In Support of the Selfie. June 21, 2016

imageI am seriously thinking of getting a selfie stick. Don’t laugh. I didn’t think I would ever want one either. But something has made me change my mind.

Mom posted this picture to Facebook on June 19th, a day after flying back from Grandma’s house in Arizona. Well, not this picture exactly. The original was quite dark. (One of Mom’s former students saw the post on Facebook and doctored it up for her. Isn’t that nice?) I can imagine Mom and Grandma on the couch together, maybe a few giggles, trying to get the shot just right. When I spoke with Mom yesterday, she said that this was a “joint effort.” She held the tablet while Grandma pressed the button.

Selfies can be silly and vain. And I’ll admit, I find it pretty amusing to watch someone take pictures of themselves over and over again. But, when there are two or more people taking a selfie, it gets a lot more interesting. I would definitely go to a show of group selfie photography. I wonder if anyone has ever studied it as a form of photography in its own right?

A group selfie is about people sharing a moment. There is this process of huddling together, sometimes with a bit of acrobatic manoeuvring to make sure the shot lines up properly. “No, guys, we need to get closer! Lean in, lean in!” It’s almost always fun, forcing people to shed their notions of personal space, somewhat like playing Twister (“from Milton Bradley!”). There is a sense of closeness and connectivity, and the camera is close enough to capture it on everyone’s faces.

Being close is important. In a group selfie, faces fill the shot and there are no distracting backgrounds. Mom said she thinks she will value this picture more than some shot of her and her mom taken out in the yard. I know what she means. How many family photos are taken on the last day of a visit, in a driveway in front of a garage or someone’s car? I have my share of pictures like that.

Those driveway pictures say, “We got together on this date, and this is what we looked like at the time.” A group selfie is more likely to say, “We got together on this date, and this is who we were at the time.

I mentioned to Mom that Grandma looks a bit gussied up- did she do that for the shot? “No, that’s just the way she looked that day…” Grandma smiles from her eyes, and you can see it here. And I know that smile of Mom’s. It’s one of happiness and contentment, and a just a little mischievousness. Seeing her smile makes me smile. I really love this shot.