What is the World’s First Selfie?

Selfies are now a common occurrence in our daily lives. They allow us to capture memories and share them with others. However, it may come as a surprise that the first-ever selfie was taken more than 200 years ago, way before the invention of front-facing cameras or smartphones. This shows that the desire to capture oneself in a photograph has been around for a long time.

World’s First Selfie

A self-portrait is an artwork created by an artist of themselves. Self-portraits have been a popular form of expression in the art for centuries, with many famous artists, including Vincent van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, creating self-portraits. In 1839, Robert Cornelius captured the very first photographic self-portrait. This means that he took a photo of himself using a camera. This was a significant moment in history because it marked the beginning of a new era in photography.

Robert Cornelius is credited with inventing the first photographic process in the United States. Cornelius was born in Philadelphia in 1809 and grew up working in his family’s lamp-making business. In 1831, he opened a lamp-making business of his own, but his interest in photography led him to experiment with various photographic processes.

The image displayed above features a good-looking man with disheveled hair, which is recognized as the first-ever selfie taken. The man who captured this photograph inscribed the words, “The first light picture ever taken” in the background.

In 1839, Cornelius set up his camera in the back of his family’s store in Philadelphia and took a self-portrait. The image was captured using a daguerreotype process, which required a long exposure time. To take the photograph, Cornelius had to remove the lens cap, run into the frame, and then replace the lens cap before the exposure was complete.

The world’s first selfie had a significant impact on photography and the art world. Prior to the invention of the photographic process, portraits were expensive and time-consuming to create and were typically only accessible to the wealthy. The invention of the photographic process allowed for portraits to be created more quickly and inexpensively, making them accessible to a wider audience.

The “Selfie” Term

The term “selfie” was first coined by Nathan Hope on September 13th, 2002, in a post on the Dr. Karl Self-Serve Science Forum. He used the word to describe a photo he took of himself after falling and injuring his lower lip.

With the rise of smartphones, the use of the term became more widespread. In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary named “selfie” as the word of the year due to its increased popularity and usage.

Over the years, the selfie has evolved from the early self-portraits taken by Robert Cornelius to the modern-day selfie, which is typically taken with a smartphone camera. The rise of social media has also contributed to the popularity of selfie, with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat making it easy for people to share their selfies with others.

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