Selfie (/ˈsɛlfi/) – A photographic self-portrait

Most people think that selfies are a new phenomenon, but they have been around since the beginnings of photography. American photographer Robert Cornelius took a daguerreotype of himself in 1839.

As technology advanced, photographers, both professional and amateur, figured out new ways to take self-portraits. The mirror was a popular medium for the selfie. Even the ill-fated Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia took her own photo in a mirror in 1914.

Therefore, it was not surprising that the prolific Booth family photographer Henry Scripps Booth sought a way to take self-portraits. When using something like a Folding Kodak camera, Henry would have “tied a long string to the shutter release so that some member of the group could pull the string and thus make the exposure while remaining in the picture.” (Kodakery: A Journal for Amateur Photographers.)

Here are two examples of Henry’s technique in action:

Henry Booth and Carolyn Farr, titled, "'The End' (note the string) 1924," Pleasures of Life (POL 7.78.3)

Henry Booth and Carolyn Farr, titled, “‘The End’ (note the string) 1924,” Pleasures of Life (POL 7.78.3)

The Booth Family Fourth of July picnic, titled, "Thistle pulls the string – Indipendance [sic] Day 1925", Pleasures of Life, POL 8.13.1.

The Booth Family Fourth of July picnic, titled, “Thistle pulls the string – Indipendance [sic] Day 1925”, Pleasures of Life (POL 8.13.1)

Leslie Mio, Assistant Registrar

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3 thoughts on “Selfie (/ˈsɛlfi/) – A photographic self-portrait

  1. Would that be an eight-year old Elizabeth Wallace seated center front? Are her mother and father in the photo (if yes, where?). And how about one of two of Liz’s sisters (e.g., Ellen)?

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