I was a #selfie pioneer

I took my first selfie in 1981. It was a time barren of instant photo sharing, but I pressed on with my crappy Instamatic anyway just to see what would happen. I learned immediately that the flashcube would leave me seeing spots for twenty minutes. It took another two weeks to finish the roll and another week to wait for the film to be developed to learn that the flash would also wash out my face. And of course my simple camera couldn’t focus that close. Such was the state of the selfie art.


Thanks to my short memory, I tried again a couple years later and got the same result. Now I want to go back in time and try to talk my young self out of those glasses and that hairstyle — and thank my mom for painting my room. Those mustard-yellow walls were oppressive.


I even tried to be artistic with my selfies. I failed.


I finally learned to hold the camera as far from my face as I could. I still temporarily blinded myself, but at least my face wasn’t as washed out. And I had grown out of my awkward years at last!


That was the end of my selfie explorations…until I got a smartphone 26 years later. Then the game was on, because everybody on Facebook needs to see the look-my-hair-is-sort-of-long-and-by-the-way-I’m-running-on-three-hours-of-sleep selfie!


And my online friends were trembling in anticipation to see the OMFG-what-a-terrible-day selfie.


And of course there’s the does-this-shirt-go-with-these-pants? selfie. (The consensus? Yes, but c’mon, dude, be more adventurous with your wardrobe.)


And then there’s the classic hey-everyone-don’t-I-rock-this-suit? selfie. When I posted this to Facebook, the joint just blew up. “OMG!” everybody said. OMG, indeed.


But most of my selfies are private, showing my life’s inner workings. Today, for the first time, I’m going to share some of these intimate moments with the whole Internet. Here’s the hey-girlfriend-I-picked-up-the-rental-minivan-for-our-trip selfie.


Then there’s the sorry-this-is-out-of-focus-but-here-I-am-wearing-the-shirt-you-got-me-for-my-birthday selfie.


And how can I forget the hey-Mom-I’m-home-sick-but-my-Doctor-Who-shirt-makes-me-feel-better selfie?


But my favorite selfie happened totally by mistake. It’s actually a video selfie! My iPhone’s camera was set to front-camera video mode when I wanted it on back-camera photo mode. I was not amused.

I took a still of this, converted it to black and white, and made it my Facebook profile photo. “You look badass!” was the first comment. Score!! Because isn’t ego inflation what the modern selfie is all about? And to think I was among the first.



Captured: Reflected in the bulbs

Reflected in the bulbs

In the last two weeks of 2013 I shot five rolls of film: two black-and-white and three color; four 35mm and one 120. I shot my Pentax ME, my Yashica-D, my Konica Autoreflex T3, my Nikon N65, and my Nikon F2. Oh, and I also shot half a pack of film in my new old Polaroid Colorpack II, for good measure. I’ll post about that eventually. I had a great time with every camera but the N65, with which I shot my family’s Christmas celebration. They can attest to the harsh words that escaped my lips when the stupid thing wouldn’t focus or wouldn’t fire at all because it didn’t trust me to know what I was doing with the available light. Argh! Anyone want an N65? Free to a good home. Warning: it’s a dreadful camera.

The F2 trusts me. It let me shoot this shot indoors, handheld, on relatively slow T-Max 100 film. There I am, reflected in the basket of colorful glass bulbs I keep on my coffee table every Christmas. Several old cameras lie about my house awaiting their test roll, and I’ll get to them – but in 2014 I will keep film in the F2 at all times. I want to get to know it better. And so I’ll be shooting with it a lot more.