In Defense of the Selfie-Stick

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  • March 31, 2015

In the ultimate move of “so exclusive we’re cooler for it,” hip music fests Lollapalooza and Coachella have banned selfie-sticks. from concert grounds. Now, before we even consider how absurd that press release must have been in draft form, why even institute this rule? Realistically, with this regulation, you are impacting a sub-section of a sub-section of the population. However, I come forward now as a member of that exclusive group. Yes, I own a selfie-stick, and yes, I use it to take pictures of myself.


So What If I Use a Selfie-Stick?


I am an avid photographer, and I even do it a bit on the side as a hobby (and get paid for it). I love to take photos of other people, but when it comes to documenting my appearance at certain events, I often take on ghost-qualities. Yes, I was there at the party, and I can prove it with the photos I took of my friends and turned over to Facebook. But no, I cannot document my own appearance there. Why? Because I do not want to impose on other people to document my life. Some people like taking photos, other people don’t. So why should I force my passion on someone else? I know, everyone has a camera on their phone, but a good portion of these camera-wielding citizens also take vertical videos (but that’s another topic for another time).


So I Bought A Selfie-Stick


I got tired of never going on vacation or appearing at social functions, so I bought a selfie-stick, 5 years ago. That’s right, I bought a stick long before the selfie was the word of the year. I bought for the point-and shoot I carried around always on my person. I bought so I could document a trips with my girlfriend (my now fiancee). We were able to document our time together in moments when no one was around to even consider bothering. And we looked great. What I did my point-and-shoot soap box was, however, not even my idea. I bought it on Amazon after seeing a number of people talk on Photography forums about my same predicament of “always the photographer, never the photographed.” And you know what, we weren’t even the first people to come up with selfies.


The Selfie Is Historic


Photo credit: Robert Cornelius’ self-portrait: The First Ever “Selfie” (1839).

The accessibility of photography in the past 10 years has brought the selfie to the forefront of public discussion, but it is, by no means, a fad. The selfie dates back to the earliest days of photography itself. Back in the early days of daguerreotype, Robert Cornelius took a minute away from chemistry bad-assery to snap a moment in his life. Ladies swooned, and he documented a moment of swagger that would have, otherwise, been lost to history. And he is not alone.


Colin Powell, another bad ass, took a brief moment to capture his life and pass on a valuable lesson of perseverance and style to generations that would follow him.


Selfies (And Sticks) Are Here To Stay


Remember that moment from the Oscars last year when a selfie was the most retweeted image of all time? Remember how spontaneous Bradley Cooper was in his framing. Great moment. But…

If he had a selfie stick, maybe he would have captured Oscar Winners Angelina Jolie and Jared Leto. But no, sorry, your talent was not worth documenting. Wait, were you there to begin with?

All kidding aside, selfies are here to stay because we want to document our lives, but we do not want to inconvenience other people to do it. We also want to own how our lives (and our images) are frames, so we will continue to look for control of that, through the lenses of our iPhones.

Is it embarrassing to use a selfie-stick. Yes. Is it even worse to impose on someone else to stop what they are doing for a mini-portrait session? Yes, times two. Is it soul-crushing to ask a complete stranger to document an important moment in my life and then screw it up with an out-of-focus snap? Yes, even more so.

So, I will not be attending Coachella this year, one because I will get kicked out of hipster-fest if I bring my self-portraiture tool, and two, because without it, even if I was in attendance, you would never know it.



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Merrymaker, runner, and supervisor of social media; passionate about food, photography, triathlons, ukuleles, and Bigfoot.

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