The ever-so-slightly annoying but equally catchy song #Selfie by DJing duo ‘The Chainsmokers’ is currently languishing just outside the UK top 20, and along with being a massive hit both here and in the US, the song undoubtedly marks the coming of age of the photographic self portrait. It’s perhaps most at home on the social media platform Instagram, where #selfie is heading strongly towards the million mark.

Whatever you feel about the digital dominance of the selfie, here we take a look at the backstory of the photos being snapped by everyone from Rihanna to President Obama and share a few tips on striking the best pose.

A brief history of the selfie

Speaking to the BBC last year, Dr Michael Pritchard said that the first ever selfies are likely to have been taken in the 1880s when shutters with self-timers came available. Though Robert Cornelius is widely credited with taking the first self portrait in 1839, this was most likely with the assistance of at least one third party, otherwise he’d have missed the shot.

Since then, self portraits have been plastered on the front of Christmas cards season after festive season, become a weekend hobby of sorts for teenage couples hanging out in photobooths and then, with the arrival of Myspace in the 00s we began perfecting our poses and snapping ourselves for our social media profiles. Finally, the phrase selfie was named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary in 2013 (

How to take a good selfie: 3 top tips

There are a few different types of selfie; the posed group shot, the from above solo snap that kindly disguises any double chin and then of course there’s the #belfie, which requires another set of advice altogether. For now, start with these top tips to improve your selfie images on smartphones.

1) Ditch your reverse camera. The resolution when you hit the spin button on your camera is rarely as good and can make your shots go grainy. Instead, turn your phone round and tap your finger on the image of your face to signal to your smartphone that you’re its focal point.

2) Some celebs swear that hitting the flash button improves their skintone but natural light is often more flattering, particularly the subtlety of just before sunset or sunrise. If the sun’s out of sight, stand near an artificial light source and snap without flash.

3) Find the perfect position, which just like Myspace in the early 00s is likely to be an arm’s length away from your face, though snapping straight on rather than from above will give you a more natural look. And, if you want it to be shake free, you might even seek the help of a tripod or a selfie app with a timer.

How to put selfies to good use

It might look a little odd to adorn your walls with selfies, unless they’re photos of the kids, but shared self portraits make excellent presents and the vintage variety are particularly special.
Do you have a special selfie that pre-dates the recent craze? We can print your photobooth snaps and Myspace photos straight on to canvas with an excellent quality finish, helping that photo of you and your BFF aged 14 to live on.

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