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You Love Selfies? Let's Trace Back To Where It All Begun

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In this generation, selfies are on the list of most loved things. The world has taught us to document every split second of our lives and shove them at people’s faces, on social media. Every second, I wager my money, a camera clicks inviting a fresh snap taken.

I remember this one time I was belted at the back seat of a stammering old bus on my way home, and this mid-twenties girl sat next to me. She kept outstretching an arm across my face, for a selfie. I was busy reading Jeffry Archer’s ’11th Commandment’ on my phone, but the girl clearly had other plans for me.

The buggy sleeves of her blue fur coat kept dangling a few inches from my face. And if it wasn’t for the sweet scent that my nose picked, I’d have slapped her hand. I tilted my head to look at her, and my eyes questioned her- really sweetheart? The luscious pouted lips coated with wet red lipstick responded, yeah, every time is selfie time!

You may argue you aren’t a rabid fan of selfies, but look me in the eye and lie you don’t love photography, pictures of either yourself or beautiful sceneries you come across.

Every day, someone somewhere angles a leg, juts that hip with hour-glass curves, and smiles. I bet you, a few moments ago, someone’s camera shutter just released. Someone probably has smile creases around their eyes right now, facing a camera. Your neighbour may just be, at this moment, erasing a poorly taken photo and handing the phone back to their kid, saying, “Try not to shake this time, and ask me to move if the lighting sucks”
We all don’t want to forget memories as quickly as a picture sketched on water, so what better way to freeze them in time than through photography?

But have you ever stopped to think of the lengths the history of cameras goes back to? Have a seat, and fetch your notebook. Let’s learn.

The first camera, dubbed camera obscura, was put into use in 1604. The name translates to a dark room in Latin, probably because it was as large as a room. For a snap, you had to walk into the dark room. Our ancestors must’ve knocked on the door first, just like we do with toilets, to be sure space was free.

Camera Obscura’s images were inverted, and only visual while you were in the room. You couldn’t go home with a physical snap and hang it on your wall, or have a crystal clear one in your gallery and shoot it to your lover with the caption, ‘all you see is yours, babe’.

We currently have portable cameras, and it’s interesting to appreciate that the idea of a portable camera was dreamed up by Johann Zahn, though he never lived to see this reality. The first portable camera came 150 years later, and if Johann comes back to life, he’ll take a sip of his favourite drink, or take a long suck at his cigar and bellow with conviction, “See? I told ya it was possible!”

To get to the professional cameras we have in this age, and the high pixels cameras of our smartphones, an evolution took place.

From camera obscura to daguerreotypes and calotypes, to dry plates, to Kodak and films, to 35mm, to TLRs and SLRs, to instant cameras, to automation, and then digital cameras.

Quite a journey, huh?
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