On The Side Ideograph


Updated 07 Oct, 2015 04:14pm
When pop singer Komal Rizvi paid a visit to ailing philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi in July, she chose to click a selfie in order to mark the occasion. The photograph – showing an exuberant Rizvi with an uncomfortable Edhi lying in an intensive care unit – was voraciously circulated on social media and was dubbed ‘the worst selfie ever’. Here, the Herald traces the evolution of the ‘selfie’ — picked as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013.


Details of The Arnolfini Portrait
Details of The Arnolfini Portrait

Artist Jan Van Eyck famously includes his self-portrait in the convex mirror of The Arnolfini Portrait; the careful eye may be able to detect Eyck’s inconspicuous reflection in the work.


Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk is widely accepted as a self-portrait. It is believed that da Vinci drew it at the age of 60.


Robert Cornelius
Robert Cornelius

Chemist Robert Cornelius’s takes a self-shot photograph which is believed to be the first self-portrait photo in recorded history.


Cameras with self-timers enter the market, enabling the operator of the camera to join in with a group of people being photographed or simply photograph themselves.


In November 1966, Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin Jr – the second person to set foot on the moon – becomes the first to take a selfie in space during the Gemini 12 mission.


The first selfie stick, called a “telescopic extender”, for compact, handheld cameras is invented. It was patented in the United States in 1983.


Shar J-SH40 — the world's first camera phone
Shar J-SH40 — the world's first camera phone

The first camera phone hits the markets. Sharp J-SH40, is launched in Japan. The product flops, never to be introduced outside the country.


Australian, Nathan Hope, invents the word ‘selfie’ when he posts a self-shot photograph of himself on an online forum saying, “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”



During Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt click a selfie that goes viral on social media and is met by immense criticism.


By September, a total of 12 people lose their lives while trying to take selfies; selfies are dubbed deadlier than shark attacks.

— Compiled from Portraiture by Shearer West and media reports