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PODCAST: Photography and the Smartphone
  • PODCAST: Photography and the Smartphone

    Smartphones have become the default camera of choice around the world. With the rise of social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat, we're taking photos of everything from our morning coffee to the evening sunset and endlessly sharing them with each other. It seems like a revolutionary era for the photograph. But is it? ....

    ...the stereograph. The identical double images were popular in the mid-19th to early 20th century. "They were mostly landscapes, but also genre scenes, pictures of cats, dogs, flowers many of the same types of images you would see on Instagram today, and people [in the late 1800s and the start of the 20th century] -- would enjoy them, and collect them," said Cronin. As for sharing, people had flattering photographs taken and mailed them to each other via little portrait cards known as cartes de visite.

    ... others believe the selfie shares qualities inherent to virtually any kind of portrait photography, past or present. Everyone wants to present themselves as they imagine they look — whether through a physical posture, make-up or filter effects.

    Even photo studios of the 19th century and early 20th century provided backdrops, clothes and props for customers to use. Parents have always chosen baby photos and school pictures that conform to their idealized view of how their children should appear. And who hasn't taken a glance in the mirror before getting a passport picture taken?

    We select the most flattering images of ourselves — that's why visual culture expert Thy Phu sees every photo portrait as a kind of selfie.