They are for vanity, usually flattering, and are casual in nature (or made to appear casual). "Selfie" typically refers to self-portrait photos taken with the camera held at arm's length, as opposed to those taken by using a self-timer or remote. A selfie, however, may include multiple subjects. As long as the photo is being taken by one of the subjects featured, it is considered selfie.
A crewman of a German, World War 1, DFW C.V aircraft takes a picture with a camera attached to a wing-strut, 1916-1918
In 1839, Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, produced a daguerreotype of himself in which ended up as one of the first photographs of a person. Because the process was slow he was able to uncover the lens, run into the shot for a minute or more, and then replace the lens cap. He recorded on the back "The first light picture ever taken. 1839." A copy of his "first selfie" graces his tombstone at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In 1900, the debut of the portable Kodak Brownie box camera led to photographic self-portraiture becoming a more widespread technique. The method was usually by mirror and stabilizing the camera either on a nearby object or on a tripod while framing via a viewfinder at the top of the box. Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, at the age of 13, was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. In the letter that accompanied the photograph, she wrote, "I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling."
During the 1970s, photographic self-portraiture flourished when affordable instant cameras birthed a new medium of self-expression, capturing uncharacteristically personal insight into otherwise conservative individuals and allowing amateurs to learn photography with immediate results.This practice transitioned naturally across to digital cameras as they supplanted film cameras around the turn of the millennium.
On 13 September 2002, the first known use of the word selfie in any paper or electronic medium appeared in an Australian internet forum – Karl Kruszelnicki's 'Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum' – in a post by Nathan Hope. Although Hope later dismissed the notion that he coined the term, describing it as "something that was just common slang at the time, used to describe a picture of yourself", he wrote the following:
"Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie."
The concept of uploading group self-taken photographs to the internet, although with a disposable camera and not a smartphone, dates to a webpage created by Australians in September 2001, including photos taken in the late 1990s (captured by the Internet Archive in April 2004).
The Sony Ericsson Z1010 mobile phone, released in late 2003, introduced the concept of a front-facing camera which could be used for selfies and video calls. These cameras became common on mobile devices, such as the iPhone 4 (2010).
In 2011, the Instagram photo-sharing and social networking service introduced auto filters, allowing users to easily alter their photos.In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.