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My 1976 Selfie



It was a hot summer day in 1976 that I took my first “selfie.” I was in a small dorm room located on a community college campus in East Texas. 

I was taking a summer photography class and had been lent a camera by the photography Instructor. It was a box with a mirror, and I had to hold it steady and long to have the light come into it and the picture engraved on the negative.

I stood in front of the mirror in my room and held the box close to my body as I looked up and waited for the image to be taken. I couldn’t move and didn’t want to breathe.  It’s not the same as today when you can put your cellular phone up and just snap. If you don’t get it right, you delete it and take another one.  No, this one was different. You didn’t know how the image would come out in the darkroom until you processed the film and put the paper into the water bath of chemicals to see the output that would magically appear! 

That summer, I took a lot of pictures, most of my nieces and nephews. I was amazed at the clarity and expressions I captured. I really liked my selfie. It showed me as the smart-ass I was in school.  I was a rebel of the seventies. I thought I knew everything, and no one could tell me otherwise. I captured my rebellious youth and independence. 

I really didn’t know as much as I thought looking back in hindsight. I only imagined most things that weren’t at all the way they indeed were. Regardless I captured my image that showed who I was in that moment in time like people do today, only more frequently due to technology.

I had someone tell me that this generation invented the selfie (maybe the name), but I have to differ since I have my own from 1976. Many others, photographers of the past, have theirs to prove the existence of a long-ago sensation of taking one’s own self-portrait. The difference is with the instrument, be it a cellular phone, camera, or paintbrush.  It is the concept of immortalizing oneself with an image from a moment in time. 

I actually like mine. 

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