chapter, all main topics of discussion should be outlined.  This synopsis should give a snapshot of information, act as a guide for you when writing your dissertation and also help others to understand what subject matter you will be covering.

The Note Organising Stage (AKA Stage 4)

This is the point where your project book will come in super handy and you will be thankful for buying such a useful piece of stationery!  Firstly I suggest labelling the tabs with the main parts of your dissertation, Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Conclusion, Bibliography and References.    Once I had done this, I outlined on the first piece of paper behind each tab the kind of topics that I wanted to write about in these chapters.  For example my sections were divided out and covered the following

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – The History of the Selfie – this focussed on the history of the self-portrait and photography.
  • Chapter 2 – Self Portraits and the Modern Day – in this chapter I looked at the selfie and who it came to be what it is today.
  • Chapter 3 – The Future of the Selfie – and this chapter looked at types of selfie, new technologies and where it could all go from here.
  • Conclusion

Once you have an idea of the topics that you will cover in your chapters you can then go back to your research material and add information into the relevant sections of your project book.  You can then add in any notes that you may want to include in the finished piece.  Use the Bibliography and reference section to record where all your information has come from as a useful reference tool and also record the source in notes that you make and on to any photocopies and print outs.  I found it really frustrating to have a really good quote that could be used to back up any theories and thoughts but not have a source where it came from.  Keeping a record of all information sources will help you when finishing your dissertation and having to reference each quote that you have used, and it will also help with building your bibliography and references as much of the information used will then only have to be typed out and correctly referenced as per your university guidelines.

The Typing Stage (AKA Stage 5)

Once I had all my work mapped out, and ideas on what I wanted to write in which section I was then able to start writing the Introduction and the chapters.  I wrote mine using Microsoft Word and had each section of my dissertation saved separately as different documents in the same folder on my pc.  This meant I could work on whichever section I wanted to without having to work from start to finish, introduction to conclusion, my mind flits about and processes information in such a way that I could be writing about the history of photography but come up with a really good paragraph on the definition of the modern-day selfie that could be fitted in somewhere in my second chapter.  This approach also made me more productive, when I had a mind blank on one section, rather than sitting in front of the screen and getting worked up about the disappearing hours I could go off and work on another part of my dissertation.  It made it easier to maintain the References and Bibliography sections of my dissertation too as I kept those documents open on my computer when writing and just transferred the data sources over into these sections as I used them in the main body of my writing.   The other thing that I found really good about this approach to different word docs for each section is that I didn’t worry so much about loosing work as each section was saved separately and just for piece of mind I also, each night copied the file onto a disc so I always had a back up copy if ever anything were to happen.

Proof Reading, Spelling and Grammar Check (AKA Stage 6)

If you have gotten to this stage then congratulations!!!  You are nearly finished!!!  Once you are at this stage you can now copy all the sections of your dissertation into one document before you move on to proof reading the final thing, though I must say, proof reading should occur whenever you return to a chapter or section to add more to it just so you know where you are and that your words flow well from one paragraph to the next.  It will also help you keep your style of writing in check too.  But the final proof read is probably the most important and should probably be done by someone other than yourself as you may miss something, whether it is a sentence that doesn’t make sense to a word missing from a paragraph, as you will be so used to looking at it that you won’t notice it yourself.  It’s also really important to get the proof reader to mark any spelling and grammar mistakes that may not have been picked up by the checkers that come with the word processing programme.  Words can be spelled correctly but may not necessarily be the correct ones to use in the context you want.  Once this is all done and completed and you are happy with everything, check all the quotes you have used are correctly referenced and images are labelled.  Check, check and then check again!  once you are 100% happy with the finished piece, you are good to send it to print!

Other Notes on Writing and Research

I have a few other comments that I would like to share about dissertation research and writing that don’t really fit in anywhere but may be useful..

I hated having to remember how to correctly reference my sources, my university required all quotes to be referenced in the “Harvard” style.  I used google to find a reference generator tool and copied and pasted the references from there.  You could probably find one too, depending on what style of referencing your university requires.  The Harvard one that I used can be found here in case you are interested!

I have never read my dissertation in full, I have read bits of it here and there, before adding information into the chapters and continuing with paragraphs after a short break.  My friend has, and she says it’s good so I’m just going to take her word for it.

There were times I was bored out of my skull, and times where I spent most of the day staring out of the window wishing I was somewhere else, and that was ok, its part and parcel of writing and the creative process.

It’s ok to not understand or remember what you have written, before writing this post I had all but forgotten my chapter headings, let alone how I began my introduction!  How I managed to write as many words as I did and create something so wordy but that flows and makes sense amazes me even now!

Just remember, this is how I worked writing my dissertation, you can follow it if you like, or not at all, I just hope this will be helpful and provide a guide to any of you struggling to make a start!  🙂


The Self Portrait  and the Selfie. – My Full Dissertation Paper

“Styles and trends blow like the wind, come and go.

But precision of vision is here to stay – Michael Foley”



  • Introduction 
  • Chapter 1 – The History of the Self Portrait
  • Chapter 2 – Self Portraits in the Modern Day
  • Chapter 3 – The Future of the Selfie
  • Conclusion 
  • References
  • Bibliography



With 50,873,356* photos currently uploaded to Instagram with the hash tag (#) Selfie, it seems that more and more people are taking this type of image and are growing more comfortable with uploading them to the internet for the scrutiny of others.  (Figures provided by , as of *17/10/13)  It seems that anyone and everyone is taking and posting selfies online, from celebrities such as Rihanna and Barak Obama  (see below) to friends, family and work colleagues, you don’t have to look very far to find one of these #selfie images either on the internet or in the media, such as in newspapers or magazines.  It is not so unusual though, to take images of one’s self, from the invention of photography, we have become more and more acclimatised with looking at and creating images of the self.  So, what is a selfie?

barak obama selfie

Barak Obama takes a selfie with David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial service.  (Image taken from newspaper report Year of the Selfie: The birth – and death – of 2013’s biggest star trend, The Independent (–and-death–of-the-years-biggest-star-trend-9024534.html)

The word “selfie” has just been added to the Oxford English Dictionary (added in August 2013, ) and has been defined in the dictionary as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Selfies, in the terms of an image are a kind of self portrait image where the subject of the image also becomes the image maker/photographer.  The evolution of social networking has been a major player in the phenomenon that is the selfie, where to be part of social networking and have your own profile there is a need to add a photograph of yourself, and who better to take that image than yourself?  The saturation of the market with mobile phones that have cameras (now fitted as standard to most new phones) means we have a method available to take and create that image pretty much anywhere we want; and; with the development of internet being available and accessible from our mobile phones, the ease of uploading that image has become as easy as the press of a button.

There are generally two kinds of selfie, the one taken in a mirror (typically the bathroom or bedroom mirror), flash on or off depends on whether the subject wants to conceal part of themselves or not, and more recently the type of selfie we are becoming more used to seeing, the image where the subject has their camera at arm’s length, the lens pointing down onto the subject, the camera held slightly higher than eye level so that the subject is gazing up at the lens.

The type of camera typically used for taking selfies is that from a mobile phone.  In early selfies the mirror was used as the subject of the photograph as many phones had just one camera lens which was fixed on the opposite side to the screen.  In order to be able to view the image and compose it as was wanted the photographer/subject would capture their reflection in the mirror, using the screen on the other side to view how the image looked prior to the image being taken.  This technique gave the creator greater control over the composition and final look if the image than trying to create an image where the screen was not visible.  The invention of smart phones with a front facing camera changed how selfies were made, and we began to see the selfie change in its aesthetics and characteristics.  Elizabeth Day shares this viewpoint and wrote on 26th July 2013, in The Mail And Guardian, the article “How Selfies Became a Global Phenomenon “ – “it was the introduction of smartphones — most crucially the iPhone 4, which came along in 2010 with a user-facing camera — that made the selfie go viral” (  Having a front facing camera on a phone gave even greater control over how the selfie was taken, made it easier for people to get the composition right and meant that the selfie didn’t rely on mirrors so could then be taken anywhere without any hesitation or fumbling around taking “blind” images where you couldn’t see what was being captured at the time.

In this paper I am proposing to understand selfies, from the reasons we create selfies, to what makes a good selfie, the different photographic styles of selfies, the cultures and subcultures of the selfie, and to also examine the technological progress that has led us to where we are now in the terms of #selfie.  I will be looking at the role that the internet, and social networking, Facebook in particular, has played in the lifespan of the selfie and how the photo sharing app, Instagram, and its exclusive availability on Apple devices has aided in this phenomenon.  In Chapter 1 I shall begin by looking at the history of the selfie, which I believe is in auto-portraits – from the first photo booth images whose history can be traced back to its invention in 1888, to other methods of capturing a likeness of the “self” through photographic means.  I will trace the path from those believed origins to the present day, addressing how the selfie has become a more and more popular method of image making.

Chapter 2 will look at the present day selfie, the technology that has driven a culture of selfie makers and the applications that have made the image so popular.

Chapter 3 looks at the future of the selfie, from how selfies may change to other factors involved in the selfie culture such as inventions of the future and trends that may stem from today.



The History of the Self Portrait 

Since time began, man has been fascinated with his own image, from looking at reflections of himself to creating drawings of himself on cave walls.  Artists have used themselves as the subject for paintings, creating self portraits by taking sketches of their image that was reflected in the mirror.  The trend for painted self portraits started early on in history although there was a marked increase in the Renaissance period around the 15th Century of self portraits, and portraits in general,  being made.  These portraits and self portraits lead to a feeling of grandeur in the places they were hung as they were so expensive to procure as to have created, they were often a way of showing off how wealthy you and your family were, which in today’s terms is the equivalent of buying an expensive car or jetting off on an exotic holiday abroad.  The reasons for painted self portraits differs from the reasons behind today’s “selfies”, in that painters would use themselves as subjects because it was cheaper than hiring a model and was readily available, whether day or night, whenever the mood to paint would happen upon the painter, it is also a familiar subject and could be seen as being easier to work with as a subject matter.  However, although paintings made of one’s self are indeed self portraits, they are only an artistic impression of the self, and are open to much interpretation, or artistic licence, as the artist can change aspects of the image, for instance change the colour of the eye, make a nose smaller or lips bigger, make someone seem larger than they are or smaller (depending on their social standing and importance).  The self portrait is only an interpretation of what the artist sees and therefore, cannot be seen as a true representation of the self due to these factors.

The invention of photography has only added to this fascination with the “self” and has made it easier to capture the image of the self, in a quicker, more prompt fashion, and in a much more accurate way.   Photography, due to its very nature, creates a truer representation, albeit a fleeting moment in time, of whatever the image taker decides to cast his lens upon.

The invention of photography around 1790 happened with Thomas Wedgewood creating a way of making permanent images using chemicals and light started a new technological drive and a move to creating lifelike images in an easier fashion than painting and drawing.

“Wedgwood is the first person reliably documented to have used light-sensitive chemicals to capture silhouette images on durable media such as paper, and the first known to have attempted to photograph the image formed in a camera obscura.” (Thomas Wedgwood (photographer) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2014. Thomas Wedgwood (photographer) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 September 2013].

After this break-through in actual image print creation came another way to create images, one that built on the ideas and concepts discovered by Wedgewood, which was complex, lengthily and expensive, the images created directly onto a metal plate or mirrored metallic surface, called daguerreotypes.

“According to writer Robert Leggat,”Louis Daguerre made an important discovery by accident. In 1835, he put an exposed plate in his chemical cupboard, and some days later found, to his surprise, that the latent image had developed. Daguerre eventually concluded that this was due to the presence of mercury vapour from a broken thermometer. This important discovery that a latent image could be developed made it possible to reduce the exposure time from some eight hours to thirty minutes.

Louis Daguerre introduced the daguerreotype process to the public on August 19, 1839 at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris.”  (Daguerreotype – A Form of Photography Invented By Louis Daguerre. 2014.Daguerreotype – A Form of Photography Invented By Louis Daguerre. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 7th February 2014]. )

The way in which these images were made involved the subject sitting or standing for a long period of time in order to record an accurate image.  The image that was captured was recorded was a one off print, not able to be reproduced as the plate the image was captured onto was also the negative.  The other problem with this type of image was that it was highly delicate and prone to damage.  In order to preserve the image it would need to be encased in glass, like how images are framed these days.  The glass would add the protective layer to the image so that damage was limited.  The encasing of the image provided the means for the image to be displayed, often the encasing was highly decorative as well as being functional, turning the image not just into a representation of what had been shot but into an object to hold, display and cherish, the frames often including a velvet protector for the glass adding to the opulence of the object.  Some were designed to be carried around in pockets and others with display functions in mind.  The actual daguerreotype image process was used to capture buildings and landscapes, static images being the easiest to capture due to the long exposure times required, but also people, both dead and alive, the live ones needing to be strapped into body and head braces to reduce movement and create sharper images.  Images of the dead were produced as a memento of that person and provided some comfort to the persons left behind.

“Death portraits could capture something of this state; in a sense, the death portrait was more accurate, in reflecting the essence of a subject, than a portrait of the living. The moment of death was also seen increasingly, in the nineteenth century, as one of joy and comfort, as a release from the difficulties of this world into God’s hands. A realistic daguerreotype taken just after death might show a “beatific” or even “triumphant” entrance into God’s kingdom.”  (The Social Construction of the American Daguerreotype Portrait: The Mourning Portrait. 2014. The Social Construction of the American Daguerreotype Portrait: The Mourning Portrait. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014]. )

“When the first picture became public, legendary writer Edgar Allen Poe commented on the daguerreotyped plate, putting the photograph under scrutiny: ‘in truth, the daguerreotype plate is infinitely more accurate in its representation than any painting by human hands,’ he said. “If we examine a work of ordinary art, by means of a powerful microscope, all traces and resemblance to nature will disappear – but the closest scrutiny f the photographic drawing discloses only a more accurate truth, a more perfect identity of aspect with the thing represented.” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)  T

The difference in paintings and the photograph, along with a more “real” likeness of the subject can go some way in explaining why these images of the dead were so important and seen to give comfort to the bereaved.  With the images appearing so “real”, “a more perfect identity” meant that the person who carried or viewed the image of the deceased, would feel like they still held on to part of them, as if the dead were still with the holder somehow, and this would definitely give some degree of comfort to the bereaved.

While daguerreotypes are important in the history of photography, and also in getting people used to having their image taken it is not where selfies started.   Daguerreotypes can be seen to be the start of a photographic ritual, one that sees the start of people documenting their lives and important occasions, it is one that got people used to being in front of, and behind a lens, having their image taken and learning about the processes of photography.


There is a type of image that aligns itself with the selfies of today in how it was used and that is the visiting card (which was also known as a calling card) which was a form of a portrait of the visitor, or person from which the card cane, printed on to a small card, similar to a business card that was sent to households as a sign of the senders intention to visit.  These cards had a complex set of rules with regard to whether the person could then visit the household or not.  “Visiting cards became an indispensable tool of etiquette, with sophisticated rules governing their use. The essential convention was that one person would not expect to see another person in her own home (unless invited or introduced) without first leaving his visiting card for the person at her home. Upon leaving the card, he would not expect to be admitted at first, but might receive a card at his own home in response. This would serve as a signal that a personal visit and meeting at home would not be unwelcome. On the other hand, if no card were forthcoming, or if a card were sent in an envelope, a personal visit was thereby discouraged. As an adoption from French and English etiquette, visiting cards became common amongst the aristocracy of Europe, and also in the United States. The whole procedure depended upon there being servants to open the door and receive the cards and it was, therefore, confined to the social classes which employed servants. “ ( )  We have adopted the use of calling cards and its updated use can be seen in use on social media sites which require profiles of the user (for example, Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Myspace), complete with basic information or a few words about the person, their interests, where they went to school and also a picture of that person too.

The history of the selfie can be traced back to photo booth images.  There are two main reasons for this statement; one is the way in which the image is framed when being taken, it is a head and shoulder image of yourself, the same style that is being echoed in today’s selfies, the other reason is the way that the image is made. There is only one person present at the time of the photo booth image being made and that is the subject of the photograph; however, it is a machine, working on a time release that depresses the shutter rather than the subject, which is unlike today’s selfies where the subject of the image is also the photographer and the one who controls the shutter release directly.   There are no outside influences from a photographer, the image in a photo booth was created in a controlled environment, from the way the booth was lit to the shutter speed and film speed used, these were things that the image maker could not control, these were set by the photo booth manufacturer or the persons responsible for setting up the booth.  However, the subject was able to have a greater self expression in how they posed, what was worn, what accessories were included and how they wanted the overall image to look and feel like.  The only other thing the image taker could control was when to feed in the money and press a button to control the timer switch which in turn counted down to the mechanical release of the lens shutter.  Wikipedia has the following explanation of the photo booth…

“A photo booth is a vending machine or modern kiosk that contains an automated, usually coin-operatedcamera and film processor. Today the vast majority of photo booths are digital. Traditionally photo booths contain a seat or bench designed to seat the one or two patrons being photographed. The seat is typically surrounded by a curtain of some sort to allow for some privacy and help avoid outside interference during the photo session. Once the payment is made, the photo booth will take a series of photographs (though most modern booths may only take a single photograph and print out a series of identical pictures”.  (Wikipedia, Photo booth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2014. Photo booth – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 September 2013]. )

In early photo booths, a series of different images were taken and then printed out, the exposures generated could capture different expressions or, if you were quick enough to switch round subjects, people too!, however photo booths these days tend to work on a slightly different basis given the reasons behind visiting one has changed so drastically.  When photo booths first came into production they were situated in places such as funfairs and at sea fronts, places that were associated with fun and frivolity.  People were encouraged to visit photo booths in order to mark the occasion and have a memento of their day out away from home.  Now photo booths are situated in corners of supermarkets, or in shopping centres, not really used to “capture the moment” anymore, but used to take photos that can be used for documentation purposes.  The images produced tend to be of one exposure, produced several times on one sheet.  The images created by these machines are now predominantly being used for driving licences, passports, bus passes, college photo id, and other forms of id that need an image of yourself attaching to them.  This shift in how we started to change how we used photo booths aligns itself with the invention and introduction of the celluloid material that negatives are made of.

Eventually, celluloid became the best possible negative material.  Then, a process whereby film (the celluloid negative material) could be developed after exposure led to the advent of the popular Kodak camera, which came out in 1888.” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)

That “popular Kodak camera” was the Box Brownie, a medium format (120mm) film camera.  It was a camera that was simple enough to be mass produced which, in turn, meant that the cost for people to purchase one was cheap and accessible to the masses.  The Box Browinie was also small enough to be carried around and was much more portable than previous cameras (such as the large format predecessors).  The size and cost of the camera appealed to customers who wanted to be able to take their own images, whenever they wanted to, whether that is on holidays or at home, and not have to be guided by a photographer in a stuffy studio.  It gave everyone the chance to become a photographer and capture their own lives.  This was the turning point for photography.

“The Brownie camera was very affordable, selling for only $1 each. Plus, for only 15 cents, a Brownie camera owner could buy a six-exposure film cartridge that could be loaded in daylight. Kodak promised to develop the film for the camera’s owner, rather than the owner having to invest in materials and a darkroom.”  (Brownie Camera. 2014. Brownie Camera. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].)

The concept of the Box Brownie was as simple as the slogan inferred, “You push the button; we do the rest.”.  All the camera user needed to do was take the images they wanted with the camera and Kodak would worry about the film processing and printing procedure, returning the images to the customer post processing.

“The Brownie camera, simple enough for even children to use, was designed, priced, and marketed to have wide appeal. It made photography accessible to the masses.” (Brownie Camera. 2014. Brownie Camera. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].)

The camera had been designed to be easy to use, from loading the film into its body in daylight to capturing an image and through to replacing the film, the market for cameras began to boom and people everywhere wanted one of their own so they could capture images of their choice.

Since the advent of film cameras being available to the mass market there have been so many improvements in the cameras and film industry, to the extent that artists have used the medium to create bodies of work themselves.  Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson worked on a project called “Day by Day” which saw the artists take self-portrait style photographs of themselves every day for nearly three years.  This project started out as a way of documenting the self and, over time and the course of the couples break-up became a way of

“documenting the last years of their emotional journey together. Day by Day presents the reality of the highly emotive and personal struggle to keep the relationship alive. Each image captures something different: each pair of eyes conveying something too powerful to write. A flicker of doubt; an erupting fear; a stare of resolve, all bound together by a sheer determination to love.” (Pocko Editions | Day By Day. 2013. Pocko Editions | Day By Day. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 2 December 2013])  The project images are selfies, but not in the way we know selfies now as the technology and process of creating the image was different.  This project is interesting as it has visual similarity to both photo booth images and today’s typical selfies, however the background is pretty bare and as standalone images, where the images are viewed as singular rather than alongside the other images, they do not speak to us of much, it is hard to get an idea of what the image means without seeing it in context as without the other images the singular photo does not make sense.

The way in which the images Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson produced differs from how selfies are made today in that the image taker is sat in front of the lens and controls the shutter of the camera themselves, choosing when to press the release, this would either be done using a timer on the camera or a cable release that screws into the camera and allows the user to trigger the shutter from afar using a trigger on the other end of the cable.  The images were taken on a film camera, the film needing to be chemically processed and the images printed before they could be viewed which was lengthy, both in the time taken to create the image and the length of time between the image being taken to when the image became viewable to the creator.  Today we are lucky in that we can now take an image on a device and see it instantly, decide if we like it, what to change about it and whether we want to share it to anyone else.


Chapter 2

Self Portraits in the Modern Day

The most popular way to capture and share images today is by using a digital camera.

“There are three main types of digital cameras: cell phone cameras, point and shoot models, and dSLRmodels.  Each has its place in the world of photography.  Chances are you’re familiar with a cell-phone camera – you probably have one.  The camera is part of a series of features that go well beyond phone capabilities, but that are commonplace on today’s cell phones.” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)

The cell phone camera (hereby known as the mobile phone camera) is the most popular choice amongst the masses as, the text above outlines; mobile phones now come equipped with more features than just being a phone.

Today, most cell phones have cameras and Internet access and are referred to as smartphones.  Most are recognised by the operating system they use, which includes Android (Google’s OS), Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry, and Microsoft Windows Mobile.  People subscribe to these operating systems.  Why has a mobile computer operating system become so important in photography?  The answer is one word that conjures up image manipulation possibilities of limitless bounds: apps.  Apps (short for applications) are software programs downloaded from the internet that can transform your image into works of art.”  (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)

Further along in the book it states that

“Having a camera, access to the Internet, and a phone all in one device enabled the instant broadcast of life’s most revealing moments” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)    The mobile is a data centre and hive for all of our social needs, from phone calls, texts, emails and photographs, to the apps which make it possible to share the images we take.

Perhaps the above goes some way to explain the popularity of such apps as Instagram which boasts 150 million active monthly users (as of 14/12/2013), with 75 million of them logging in and using the service on a day to day basis and uploading, between them, on average 55 million images per day (14/12/13), which means about 16 billion images have been uploaded (22/10/13).  Of this, 16 billion uploaded images, 35 million (as of 17/10/13) of them have been categorised as selfies.  (Statistics provide from: 51 Amazing Instagram Statistics (January 2014)DMR . 2014. 51 Amazing Instagram Statistics (January 2014)DMR . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 February 2014].)

Instagram, due to its very nature as a mobile application, which exists on your mobile and can go anywhere with you, means that it is constantly accessible by the click of a button, making it easy to take and upload an image wherever you are.  The appeal of Instagram does not just lie in the ease with which images can be uploaded and shared from the mobile device but in the ease of being able to change the image through a set of pre-loaded filters that can be applied to the image to change different aspects of it.

In the 21st century, we are nostalgic for things from the 20th century.  Some current and future products define themselves by their ability to create nostalgia among people who buy them.  From iPhone apps to Actions in Photoshop, many things are based on making photos look nostalgic.  You can tweak an image using an iPhone app or using Photoshop Actions to make it look as if the image is from another time and place.”  (“Photography has come a long way since the days of placing prints into photo albums by hand.  Automation is the name of the game today, as photographers handle volumes of images using complex photo-management programs.  The programs act as giant filing systems that come with a complete laboratory of processing options that range from grouping and tagging photos to using a wide variety of tools to manipulate the images themselves”. (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)  And it is this appeal of filters, and aging of images that has appeal for many Instagram users.  These filters add effects that can make the image appear old, sun bleached, over exposed, change the image to black and white or add a tone to the image often found on old Polaroid’s.  The effects can be interesting, artistic and add an extra dimension to the images.  What is also interesting, in terms of nostalgia, is that while lots of the images shared to Instagram never get printed, there are places such as Polargram, (a printing service which will print images from your Instagram feed) will print these uploaded images in the same format as the original Polaroid, with the image in a square format and a wide bar of white below it.

“So-called “selfies”, where the photographer takes photos of themselves by holding their camera at arm’s length, have become the most popular image captured by young people.

They now account for 30 per cent of pictures taken by those aged 18-24, with men taking more photos of themselves than women, according to the poll.” (Family albums fade as the young put only themselves in picture – Telegraph. 2014. Family albums fade as the young put only themselves in picture – Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 February 2014].)

As stated in the previous paragraph, selfies are one of the most popular types of photograph taken and these are then shared to sites such as Instagram with the label “selfie”.  The word “Selfie” has been used so prolifically that in August of this year (2013) the word selfie had been recognised and added to the Oxford English Dictionary.  The definition of the word is given below…

Selfie definition from Oxford english dictionary

(Definition taken from the Oxford Dictionaries website found at

Since being added to the dictionary, the word selfie has also been granted the word of the year (November 2013) by Oxford Dictionaries.

“It is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  ( , Richard Lister, 19/11/13) (BBC News – ‘Selfie’ named as word of 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries. 2013. BBC News – ‘Selfie’ named as word of 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries. [ONLINE] Available at  [Accessed 20 November 2013].)

It is hardly surprising that the word selfie has been recognised in this way and also being  named word of the year as currently there are 61552232 images uploaded to the internet that have been labelled with the hash tag #selfie (HOT TAGS & INSTAGRAMMERS | Webstagram. 2013. HOT TAGS & INSTAGRAMMERS | Webstagram. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 10 December 2013].).  What is surprising is that the term selfie has taken so long to be recognised and added to the dictionary as the

“first dated use of ‘selfie’ is back in 2005, when Jim Krause is said to have referred to and popularized it in his book Photo Idea Index.” (Glimpse: Selfie-expalnatory | The LaSallian. 2013. Glimpse: Selfie-expalnatory | The LaSallian. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 23 October 2013.])., and it has taken until 2013 to become a recognised word and added to the dictionary given that it is widely used and recognised in day to day terms and has been for quite some time.

I have identified 3 main types of selfie from comparing many images uploaded to Instagram using the hashtag Selfie (#Selfie) as a search term.

  • The Full Body Selfie Shot – this is most often taken in a full length mirror to get as much of the body in as possible. This type of selfie usually showcases a new outfit or how good the taker looks in certain clothing.  It can also be taken and uploaded to get friends opinions on clothes pre-purchasing.

The Full Body Selfie Shot


Image taken from  (Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. 2013. Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. [ONLINE] Available at . [Accessed 29 December 2013]

  • The Headshot Selfie– This type of selfie can be taken with a forward facing or rear facing camera, using a mirror or the camera’s screen to view how the image will look. This image can show off a person’s make-up, expression, be used to show where they are location wise and for many other reasons.

The Headshot Selfie


Image taken from  (Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. 2013. Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. [ONLINE] Available at . [Accessed 29 December 2013]

  • The Product/Tech Selfie – This type falls into the category of selfie as technically the taker of the image is still in the shot but the main focus is on a certain product or piece of technology such as a mobile phone.

The Product/Tech Selfie


Image taken from  (Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. 2013. Instagram photos for tag #selfie | Statigram. [ONLINE] Available at . [Accessed 29 December 2013]

These photographs are more often than not taken with a mobile phone, the camera facing back towards the subject from arm’s length.  In most cases the arm that holds the device can be seen in the image also, this can be seen in the examples below.

Selfie 1b selfie 1a


The Use of the Hashtag #

Many of the images are tagged #selfie so that they can be easily searched and “liked” via the Instagram search platform as well as other external search engines, for example through Google’s image searching facility. (#selfie – Google Search. 2014. #selfie – Google Search. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 2 February 2014].)

Adding hash tagged words to uploaded images can also add another dimension to the image,

“We might refer here to Diderot’s demonstration in his Lettre sus les sourds-muets: alter the meaning of a word in the lines Homer gives the dying Ajax and the distress of a man who asked only to die in the sight of the gods becomes the defiance of a rebel who faces up to them when dying.  The engravings added to the text supply the evidence to the readers, who can see the alteration not only in the expression on Ajax’s face, but also in the way he holds his arms and the very posture of his body.  Change one word and you have a different emotion, whose alteration can and must be exactly transcribed by the designer.”  (Jacques Ranciere, 2009.  The Future of the Image.  Reprint Edition. Verso)

This idea can be applied to the hash tagged words that accompany images on the internet, especially those uploaded and found on Instagram.  These hash tags not only become a searchable database of similar images but can add information to the image and add to the context and subtext of the image, helping the viewer to understand and read the image in a certain way.   But there are further uses for the hashtag apart from adding a narration to the image it accompanies.

This extract, lifted from website, explains the hash tag perfectly…

A hashtag is a label for content. It helps others who are interested in a certain topic, quickly find content on that same topic.

A hashtag looks something like this:  #MarathonBombings or #SmallBizQuote.

Hashtags are used mostly on social media sites.  They rocketed to fame on Twitter.  But now you can use hashtags on other social platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.

Anyone sharing content on a relevant topic can add the hashtag label to their message.  Others searching for that topic, can search for that label to find other messages on that same social media platform.

For example, during the horrific Boston Marathon bombings in the spring of 2013, several hashtags were used. They proved invaluable for providing and following up-to-the-minute news about the bombings.  In fact, several big news stories in recent years have been amplified and added to with citizen reports and amateur video and photographs.

Hashtags for such situations also provide a way for the public to express their sentiment  – something many of us feel compelled to do in the case of a disaster.  When it comes to natural disasters, a hashtag is like an information lifeline. We cling to it, to learn more about the event and provide an emotional outlet.

Hashtags, however, are not limited to big news stories.  Small business marketers have also cracked the code and figured out inventive ways to use hashtags.”  (What is a Hashtag? And What Do You Do With Hashtags?. 2014. What is a Hashtag? And What Do You Do With Hashtags?. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 January 2014].  )(Anita Campbell 11/8/13)

It is interesting to see how the use of the hash tag has moved from micro-blogging, social networking site Twitter to being used for Facebook and Instagram.  Twitter is a site that is used mainly for uploading “tweets”, 140 character messages to other users of the site.  The hash tag was, as the text states, used originally with Twitter, as a way for the user to find other people commenting on the same topic, or to find out about breaking news stories.  This trend then moved into other realms of social media with it now being a popular way to label images on Instagram.  Facebook also uses the hash tag system that Twitter and Instagram does but it doesn’t seem to be as successful as with other social networks, this could be down to privacy settings on Facebook that allow the user to set who gets to see what, whether things get shared publicly, to friends or even just putting something on your own Facebook for yourself to be able to view only.  Instagram and Twitter, while having privacy settings, dont seem to have these issues as the privacy is either on or off, and not as complex.  There is also an understanding when using Instagram and Twitter, for example, that it is more fun and interactive, and meant to be that anything you say, or image shared, gets shared for the majority of users to see, like and comment on if they so wished, it’s the way the networks were set up, and the way they should be used.  Where is the fun in sharing something and tagging it with different labels if you are only going to share it to yourself, or a select few friends?

It is useful to look at how selfies are taken and the technology that they are taken with, however there are other factors involved with selfies that need careful consideration.  The biggest and most important of these factors is why we take selfies.  Without us taking selfies we would not be considering how selfies are taken or have seen the word selfie become world recognised through use.  As I said in Chapter One of this paper man is fascinated with the idea of self, how he looks and appears to others.  There are many reasons selfies are taken, for example to create a sense of belonging, whether it is belonging to a social group through items you photograph yourself with or wearing, or to create a sense of belonging by being part of a contemporary phenomenon, the idea that you are leaving a mark by creating and posting images for people to view.  Then there are reasons to post that link with the availability of certain functions of the “upload” software, for example both Instagram and Facebook, along with other image sharing applications,  allow viewers of the image to “Like” the image, Instagram does this with a little Heart shaped button to the bottom left of the uploaded image, Facebook has a “Like” button found under the uploaded images, this can lead to the image taker continuing to upload selfies “for the likes” and perceived popularity.  It is interesting to note that many image sharing applications only have a like function button, and this function was probably borrowed from Mark Zuckerberg’s  Facemash.

Facemash, the Facebook’s predecessor, opened on October 28, 2003. Initially, the website was invented by a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, and three of his classmates – Andrew McCollumChris Hughes and Dustin Moskovitz. Zuckerberg wrote the software for the Facemash website when he was in his second year of college. The website was set up as a type of “hot or not” game for Harvard students. The website allowed visitors to compare two student pictures side-by-side and let them choose who was “hot” and who was “not”.” (History of Facebook – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  2003. History of Facebook – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] available at : [Accessed 29 December 2013].)

Gaining likes on images and the feeling of being popular feeds another reason that people take and upload selfies and that is to “become famous” and gain prestige and recognition through the images the taker uploads, which in turn attracts further likes and “followers” to the up loaders image upload stream.  From these last reasons comes a need then to keep making and uploading images so that the image maker can “stay in the limelight” as social media creates the pressure of the more posts that are made by a person, the more visibility that person gets.  With celebrities such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus continually taking and uploading images there is also a celebrity culture that people want to become part of, if the image maker’s favourite celebrity is creating selfies then surely they should be doing the same?  It’s about aspiring to become someone, or be as cool as someone through mimicking actions.  Sometimes the reason behind taking and uploading selfies is quite simple and easy to understand and that reason is power.

“It allows you to control your image online.”I am painfully self-conscious about photos of myself,” admits Samantha, nineteen, from Missouri. “I like having the power to choose how I look, even if I’m making a funny face.”  (The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected Consequences of Selfie Obsession | 2013. The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected Consequences of Selfie Obsession |[ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 23 October 2013].).  Most of these reasons to take and upload selfies fall under the umbrella term of narcissism,

a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.”  (Narcissism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. Narcissism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2013. [ONLINE] available at [Accessed 29 December 2013]).

The idea that selfies are linked to narcissism and narcissistic tendencies is well documented and written about.  In June of 2013, website philstar ( posted an article written by Carlo Rivera entitled The Perks of Being #Selfie which said the following about selfies and narcissism.

“Selfies are commonly associated not with personal risk but with narcissism and vanity.”  (The perks of being # Selfie | Cebu Lifestyle, The Freeman Sections, The Freeman | 2013. The perks of being # Selfie | Cebu Lifestyle, The Freeman Sections, The Freeman | [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 19 September 2013].)


Instagram, iphones and artists

The photographer Nick Knight has recently used the internet to publish a body of work called Pussycat, Pussycat (2012).  Although this work is not related directly to the selfie movement it is related due to the nature of sharing the images.   Nick Knight is a fashion photographer, whose images are more likely to be seen in glossy magazines, on advertising boards across world and in gallery spaces, however, the platform he chose to both create and debut this latest work is in line with how we create and view selfies.  Using the ever popular iphone app, Instagram, Nick Knight has taken these photoshoot images to another viewing level.  Nick’s website, SHOWstudio, explains the shoot in the extract below.

SHOWstudio’s commitment to live fashion takes a new twist: this Friday 20 April 2012, SHOWstudio turns to the latest web tools – Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr – to offer up Nick Knight’s first ever Instagram photo shoot. This is a ‘live shoot’ in its most literal sense, with images of model Cara Delevingne posted online straight from Knight’s camera alongside tweets of pithy analytical fashion commentary from fashion director Alexander Fury. ( Pussycat, Pussycat – SHOWstudio – The Home of Fashion Film . 2014.Pussycat, Pussycat – SHOWstudio – The Home of Fashion Film . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 December 2013]. )

Herein lies the beauty of such an app as Instagram, its appeal lies in the “live” element, where the user can upload the images straight from the image capture device for all to see on the internet.

“Nick Knight on… the appeal of Instagram
“Having a phone and an Instagram account means that I can create images on my own. When I first started using it a couple of years ago, it reminded me of the 70s, when I first started out in photography. It felt very direct – it was about me taking the image. It felt really authentic. I don’t have a Twitter account because it’s essentially about writing and my focus has always been visual. Instagram felt like the most appropriate way for me to communicate. I also really enjoy the instantaneous nature of it – you can publish images straight away – and get feedback from people across the globe. “(Nick Knight on the Changing Face of Fashion Photography – Culture Talks | AnOther. 2014. Nick Knight on the Changing Face of Fashion Photography – Culture Talks | AnOther. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 2 February 2014]. )

The appeal of the “live” element of Instagram is wide-spread, we can upload images quickly of ourselves “here and now” in real time and show the world what we are up to in the present moment.  This is something that is important in life; we are more interested in the present than the past or the future.  The present is very much where it is all happening and is the most important place to be.  So what of the future of the selfie and indeed apps such as Instagram?



The Future of the Selfie

The future of the selfie depends on two main factors, technology and the human need to continue to generate these images.  When talking about technology, reference needs to be made to the image capture device, the way the image is projected (such as screens) and the upload platform for the image to be shared to.

All factors rely on each other to succeed in the terms of the selfie image.  If one starts to fail then the other one will start slipping away, for example if the technology does not shift an develop as quickly as the user would like, or it becomes peppered with software issues then the user is less likely to want to make selfie images to share.  This also works in the other direction too, for example if people were to start to slow down with generating the selfie image to the extent that new applications for sharing these images are not getting as much interest as previously they would, the application creator will stop creating so many ways of taking and making selfies, there would be less choice on the market for the selfie creator to choose from and the interest in taking selfies would drop.


Technological Changes

The way in which we “view” images and other media is set to change.

The book, “Defining the Future of Photography”, (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.) addresses this change in the following extract

Once the digital age began, photography underwent a metamorphosis in the way pictures were developed and printed.  Sensors replaced film as the material upon which an image was formed, and an LCD screen became the primary way people viewed images.”


This extract goes some way to explain the technological changes that have affected the nature of our image viewing. Where we once viewed images and videos on a static screen in our living room has already seen a move to being viewed on the pc screen, laptop screen and mobile phone device.  We are used to seeing images on the television, from young children this is how we were conditioned to view news stories, documentaries about faraway places and other content that was deemed suitable to be broadcast to us, the audience.  That viewing platform has moved to computer screens, in our lifetime, across very few years, and now that content can be streamed to our mobile device.  And it’s not just broadcasting companies that have a choice in what is available to us, with content being added to the internet by the general public, on a second by second rate, we can view pretty much whatever we want to, whether that is a make-up tutorial from a blogger on you-tube or the latest football game that is happening RIGHT NOW, we can watch it all.  This same shift is happening with how images are viewed, once they were static objects, printed in specialist shops from tiny rolls of film, printed onto light sensitive paper and stored in boxes and albums in houses across the land, but since we became more electronics led, we became a nation of photo takers, the process of taking a photograph becoming increasingly cheap due to the developments in technology allowing for a shift from analogue photography to digital, those images that are created comprising of millions of fragments of digital data, many never printed into actual objects to share with family and friends, but to sit forgotten on hard drives, archived away and never looked at, or we would email them to friends who would just glance at them then delete.  This is something that the book “DEFINING THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY” addresses (p13)

“The digital age meant that for the first time, the masses could take photographs and transfer them to the computer.  Images became bits of data that could be manipulated with the click of a mouse.  As the technology progressed, hundreds of images could be stored in a camera and transferred to a computer.  Recreational photographers no longer had to develop their film inside a machine that filled a spartan room in a corner store.  The act of looking at a photograph changed.  No longer did you handle and “look” at images; now you “viewed” them on a screen, able to move them around first with a cursor and a mouse and later with a finger.” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)

Now, in present day terms, we have the opportunity to take a snapshot wherever we are, and using the same piece of technology, upload that image onto the internet for anyone to view, either through a web browser or various applications designed specifically for image viewing and uploading.  That piece of technology that we use for this purpose, has evolved over time, from a static piece of equipment we could only use in our homes or from pay phone boxes, to an added extra in a car, and then to the first “mobile” telephones which you could only make calls on.  The advent of SMS technology really pushed the mobile phone into the limelight, making it one of the “must have” items of the nineties.  From there we have seen the rate of technological advancement sky rocket within the terms of the mobile phone.  Cameras were soon introduced, mobile phone internet (WAP) was created and was easily accessible from your device, and around the same time it became possible to send photos to other recipients via Picture Messaging, a form of SMS with an attached image, which seems almost prehistoric given what mobiles can do today – email, internet, music, video, media streaming of all varieties, calls, texts and other variations of messaging, the creation of mobile phone applications such as Instagram and

“In 2010, iPhone aficionados got what they wanted – two cameras on the iPhone 4.  One of the cameras isn’t for photography, but instead makes the device capable of letting one caller physically view the other” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)  The front and rear facing cameras were to be used for different purposes on the iPhone 4, the rear camera, with its better megapixel camera (5 megapixel) was designed to be used to capture images for photographic purposes, and the front camera of much lower spec (0.3 megapixel) was to be used for video calling purposes.  However, the design of the phone, and the camera positioning made it easier for users to take the typical selfie shot (with the arm out, holding the camera and facing it towards you).  All of this has impacted on the “selfie”, from taking the shot, to sharing it.  So, what does this mean in terms of technology and the selfie in the future?

The drive in new technology seems never-ending and the speed at which new technology is developed and then available for consumers appears quick in its turnaround from an idea or concept to a “living” thing.  We currently have 3D televisions and movies filmed in HD, 3D printers, and internet capable watches which are all really exciting developments for the 21st Century.

We can apply the steps we have seen in past technological drives to current “new” technologies and look at how they may be applied to the selfies of the future.  For example, in terms of cameras, we have seen the analogue, film camera, starting with the large format camera being replaced with the smaller, cheaper, medium format camera (Box Brownie by Kodak being one of the most popular forms), this then went to 35mm film which represented value for money in that there were more exposures available for image capturing,  all this without even mentioning black and white film and the creation of colour capture film!,  Polaroid made a brief appearance with the lure of point, shoot and view your image in seconds, to digital SLR’s and point and shoot digital cameras.

Chase Jarvis published a book of iphone photographs with the title, The Best Camera Is the One That’s With You.  The title of that book has become somewhat of catchphrase for the state of photography as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.  It describes the rise of the cell phone as the primary way people take photographs.  This kind of attitude can’t be good for the future of the point-and-shoot camera.  Although today the point-and-shoot does a better job of taking pictures than a cell-phone camera does, it isn’t the camera that you’re likely to have with you all the time.  That honour goes to the cell-phone camera, which is catching up technologically with the point-and-shoots. Each iphone camera model has a higher megapixel count, and more recent models have a flash, which elevates its effectiveness to that of the point-and-shoot camera of five years ago.” (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)  Considering this was written only a few year ago we can see how far mobile phone cameras have come in a short space in time, and how close they are in comparison to other digital cameras and now, in today’s terms, some are even being overtaken by more and more powerful mobile phone cameras, for example, the Nokia Lumia boasts that it is

“The only smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera sensor, Full HD Video and Nokia Rich Recording for incredible audio capture”,  “Capture high resolution photos, zoom into details and save them as new images, adjust focus, white balance and exposure with easy, intuitive controls.” (Nokia Lumia 1020 – Windows Phone with 41 Megapixel Camera – Nokia. 2014. Nokia Lumia 1020 – Windows Phone with 41 Megapixel Camera – Nokia. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2014]. )

Compare that to the Hasselblad H4D-50 which boasts a 50 mega pixel camera as being 

“the first model to ship in this new series, features a 50 Megapixel medium format sensor and True Focus with APL (Absolute Position Lock), making auto-focus substantially easier and more accurate for photography professionals. Like the rest of the H system cameras, the H4D has been specially designed to meet the most exacting demands of high-end commercial photographers who require the ultimate in both image quality and performance. Simply put, the H4D is the natural evolution of our H System and of our photographic strategy in general.”  (H4D launch. 2014. H4D launch. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2014]. ))

The Nokia Lumia is only 9 megapixels behind the Hasselblad, however it is being marketed more towards the everyday person, costing around £550( Nokia Lumia 1020 sim only deals & offers | The Carphone Warehouse. 2014.Nokia Lumia 1020 sim only deals & offers | The Carphone Warehouse. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2014].)whereas the Hasselblad, costing around £17989 (just for the camera body, not including lenses (Hasselblad H4D-50 Camera Body. 2014. Hasselblad H4D-50 Camera Body. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 February 2014].))  is aiming to capture an audience that has more specific knowledge of photography, and given the price just for the camera body, puts this camera out of reach of the general public.  This is the first major appeal of smartphones with cameras, they are appealing to the general public and can offer almost as much data capture image wise as a camera meant for the serious photographer.

New technologies can be advanced in the same way, for example, the 3D Television technology, could in the future be applied to a smartphone which would enable the user to take 3D selfies and send them to friends on-line or to other 3D ready phones, allowing the image to be viewed in 3D. This would in turn encourage people to take more and more selfies, upload and send them in vast amounts and for them to be viewed in a whole new way.  The same concept can be applied to 3D printing.  While 3D printing is already an available technology, it is in its early stages and not readily available to the public, however, once the technology becomes more and more sought after and cheaper in production it will become more mainstream and readily available.  This would mean that we could, in effect take 3D images of ourselves and “print” them out, creating mini maquettes of ourselves to give to friends and family, or be able to upload or send the 3D pattern details for people to print themselves.

It’s not just about developing new technologies, but adapting technology that we already own, at present there are a range of products aimed at adapting what we already have.  For example,  (3 in 1 Quick Connect Fish Eye Wide Angel Micro Camera Lens Kit For iPhone 4 4S | eBay . 2014. 3 in 1 Quick Connect Fish Eye Wide Angel Micro Camera Lens Kit For iPhone 4 4S | eBay . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 February 2014].)





(Images from

These lenses have been developed to work with current IPhones in order to push the limits of the existing internal cameras.  They clip on to the phone using either a built on clip device or using a specially adapted phone case that you place over the handset when setting up.  This type of lens will usually offer the chance of taking wide angle shots, telescopic lenses for better zoom capabilities or fish eye lenses which are super wide angle lenses which can create distortions in the image, curving up the edges but can create some nice effects when used correctly.

Combining the idea of turning images back into physical objects whilst also having the option to share them to the internet is an idea that has been taken on and from a concept is coming a product which will allow that very function to happen… Socialmatic’s camera that combines the instant-ness of a Polaroid image, enabling the user to create a photograph quickly and have it printed and available to pass round quickly, with the appeal of Instagram, namely being able to add filters to the image to change its style and colours and also the ease of uploading as it will have internet capability as long as it is connected to wifi.  Socialmatic said of their product

“We were strongly motivated to reach an agreement to create a small revolution in digital photography,” said Antonio De Rosa, chief executive of Socialmatic. “This mix of Hardware and Software, together with our brand new photo social network will fill the gap between virtuality and reality.”

(Socialmatic: Polaroid Instagram camera coming in 2014 – Telegraph. 2014.Socialmatic: Polaroid Instagram camera coming in 2014 – Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].)

In order to survive, selfies need technology, and advancements in technology that focus on image capture, whether it remains as it is today or it evolves into another way of creating self-images, or indeed, in viewing these images, need to appeal to the image maker, both in ease of making the image and in sharing the taken image.  New developments in software will keep people interested in taking images and sharing them, for instance, in the last year alone, while people have been leaving Facebook, the “active users” per day/week/month have been dropping with the Guardian running an article about it in their paper on Sunday 10th November 2013.

Facebook made a startling admission in its earnings announcement this month: it was seeing a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”.” (Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . 2014. Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 2013].)

The article states that

Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids’ photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.” (Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . 2014. Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 2013]. )  Meaning that the likes of Facebook are no longer seen as being cool because of the range of users it is attracting, namely parents and other older relatives, who many of the younger users do not wish to share their lives with in such a way.  This has given way to newer apps to take over and capture the flocks that are seeking other methods of social networking away from Facebook.  The article in the Guardian goes on to back this up

“Part of the reason is that gradual encroachment of the grey-haired ones on Facebook. Another is what messaging apps have to offer: private chatting with people you are friends with in real life.” (Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . 2014. Teenagers say goodbye to Facebook and hello to messenger apps | Technology | The Observer . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 12 November 2013].)

This kind of “private chatting” facility, and private image sharing is utilised in the app, Snapchat,an ever growing, popular app that has image sharing at its core.  This app lets its users send images to one another with a time limit on how long the image is viewed for before it disappears and is unable to be viewed again.  Then there is the availability of software such as BBM (Blackberry Messenger) which was only available to use, exclusively, between owners of Blackberry handsets, this software has now become available to iphone users, which has in turn seen a increase in users of the software.  These apps are more private than Instagram and Facebook and are therefore harder to control in terms of what kind of images get sent and viewed, because of the very nature of the applications it is possible to use these image sharing apps for darker purposes, such as sexting, where images of a sexual content are taken and sent for purposes of titillation and flirting.  (See  (Cheryl Cole launches divorce action against cheat Ashley. 2014. Cheryl Cole launches divorce action against cheat Ashley. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 February 2014].) for one celebrity who liked to send girls snaps of himself in pants as part of sexting….)  Even pop star Kesha, teaming up with Taio Cruz, has sung about the images involved in sexting and the pressures of it, in the song “Dirty Picture” (, (Taio Cruz – Dirty Picture ft. Ke$ha – YouTube. 2014. Taio Cruz – Dirty Picture ft. Ke$ha – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 February 2014]. ).  The repetition of the lyrics “take a dirty picture for me, take a dirty picture” conveys the pressure that some people feel they are under to go ahead with what is being asked of them.

“ I could dream of ways to see you
I could close my eyes to dream
I could fantasize about you
Tell the world what I believe
But whenever I’m not with you
It’s so hard for me to see
I need to see a picture of you
A special picture just for me, yeah

So take a dirty picture for me
Take a dirty picture
Just take a dirty picture for me
Take a dirty picture
Just send the dirty picture to me
Send the dirty picture
Just send the dirty picture to me
Send the dirty picture


Whenever you are gone, I just wanna be wit ya
Please don’t get me wrong, I just wanna see a picture
(Kesha – Dirty Picture Lyrics | MetroLyrics. 2014. Kesha – Dirty Picture Lyrics | MetroLyrics. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 February 2014]. )

In itself, so long as the people sending and receiving images are of consensual age there should not be a problem with these kinds of apps, but given that a number of its users are 13 or younger (the minimum age for using apps such as these is 13, however there is no real way of finding out a users age when during sign up they can so easily give a false date of birth to obtain the app) there is more of a risk to them to either emulate what they see celebrities doing or be pressured into sending images of a sexual nature.

But, it is not just about how technology evolves that will keep us taking selfies, the trends in popular culture play a part in this and will have us snapping selfies for a long time to come.  Beauty giant Max Factor have recently been running a campaign launching their new “Excess Volume Extreme Impact Mascara” and has been encouraging its users to take “selfeye’s” which The Sun explains is

“The idea is to get people to snap a picture of one of their own eyes, in all its made-up glory – a selfie for just that one facial feature in other words.” (The Sun, Sunday January 12, 2014)

The #selfeye was also featured in Look Magazine (27th Jan 2014) and said of the trend

“It’s set to go mainstream as make-up artists, bloggers and lash lovers post pics to Instagram and Pinterest showcasing their elaborate cosmetic handiwork.”  Max Factor is using the hashtagging craze to promote and advertise its products.  This in turn encourages users to make #selfeye images and post them to become part of a campaign and gain new followers and meet fellow users of the same product, as well as be able to follow the latest trends in eye make-up and check out other users work.  And in using the #selfeye it is promoting their own handiwork, the images then getting more views and likes and followers from others who may be viewing the images tagged with the same phrases.

What started off as quite an innocent trend has now moved into darker territory with trends such as the #belfie, a selfie shot where the backside is the main feature of the image, and #bikinibridge, a shot of the hips and legs, when lying down that show the gap between the hips and clothing of the person taking the shot, gaining momentum.


An example of a #bikinibridge image taken from

The #bikinibridge ‘trend’ came out a few days ago when online forum 4chan decided to create a viral hoax about it. All it took was a fakeTumblr, screen shots of false tweets from celebrities like Harry Styles and Justin Bieber endorsing the bikini bridge, and lo and behold, it was an internet trend. “  (‘Bikini Bridge’ hoax: how the internet ate itself – Telegraph. 2014. ‘Bikini Bridge’ hoax: how the internet ate itself – Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 02 February 2014]. )

While #bikinibridge may have started out as an internet hoax a quick search using either term on Instagram show that it is mostly girls using these hash tags.  There is cause for concern as these images are about flaunting your body, sexualisation and objectification of the female body.  This cannot be a healthy trend to follow or even start to join in with.

The #bikinibridge hoax goes beyond an internet prank – it shows how easy it is to objectify women and how willing society is to accept it without question. But the serious worry is that vulnerable women and girls will see the pictures, and even if they know it’s a joke, will start to think they too should have bikini bridges.” (‘Bikini Bridge’ hoax: how the internet ate itself – Telegraph. 2014. ‘Bikini Bridge’ hoax: how the internet ate itself – Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 02 February 2014].)

The trend for the term #belfie was probably started, and in any case fuelled, by celebrity Kim Kardashian, who “took what has become perhaps the most iconic selfie of all time. It’s her, looking into a mirror, taking a photo of her own bum”. ( Selfies: the dos and don’ts of the word of the year | Technology | The Guardian . 2014. Selfies: the dos and don’ts of the word of the year | Technology | The Guardian . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 February 2014]. )


Taken from newspaper report in the Daily Mail titled “ And another one strikes a pose! Cheryl Cole joins Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian by sharing a rose-tinted ‘belfie’”

Read more: Chery Cole joins Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian by sharing a rose-tinted ‘belfie’ | Mail Online. 2014. Chery Cole joins Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian by sharing a rose-tinted ‘belfie’ | Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook (

Kim Kardashian is already famous for her curves and rear end and by making this the subject of her selfies only reinforces this and continues to make her curves the thing she is most noted for.  It starts a trend though, with younger girls wanting to emulate the famous pose, which could be seen as being damaging for them as there is never any real idea, once these images have been uploaded, of knowing who has viewed them.  An older woman can judge what she is uploading and decide whether she wants to upload the image and if anything untoward was to happen to that image, or she get contacted by someone with unwanted messages then she can deal with them in a better way than a child.  The main concern behind these images is that they are posted for one reason only and that is attention.  The images seek “likers” to make the poster feel good about themselves but they can attract the wrong kind of attention and also reinforce negative body images.

The trend for the #lelfie is slightly different because, apart from it being a leg selfie, it can be posted for several reasons, and is not intended solely for the purpose of seeking attention, it can be posted (#ootd) or to show where the poster is, for example if they are on holiday, it doesn’t have to be so sexualised as an image.  Browsing through the #lelfie on  (Instagram photos for tag #lelfie | Statigram. 2014. Instagram photos for tag #lelfie | Statigram. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6 February 2014].)  will show the image to be more of a point of view image from the image takers perspective than something untoward, for example


Image taken from a search for the term #lelfie ( )

The image above is a typical #lelfie shot, taken from the perspective of the image creator, it shows the legs and feet, the flooring and, in this particular image, the self as a shadow.  There are many images that are visually similar to the above image that are tagged as #lelfie’s and can be seen to add to a discourse that is documenting everyday life, of storytelling and travelling.

Instagram has a set of guidelines and rules over the types of images shared, for instance

You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.” (Terms of Use • Instagram. 2014. Terms of Use • Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].)  However some images that fall into these categories outlined are still being uploaded on a day to day basis simply because Instagram and other such sites rely heavily on the users of the site to report any images that infringe their usage rules.  If images are being seen as being ok, and users are accustomed to viewing these images, celebrities and other famous people are uploading these types of images then the images are not going to get reported to the software providers and will become the norm.

The #felfie is another image term taking the internet by storm.  This term refers to selfies of farmers and is a way of showing people where their food comes from and also becomes a way of other farmers to meet and network with other farmers across the globe.

 “, a blog set up by Essex farmer @willwilson100, collects the latest felfies from around the world – showcasing rural working lives everywhere from Finland to Argentina.” (The felfie: how farmers are embracing social media | Environment | The Guardian . 2014. The felfie: how farmers are embracing social media | Environment | The Guardian . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 January 2014]. )

The hash tag term felfie not only becomes a category of image it has opened up a way for farmers to network with each other and has opened up the chanels of social media once again, instead of the image just being about gaining likes and follows it has sparked up some interesting conversations surrounding the farming lifestyle.

“As ag blogger Ryan Goodman said about the felfie on his blog:

It’s actually a pretty great way for farmers to mesh with a pop-culture movement and make a few connections that lead to a little advocacy. Adding a bit of personality to our messages helps build those relationships.

The felfie isn’t just a product of having smart phones, it’s also a product of having an all consuming job where you are mostly working alone. Snapping a photo of yourself doing something interesting to share with the world creates a fun and helpful circle for farmers to share what they love doing with others who are passionate about food and the environment.” (Felfies help people understand where their food comes from | Carrie Mess | Comment is free | . 2014. Felfies help people understand where their food comes from | Carrie Mess | Comment is free | . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 January 2014].)

With the rise of the #felfie as a way of connecting with others in that job there could be a wave of other job description based hash tags appearing over the internet… Offelfie?*  Anyone?   (Office selfie term perhaps?)




“Photography has come a long way since the days of placing prints into photo albums by hand.  Automation is the name of the game today, as photographers handle volumes of images using complex photo-management programs.  The programs act as giant filing systems that come with a complete laboratory of processing options that range from grouping and tagging photos to using a wide variety of tools to manipulate the images themselves”. (Matthew Bamberg, 2011. New Image Frontiers: Defining the Future of Photography. 1 Edition. Cengage Learning PTR.)    This is a problem caused by digital photography, we can take more and more photos because we are not so restricted by exposure amounts like we were with film (where we could only take a certain, finite amount of images before changing the roll of film versus the memory card which provides us with a way of taking an almost infinite number of images), and the expense or cheapness, once purchased a digital capture device will take image, after image, after image, being restricted only by memory card size.  It means we can take more and more images than ever before.  The storage problem of these images can be solved by uploading these images to the web, adding hash tagged words to categorise and find them again more easily, and photo sharing however it means that we will be exposed to even more images than before.  And with people liking to capture themselves in photos as selfie images, we are going to be seeing even more of these images.

But will people ever tire of making selfies?  Or even looking at selfies?  With regard to the latter question, the answer must be a yes as our newsfeeds on most social media site are getting clogged up with the latest friends selfie snap, and while it can be fun to check out a new image occasionally it can be pretty boring seeing so many each day.

Annebella Pollen wrote about cultural status in “When is a cliché not a cliché? Reconsidering Mass-Produced Sunsets”, about images that have low cultural status, such as sunsets being

“Equivalent, perhaps, to images of kittens or thatched cottages, sunset photographs have a low cultural status: they are characterised as sentimental visual confectionary indicative of limited aesthetic vision and an undeveloped practice; as childlike pleasures. Sontag’s statements in particular imply that more experienced and aspirational photographers grow out of the sugary-sweet excesses of their early days and come to prefer the more restrained pleasures and acquired tastes of legitimate art. This attitude is echoed in Robert Castell and Dominique Schnapper’s sociological study of camera club activity in the 1960s. They quote a camera club member who dismisses what he calls “photography which is too ‘pretty'”. He states: “You come across clichés particularly among the beginners: hackneyed subjects. As soon as you have a little photographic education you can’t look at them anymore”. ( )

Where Annebella considers sunsets and images of kittens to be of a low cultural status, so the selfie can be seen as having the same cultural standing, not because they are no longer important but because the value of the image itself has dropped as there are so many shared on a day to day basis, that we, as viewers no longer really see the image and are more likely to switch off to it than spend time really looking at it and assessing what the image really is about.

In the terms of whether we will ever tire of making selfie images, the answer in short is no.

While manufacturers keep producing better cameras for us to take images with, whether they are attached to our mobile devices or not, there will always be a means for us to pose, and pout at the lens and capture an image for us to send to our friends to check out.  But, it’s not just about the technology, as was discussed in Chapter 3, where we can find new ways to capture the “self” and means to define and categorise these images there will always be a need to identify with these new movements in some way.  Humans are programmed to react to changes around them, identify them and move with them, there is an element of inclusion to the human race, people want to be included and participate, even in a small way, just so they don’t feel left out.

The #felfie trend brings us back to why applications, such as Instagram and Facebook began to exist in the first place, and that reason was to be social, share with others what you do, your ideas and thoughts and connect with others in a way that wasn’t just spoken or written, but visual too.  As a whole we are talking about social media, and the reason for it being such a successful concept that so many platforms offer social networking, blogging, micro blogging etc, is because we are sociable creatures, we need to seek out the advice and opinions of others as well as their approval and on occasion disproval, we have a need to start conversations, join conversations and be part of communities.



Read more:Chery Cole joins Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian by sharing a rose-tinted ‘belfie’ | Mail Online. 2014. Chery Cole joins Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian by sharing a rose-tinted ‘belfie’ | Mail Online. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2014].
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook (





Forced Hiatus from Blogging

I’ve really missed blogging here and writing about my projects and haven’t blogged since November 2013, nearly 4 months ago 😦  I’ve missed writing for fun but had to take a forced hiatus of sorts as I had to write my dissertation for uni.  This is now complete and over with now and I can begin to ease myself back into blogging about things I love!  😀

I suppose, as my dissertation took up so much of my time and became my life for such a long time I should let you all know what it was about…  The title for my dissertation was “The Self Portrait and The Selfie”  which sums it up in a manner.  I chose the subject of the Selfie as I have been interested in social media and the selfie for as long as I can remember, not because it fascinated me but because I just didn’t understand why people want to take selfies and post them all the time,  I got myself an iPhone and an Instagram account (@siouxsietench if you want to follow me!  I follow back in most cases…) and so began my own journey into the world of selfies.  My dissertation split down into  3 main chapters, Chapter 1 looked at Self Portraits and the history behind them, from paintings to photography and the shift in technology that helped push photographic images of the self into the mainstream arena.  Chapter 2 was about the Selfie today and how social media (focusing mainly on Instagram) and mobiles have become acceptable ways of taking and sharing the selfie image, how the way we label images changes our perception and interaction with the image and others and how it has become popular culture, Chapter 3 looked at the future of the selfie with regard to developing technologies and movements within the context of the selfie and how we label them (ie; using the # not just as a way to label images but to become a platform for communities to chat about shared ideas (see #felfie )  I quoted Kesha along the way and also linked to the Chainsmokers #Selfie song too….

And eventually I finished.  8989 words later it has been printed and bound and submitted for marking and I’m so relieved.  I can’t say that the process has been enjoyable, for me it has been a struggle to meet the word count as I really don’t like using too many words when a few will suffice so a lot of time was spent expanding on my sentence structures.  My lecturer said that I’d chosen a difficult subject to write about as it wasn’t “static”, which, at the time I didn’t understand.  I know what she meant by “static” now though, in that the #selfie is fairly new and there is so much being written about them in newspapers and magazines, blogs and books at the moment, there has been a bombardment of opinions about the topic and that has been a hard thing to negotiate.  But its finished now and I can get back to doing stuff I love, like blogging and art!  😀



Summer Project and Dissertation Thoughts

The summer project we were given in uni to work on over the summer was to start researching, looking at and producing work that would see us through our final year and form our final piece, preferably in line with our dissertation which should lead on from our Literature Review that we wrote in the final term of our second year (you can read mine here ).  I wrote about snapshots and how the introduction of technologies, such as the camera phone and DSLR’s, software like Photoshop and photo-sharing (Facebook and Instagram for example) have changed how we take, manipulate and share images.  Many family photo albums have ceased to exist once film cameras have been replaced by digital capture devices, instead these images remain stored as digital data on computers and discs, a selection being uploaded to be shared with friends on social networking sites. 

With this train of thought going on, I have started to turn my attention to the actual images we share.  With software such as Photoshop becoming more affordable and easy to use we can manipulate images we take , never having to share a bad photo again.  I have noticed that many of my friends now go through their images with a fine tooth comb, editing sometimes to the same degree that an advertising image may be edited, before sharing.  Gone are the photos of us with less than perfect skin/teeth/hair etc, as to are the badly framed images where peoples heads are not in the shot, blurry images and those “happy accidents” where the camera has miss-fired and captured something we didn’t mean to capture.  Much of this is down to the image taking capabilities and the method of shooting.  With film cameras we did not have the means to review an image straight away, and the cost meant we couldn’t take images one after the other after the other like we can now.  With film, people were limited to 24 or 36 shots per roll (35mm film) and depending on how much film you could afford to purchase and then pay to get developed, now with digital image taking you are only limited by how many images you can fit onto a memory card or the battery life of your camera.

Anyway, back to images we share, which I’m thinking is where I am going to be focusing my energy for this project and dissertation work…

rene not a pipe


I keep seeing this image (above,The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) by Rene Magritte) and I am beginning to form links with images we see today.  (Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter from Belgium who lived between 1898 and 1967, the image is currently on display in LA County Museum of Art) .  The image makes us question our relationship to images, this is a pipe, but it’s not a pipe, it is not the actual object but a representation of that object.  In the same way, with photo editing software, we an question photographs and other images we see today, flaws an be removed, skin and eyes made brighter, teeth whitened, people slimmed, backgrounds changed, people an be edited out – a pretty endless list of changes can be made to an image before being shared to the public domain.  Any image we view now needs to be viewed in the same way as Rene’s work as many of the images we see are just representations, not a actual truth which could be captured and less easily manipulated when using film to make images.

With film though, and its the same with digital image capture, as a viewer we are never really sure if an image has been staged to look a certain way or if it is spontaneous, for example, I could decorate my house out with all the Christmas paraphernalia and take images supposedly showing the festive season but have taken them in June… the viewer could come to the conclusion that the images were actually made in December but the truth is way out.

This all then brings me to advertising campaigns, with all this photo-editing going on in our own homes, and fairly easily at that given that there are you tube tutorials for just about anything and everything you could ever want to do, we, as viewers are more likely to question adverts.  But this is not my point… With all images being edited to some extent or other, our “snapshots” that we share have become an advert, something carefully constructed, and thought about in terms of how we are seen in these images by the viewers of them.  As image takers and sharers we are fully aware of what the images we are seen in say about us.  We want to be like the models in adverts with the perfect skin, glossy hair, having fun, being fashionable, being popular etc… that we only ever share the best images of us.

Anyway, this is just a few of the thoughts going around in my head at the moment with regard to my dissertation…

For the project that runs alongside my dissertation I have been looking at film snapshots and Corrine Day in particular as she has shot many projects in the style of snapshot photography, Diary (some images from this project can be viewed on her site here) being one of them.  I am unsure which direction to go in with snapshot photography as I have a few directions and interests on this subject – one of those being to take my own snapshots and focus, possibly, on re-creating or making snapshots of everything I would normally use digital imaging for, or look at the extinction of film photography and photographs, family albums as actual objects, and old film created photographs as the precious objects they once were.

Literature Review – How Social Media and Technology Have Created a Shift In The Family Album and Snapshots

This is the literature review I wrote as part of my second year in Photo Art (BA) .  I thought I would share as it links in with the work I have been doing under the main title of “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Control” where I was looking at the role of Facebook in data collecting and how social media links in with ideas surrounding voyeurism, surveillance and control.  From that I started looking at what else we share, from that I came to look at images and how we share them, from snapshots we made using film (35mm/120mm and other films) to digital media sharing of today.  I am fairly pleased with the grade and feedback I had from this essay (B12, which means a mid B!) as I was worried that the subject I had chosen was too big to talk about in 3500 words (excluding quotes) however, this now gives me leeway with writing my dissertation which I am going to be branching out from this subject further and looking more at modern ways of sharing and how the shift in technology has affected the ideas behind the term “snapshot”.

How Social Media and Technology Have Created a Shift In The Family Album and Snapshots.




  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – The History of Photography and the Family Album
  • Chapter 2 – The Family Album and Technology
  • Chapter 3 – The Snapshot
  • Chapter 4 – Kodak Culture
  • Chapter 5 – Image Making And Editing
  • Chapter 6 – Sharing Images
  • Chapter 7 – Photo Editing, Technology and the Home Today
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography




I have based my reading around the topic of social media and snapshots as I feel that this is a really big trend in the 21st century and is also one that is set to continue as the technology shifts to create better cameras and easier ways of sharing images.  So far we have witnessed the rise of the device-attached camera, such as those on the mobile phone device, MP3 players (like the iPod) and even camera’s on laptops and computers.  Most of these devices can now easily connect to the internet, most mobiles, and some computers have in built internet (mobile phone SIM packages and the invention of the Internet Dongle) which has then impacted on how we both take, and share images, to the extent that the traditional ‘Family Album’ does not readily exist in the same format anymore, it has become no longer a treasured object but a mass of data saved on a hard-drive or existing on the world wide web somewhere.

With these thoughts in mind I have predominantly based my reading around a book by Risto Sarvas and David M. Frohlich which deals with the shift in technology and snapshot photography – “From Snapshots To Social Media – The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography”. This book was published in 2011 by Springer.  As it was published quite recently, the book not only deals with fairly current topics but also gives historic information about the technology used in creating an image and talks about the changing role of the photograph from daguerreotypes, calotypes and other early means of photography to where photography is today, what photographs mean, how shifts in technology have both influenced and shifted photographic means and how this has affected the idea of the family album and even on to where photography may be headed in the future.

I start this literary review with the history of photography, not only as it is covered in the first chapter in the book “From Snapshots to Social Media” but also because without understanding the history of photography, the camera and the image we would not be able to understand how we are where we are today in the terms of sharing images, photography and the means with which we share our images.  Without the history of photography to build upon images and the sharing of photos would look totally different, for society and for us personally.


The History of Photography and the Family Album


“From Snapshot to Social Media” talks about Family Albums and how through a need for storage of images that they came to be produced, “The tremendous popularity of the carte-de-visite, which was termed ‘cartomania bought about the birth of another key element of domestic photography; the family album.”  “The paper albumen prints, of which cartes were one type, required no case but were kept in albums for protection, and importantly, as a convenient way of showing and storing the images.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)

The carte’s are described as “a photograph of a certain size and material: a 63mm x 100mm (2.5” x 4”) albumen print photograph pasted on a slightly larger piece of cardboard.  A carte was the size of a visiting card, and initially the photographs were used as such.  However, the small size proved more important in bringing down the price and costs of photography.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  Carte’s and their production were important in changing the distribution of photographs and photography, whereas once only the elite members of society could afford to have their image made (such as with the means of daguerreotypes), the production and relative cheapness of cartes meant that more people than before could afford to have their images taken, and even collect and distribute images to family and friends.  Cartes were a turning point for photography and the sharing of images in general.   The colleting of images and storing of images led to the family album, which not only documented the family life but all things meaningful to the family in general.  The book “From Snapshots to Social Media” explains “The public image of the domestic was presented in the same format and in the same book as the public images of members of aristocracy, celebrities, statesmen, clergymen, and scientists, along with views, events, news, and moralising or humour-focused commentaries.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)   It was not just photographs of immediate family that were collected but other influencing role models that had currency in the families beliefs and social ideals were collated together too.   This meant that anyone who shared in the viewing of the family album could understand, not just the fundamentals of the family but their social standing and the belief systems that they subscribe to.  The paragraph then goes on to draw parallels with photographs used on social media sites today “As mentioned, much as do the twenty-first century’s social networking service profile pages,  which present the person; his or her social network; and the larger-scale public figures, events, news, etc. that he or she supports or values.   Also, both cartes and the profile pictures on the Internet adhere to a specific visual code, the purpose of which is to declare one’s belonging to a specific social group or class.”  This is a very relevant point that has been outlined in this comparison as we can see how historical means of photography has influenced, and in some ways remained the same, although the means of viewing the image may have changed, from actual photographs to images displayed on-screen, the way the subject is perceived is still as important today as back then.  It is also an interesting point that is made, that the albums of old and the images shared on social media networks have the same point, both are used to define who we are, what we are about, our beliefs, class, sub-cultures we may subscribe to and any other factors that an act as a visual representation of who we are and what we stand for.  Today images are still stored at home, “People go abroad and take photographs, then return home to view, show, share, and store the captured pictures.  The cameras, photo albums, prints, printers, computers, mobile phones, television sets, and other photographic technologies can all be taken out of the home space, but they do ‘live’ at home as much as the owners of these technologies.  Their resting place is at home.”(RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  While the images still exist, they are stored in a much different way.




The Family Album and Technology


Through the birth and development of technology, the traditional photo album has ceased to be a popular choice; many people now use computers to store their many photographs, the images staying as computer files instead of actual objects.  However, in order to keep the images in some sort of system they are stored in file systems on the computer or uploaded to the internet, social media sites in particular (ie Facebook) and stored in virtual “Albums” which still have the same meaning and read in a similar way to the albums of previous years.  People still want to share their ideas, beliefs, social standing, culture, etc, with friends and that has been made easier through technological developments over time.  The whole concept of the family album, sharing who we are and what we are about, then leads us into the sharing of our images, which is discussed further in the next paragraph.

“The albums had a more social and interactive function as well.  They were a source of entertainment and stimuli for conversation, (Wichard and Wichard 1999), and the albums also encouraged the practice of exchanging photographs amongst family and friends.  … Therefore, the album contained the images not only of public figures, and members of the family, but of friends and relatives as well.  Effectively, the family album became a catalogue of who belongs to the family, who their acquaintances are, and the wider public context the family wants to associate itself with.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).   From this explanation of the Family Album and its functions we can apply this to images on social media today.  In such a way, the images we share on social media networks has not moved on from the past, we still want to be associated with certain ideologies, and want to control the context in which the viewer perceives us.  It is interesting, then, to note that it is not just images of family, friends and other people that are shared that add to this perception, brands and products are also photographed.  You only need to look at photographs people share on social networking to see that this whole idea prevails today, for example, young people making images of their Starbucks coffees, there is a whole connotation surrounding coffee, that it is sophisticated and classy, and grown up, then there is the connotation of the Starbucks brand – their mission statement “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.” (Mission Statement | Starbucks Coffee Company. 2013. Mission Statement | Starbucks Coffee Company. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 04 April 2013].) straight away conjures up images of being hand crafted, special, one of a kind, artisan, but also the general ideas surrounding the Starbucks brand, one of expense, luxury, sophistication,  are also ideals that people want to be associated with. By taking photos of these things, the photographer, themselves, is creating their own unique ideas of themselves for other people to see.

While I am looking at the similarities in traditional family albums and how they still bare similarities to image sharing on social media it is worth investigating and noting women’s role in the up-keep of the family album.  “The role of women in the early decades of snapshot photography gradually was formed into the role of curators of the family photo albums.  Both men and women photographed, but the family album was typically left to the mother of the family.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  Although the idea of the family album has changed from being one of a physical object to one that is now predominantly kept online, women, more than men still seem to be the main curators, for example on Facebook the average woman uploads 347 images and is tagged in 73 whereas men upload on average 179 images and are tagged in just 35 (Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. 2013. • Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 20 March 2013].) I am not sure whether this is down to women having more accounts on Facebook than men (52% of users are women compared to 48% of men (• Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. 2013. • Number of photos per Facebook user 2011 | Statistic. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 20 March 2013].) which is not a great percentage difference but in terms of actual figures can be considered a lot when you understand that Facebook has over 1.2 Billion users worldwide (United Kingdom Facebook Statistics by Countries | Socialbakers. 2013. United Kingdom Facebook Statistics by Countries | Socialbakers. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 16 March 2013].)) or whether it is down to women being more sociable and wanting to share occasions with their friends.  It can be argued that women have continued with the role as curator of the family album and have adapted this role to fit with social media or it could be that women are just more sociable in today’s modern society built on social media and networking. (Women update their Facebook status on average 21 times per month whereas men only update their status on average 6 times per month in comparison (Facebook: A Profile of its ‘Friends’ In light of…. 2013. Facebook: A Profile of its ‘Friends’ In light of…. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 04 March 2013].).  From these figures it can be seen that women have adapted and adopted social media as another tool in keeping in touch with friends and family.



The Snapshot


From looking at the history and relationships between the family album and the role of photographs in social media, it is important to look at the actual type of photography that is being used in both the family album and the images shared on line.  The type of photography that is being used in both fits in to the genre of snapshot or domestic photography.   The book ‘From Snapshots to Social Media’ describes the term “domestic photography” as being “used to describe the photographic activities of ordinary people taking and using images for non-professional purposes. Also in our use of the term we focus on the kind of use in which photography is not a hobby as such but embedded in other activities.  The word ‘domestic’ implies that the activity takes place mainly in the home, and the home is the headquarters for this activity.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer) The same book uses a similar definition in explaining snapshot photography “(i.e., unskilled amateurs taking images with their own cameras).” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  In other words, both of the definitions given mean the same thing and have the same characteristics and can be spoken in the same way with the same effects being given.  While we are defining the meaning of snapshot photography it is important to note other’s definition of the term “snapshot”.  The book “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots” speaks of the term as being used “to describe an amateur form of image-making, requiring little or no photographic skill on the part of the photographer.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  It is interesting to note that all definitions are similar in that they both define the snapshot to being an image made by ordinary people, with no formal qualifications in photography, and producing images for no financial benefit.  The benefits of such photography is mainly along the lines of documentation, of taking photos of meaningful family moments, of capturing occasions and holidays, family, friends and relatives, to enrich and add to a long standing family history and tradition.

Because snapshots are taken by unskilled amateurs there are mistakes made along the way during image creation.  Half of the appeal of snapshots can be the technical failings, and are easily recognisable when looking at any family album. “…most family photographs are not particularly distinguished on the level of technical skill or approach.  We may wish in retrospect that we had taken extra care in composing a photograph of our friends and families, that the regular mishaps of a finger over the lens or ‘red-eye’ had been avoided.  But ultimately these are not the criteria by which such photographs succeed or fail for us.  What is important is the presence of loved ones at a significant event or moment that prompted the taking of an image…We generally take pictures at symbolic points in family life, at times when we acknowledge our relationship bonds and social achievements.  They are moments we want to hold onto, emotionally and visually.  Typically the situations are shared cultural events: throwing confetti after a wedding ceremony, blowing out candles on a birthday cake, serving a meal at religious festivals.  Or they demarcate our rites of passage: a new-born baby being bought home, a ride on a new bicycle, a grandparent teaching a child to read or tie shoelaces. ” (Charlotte Cotton. 2009. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. 2nd Edition. UK. Thames and Hudson).  We still take photographs of all of these kinds of events, however the margin of error has been narrowed by developments in technology where we can review the image we have taken immediately, re-shoot, re-compose or edit at a later time.  There is less worry placed upon cost of film, not knowing if the image you have created is free from imperfections and running out of film, most cameras, now, record the image onto a memory card or device that is capable of holding hundreds, if not thousands of image files.  It is also interesting to note that it is these flaws, and others that affected film photographs that are now being sought to be replicated in such applications as Instagram.





Kodak Culture


To understand how photography and snapshooting came to be part of domestic life we need to look at and understand Kodak Culture.  Kodak culture refers to the society that came along with snapshot photography and the brand.  Kodak was responsible for creating cheap snapshot cameras that penetrated the market and made photography accessible to all, seemingly, most people then owned and shot with a Kodak.  This is addressed in “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots”, which states  “Only after Kodak began to advertise snapshot cameras as a means of documenting family life and emotional relations in the domestic sphere did snapshot photography gain such a poignant and important role in the chronicling of sentimental family histories.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  In other words, Kodak and their advertising campaigns created a desire and need for snapshot cameras and then provided a fairly affordable means of people being able to own their own snapshot camera with which to make images of their own.  This can be summed up nicely using the following extract “Nancy Martha West has shown, for example, that snapshooting was first associated with outdoor activities like biking, skiing, and picnicking (West 2000).  Only after Kodak began to advertise snapshot cameras as a means of documenting family life and emotional relations in the domestic sphere did snapshot photography gain such a poignant and important role in the chronicling of sentimental family histories.”  (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  This statement is further backed up by “A camera did not have a place in the everyday life of people prior to the Kodak camera.”(RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).

This “Kodak Culture” still prevails today , however it is not just using the Kodak brand to create images, this is outlined in the paper “Snapshot Media: “Kodak Culture” in the 21st Century” written by Risto Sarvas, Asko Lehmuskallio, Vilma Lehtinen, Jaana Näsänen, Sami Vihavainen , “Our starting point is the so-called “Kodak culture”, which is concept describing film-based snapshot photography. Currently snapshot photography is digital and networked, and ever more mixed with other forms of media production. This is why we extend the traditional “Kodak culture” to include all forms of media and related services used for capturing, storing, distributing, and showing user generated content. This array of user-generated media we term snapshot media.” (. 2013. . [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 10 April 2013]. )  In these terms the Kodak culture can span the 21st Century and include all types of creating snapshots, including images taken on all matter of devices and created by use of such applications as Instagram and those viewed on social media sites like Facebook.  Just because the means in which the image is captured has changed from that of film photography to digital as the predominant method of shooting an image, there is still a culture of taking images to document everyday life.  People still want and need to share their daily life with friends and relatives, document important parts of their life and share in happy events.  This can be seen with the rise of Instagram, launched in 2010 and now having over 100 Million monthly users and as many as 40 Million uploaded images per day (statistics courtesy of Press Center • Instagram. 2013. Press Center • Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 04 April 2013]. )



Image Making And Editing


As I started to touch upon previously, the shift in technology has changed how we take images, process images and share images.  There was a step away from the daguerreotype to other forms of image taking and making, from medium format to 35mm, the introduction of Polaroid which was probably the first “instant image” maker similar to the digital camera in the way the image was taken and viewed quite quickly afterwards, (although not totally successful, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008 is notable when discussing technological developments) then the invention of stills film cameras which led to digital cameras and now many devices containing cameras (think of mobile phones, computers, ipods, ipads etc) and that is just in the image making sector.  When we look further into technological developments we need to also look at the processes which have changed how images are developed, gone are the chemicals, plates, dark rooms and long waits for prints, and in come the PC software’s designed for editing instead, the likes of Photoshop, once a specialist, expensive software, now readily available to most people.  In that spectrum we can also consider the development of photographic applications that run on mobile phones such as Instagram, marketed on its own website as being “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”  (Instagram. 2013. Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 04 April 2013].)  Instagram is a photo editing application that you can access on “Apple” devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod and then upload to your social media sites to share with friends.  With this shift in technology and the speed and “instantness” with which we can share images, it is no wonder that digital technology has taken over as the preferred means of “snapshot” photography.  There is an argument running that mobile phone cameras cannot be professed as cameras as they are an addition to an already existing device.  “The camera phone, on the other hand, is a multi-purpose device, and capturing images is only one of its several functions. Second, because the camera phone is a general-purpose device, it cannot be optimised as a camera.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer).  However, because the device has a camera and is being used more and more in today’s everyday life as a snapshot maker, this argument can be seen as pretty much invalid.  The argument should be about the snapshot, and if the device can create an image that is able to be shared quickly and easily then, as far as it is concerned, the camera-phone is just as much of a valid means of creating the image as a more traditional camera.







Sharing Images


I believe that this instant-ness in sharing images has changed the way photographs are created; from the subject through to the way we view them.  In the book “The Photograph as Contemporary Art” it is stated that “What remains absent in such images, however, are the things we perceive as culturally taboo or mundane” (Charlotte Cotton. 2009. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. 2nd Edition. UK. Thames and Hudson) Due to the ease of sharing and the popularity of social media, the need for people to belong to groups and sub groups, to be able to subscribe to certain cultures and appear ‘cool’ to their peers there has been a rise in photographing the mundane such as coffee from Starbucks, where there is a perceived ideal of the brand that people want to be associated with to making images of food, not only at home but in restaurants too.  The Guardian recently ran an article about photographing food where “in Alicante in Spain, the restaurant group Grupo Gourmet, which owns the much-praised Taberna del Gourmet and Monastrell restaurants, has started running a “Fotografia para foodies” course on the basis that, if people are going to take pictures, they might as well do it properly. Chef-patron María José San Román says that the worst thing about bloggers taking pictures in her restaurants is that, if they don’t do a good job, or if they do it after eating half the food, the result looks terrible.” (TREVOR BAKER. 2013. Is it ok to photograph your food? The Guardian. [Online newspaper] (11 March 2013)) In a world where sharing images is such a common-place activity it is interesting to see how businesses are accepting this need and are willing to help out and run these sorts of lasses, not only then do they get the best possible image of their brand/food out into the open but the customer benefits too in learning a skill which can be called upon again and again.  There is an awareness of audience and, as is implied above, there is nothing worse than a bad image being made and then circulated, as the businesses image takes a knock.












Photo Editing, Technology and the Home Today


While looking at modern day image making and creating we must look at the home, and photograph editing in general which was mentioned above when talking about Instagram, as many images created on devises now are digital the means of editing and producing them has changed from that of film photography .  Instead of taking photos with a film camera and then dropping the film off at a photo lab for developing, printing and finishing we have now stepped away from this and because of the format images are made on, we can now edit at home.  With this in mind it is worth remembering that digital photography and the home is a topic that is both broad and covers many different functions From in-device photo editing software, to software that was once only available to professionals (for example Photoshop) due to cost and the rise of software available for free on the internet it seems that there is a way for everyone to control their own editing and appearance of taken images.  Part of the appeal of Instagram is the ability to apply simple filters to the taken image and therefore edit the appearance before sharing.  With the costs of photo-editing being so accessible, most people can now produce an image that is to their standards and show things that they want shown in a way that can strengthen the way in which they are perceived one the image is shared .  This can then link back to the discussion around the family album that was had earlier.

Technological developments that have taken place have seen a shift in how we create images, from the daguerreotype, a limited-to-one edition image made onto a metal plate progressing to film of several kinds, to the first kind of ‘instant’ image of the Polaroid, then shifting towards digital with Stills Film Cameras and into what we now have with digital cameras readily available.  It was written that “the Polaroid instant camera was a predecessor of the digital camera.  Like the instant camera, the digital camera does not require an external development service in order for the photographer to see the captured image.  However, digital photography eliminates also the need for a disposable capture medium –the film.  Digital photographs are often stored on a separate medium, the memory card but the same memory card can be used over and over again.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)  Moving image capture away from the “disposable camera medium” has helped with the depletion of the traditional family album, where once, images were taken and made into objects they are now taken and edited as a digital mass of code and then published to social media to share with friends and family, emailed to chosen recipients, or kept as files on the home computer, or now virtually (Cloud storage) away from the computer but still as accessible.

There has always been an element of “truth” or “dis-truth” in photography, the saying “the camera never lies” is often disproved and in so many ways the images we include in our family albums and the ones we share to friends through social media should be seen as being a carefully “edited” version of our lives and ourselves rather than being a dis-truth “Home photographers (I,e snapshooters) hardly ever take photographs of friends or family members arguing, painful experiences or unhappy people, and if relations or situations change after a photograph has been taken, the unwanted photographs are removed from frames or albums.” (RISTO SARVAS/DAVID M. FROLICH. 2011. From Snapshot to Social Media- The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography. London. Springer)The same goes for image taking today, with digital cameras being able to take so many more images and images being able to be reviewed so easily, deleted and re shot, we are never given the full picture surrounding that one shared image.  This whole idea is illustrated perfectly by Catherine Zuromskis in “Photography, Theoretical Snapshots” where she is talking about “the image itself often offers a distintly rosier and inaccurate vision of the events portrayed.  A week-long family car trip marred by arguments and tears can still produce the perfet portrait of the entire family, harmonious and smiling, in front of the Grand Canyon.” (JJ LONG, ANDREA NOBLE & EDWARD WELCH. 2009. Photography, Theoretical Snapshots. New York. Routledge).  In this way, we may see the perfect image but not understand fully the background to it.  This too then becomes an important factor in how we are viewed, and with this editing process, along with the ability to review and re-shoot images we are still able to control how we appear to others.  As a viewer we should be aware that the images we are presented with may not tell the full truth about that person or give the fullest background to that person.  Even with such seemingly quick shooting and sharing of images there is normally a thought process behind them.




In conclusion I feel that the term “snapshot” has changed over time, both through technological advances in how images are made and through how the images are shared.  I do think, though, that the Family Album, although not in the traditional sense of the word, still exists today as the images we choose to share and display through social media to our friends and family.  However, the topic of snapshots and social media is vast, only a small element of which has been covered in this review, there is so much more that can be considered such as the subjects in the images and the relationships of the family, artists who re-create the feel of snapshot photography (the likes of Corrine Day spring to mind, her snapshots being created for fashion purposes), the rise of certain types of photographs in social media (for example the “selfie”),  the rhetoric of the family photographs, the similarities between captured occasions that we all experience, the emotions attached to images, photos that act as remembrance, photographs as memories and whether we remember something because there is an image made of the event and the conversations surrounding snapshot images and whether they truly are snapshots still.

You Are Here! Form and data collecting!

I am currently working on a project looking at Pontypool, the map of the area and memories associated with places in and around the local area.  I am asking people about their favourite place/location and memories they have of the place in order to create a new kind of map.  In order to capture the data I am asking people to fill out a simple form (below) or pop in to the space we are currently residing in, (Stall 21 in Pontypool Market, (also known as Mellor Management/The Incubator) to give us your favourite places and share memories and put your mark onto the map!

If you can’t pop in for whatever reason, the form below can be filled in and will be sent directly to myself to add data for you!

Thank you for your time and information!

You can follow the project at or,or  pop and visit us at Stall 21 (Mellor Management/The Incubator) in the market

The project so far…

You Are Here Mas Intervention

Putting Your Mark On The Town (Map)

Don’t forget to check back regularly for updates on how this project is shaping up! 😀

Voyeurism ad Surveillance – How my project became the Fb Project

I shared with you my ideas about this project in this post and after a lot of thought and experimenting with different ideas I now have a concrete project that I am working on.

I spoke in the last post about Voyeurism, Surveillance, Big Brother and social networking, with ideas to investigate what people share on-line and how people disregard the privacy settings, meaning that whatever they share is not only viewable to their friends but also anyone else who happens to stumble upon their page.  I was quite set on this idea but as time has gone on I have now been thinking about the manner in which we share data and how social networking breeds sharing (and over-sharing) of information we might not necessarily have meant to share to everyone.

I have started to look at the methods we go through when sharing information onto social network sites, in specific, Facebook.  I chose Facebook as it is a common denominator among myself and my friends, there are very few people I know who don’t hold an account.  When looking at this I found that a quarter (approx) of Facebook users fall into the 24 – 34 age bracket (in the UK) and the figure for that group stands at 8178000 (taken from SocialBakers website) which in itself is astonishing.  When you think about it, these figures seem to make sense, this is the age group that first had Facebook (launched 9 years ago, wikipedia ) and it is the age group that have embraced new technology and can understand the potential in social networking, whether it is to keep in contact with friends or use as a tool to market yourself or even play games.

My thoughts and research led me to creating a new Facebook to see what information I needed to give and what information you are likely to share when asked.  I took screen shots of each “Information Field”.  I wasn’t totally aware of why I was doing this but at the time it seemed like a good idea.  I have since gone back to them and kept looking at them and wondering what I could do with them, questioning how we share things, why we share things and the means we have to share things.  It struck me that sharing information on-line was quick and easy, something that we have to do when making purchases, visiting websites and has become part of normal life, it seemed people just clicked and shared because it was so easy.  This train of thought led me back to the book idea, what if I challenge how we share information?  Take it back a step and make it a physical action that requires more than just a click of a button.

I am now looking at those screenshots and formulating an idea which turns Facebook into an actual physical book experience where the viewer of the book is asked to fill in the information required (with a pen or by printing out and sticking photos in etc).  Would they be willing to share the information if they had to think about what they were doing and go through physical motions to do so ?  Will it make people more aware of what they share and who can see it?

Hopefully this project will raise questions of personal security on-line and make people think about what is shared and who with and even the way we share information.  I have always been careful about what is shared and who with, I don’t want my info to be shared with 100 of my friend’s friends and then shared with their friends etc.  I also don’t want this project to be a shocking account of what can be viewed on-line, or become a campaign about internet sharing and safety but I do want to question the means of sharing and how and why we share.

“You Are Here” maps intervention.

Busy collating all the data I collected from my “You Are Here” maps intervention on friday 15th March onto one spreadsheet and seeing where I can go with it all! 😀 Feel free to add your own mark to the map by downloading and filling in a form!  You can drop the completed form off to the Mellor Management space at the top of Pontypool Market or e-mail me your response!!! If you have any queries feel free to email me –


 Maps Project form_edited-2


I have just taken 2 rolls of film!!!!  One black and white medium format (120mm) film in my Holga and one 35mm colour in my Diana.  This might not be much to most people but to me this is amazing as I don’t really take photos any more, I like to see what I do as ‘Creating Images’.  Hopefully I can develop them tomorrow and at least get contact sheets made so I can see what I have got and if they are any good and share them on here!  These images I have just taken are experiments for my new project about Voyeurism and Surveillance.  Ideally I would love to take the images with a Polaroid camera (like this or this  ) as I think that the photographs they produce, both in quality and feel would fit right in with my project but for the moment I have taken photos with 120mm and 35mm just to see what effects I can get from these before, perhaps, purchasing *another* camera!

Voyeurism and Surveillance

Our new project, Voyeurism and Surveillance, got given to us a short while ago.  I had been toying with the idea of a Big Brother themed idea, because to me Big Brother is the bridge between the both, it has a voyeuristic feel to it – a social experiment where total strangers enter a house and live together whilst every movement is captured on CCTV and broadcast for the general public to ‘enjoy’ as a tv show, whilst covering the surveillance aspect through the house-mates movements and conversations are picked up and monitored as an experiment.

This moved on to more modern ways of voyeurism and surveillance, the internet and social networking.  It is crazy to see what people upload to social networking sites and what you can find out about someone due to what the put on their ‘Profile Page’ –  a page that tells you about them, their date of birth, family members, where they work, the area they live, the music they like and even hobbies, interests, sexual orientation, whatever they want to share, you, as the viewer, can potentially see.

I originally started looking at people’s profiles that had lots of information viewable (not my actual friends, strangers profiles) and thought about using information that I could find out about that person to create a book about them and all this “found” info but am still unsure of this as I don’t really feel that there is much of a message for the viewer of my work to see.  I did think about internet security and how, even with things in place such as ‘Privacy Settings’ , people didn’t seem to are about what they were sharing and wanted to make people more aware of their internet security and to raise the question’s “Why share?” and “Is it necessary to share this much information?” .  I am still thinking along those lines, and still want to make a book but I’m thinking of pushing this whole concept and idea further in terms of audience participation.  Changing people’s thoughts about internet security and information sharing may not come from just seeing a book full of information I have collected from other people’s profiles, it may come from the processes we go through in sharing information over the internet, it’s so quick and easy to type in something and click a button that we rarely think about it any more, but what if we went back to pens and paper to share information and it became a more physical and thought about process?