I’ve always been fascinated by the tourism environment. When you’re traveling, you are sometimes within the orbit of the place you’re visiting, but you are sometimes in the tourist world, which has varying degrees of connection to the real place. I first became conscious of this in Europe in the 80s, when I saw some English tourists looking at small transparencies of Michelangelo sculptures on a slide viewing machine, rather than the actual objects themselves (which were in the same room). For a while I photographed tourists having pictures taken of themselves in front of famous sights, being interested in exactly which sights and views they found most important.
The advent of the selfie has added a whole new layer of complexity to this. In Yellowstone there were selfie-takers everywhere, and I once again began to photograph the act of photography, but this time just of selfies.
The classic tourist sights are prime grounds for finding excellent selfie-photos. Old Faithful:
Mt. Rushmore is the best, where people often try to line their heads up with the Presidents.
Notice the extreme stretch required to take a selfie which includes a crowd. This man needs a selfie stick.
Big city selfies:
the selfie as recording the act of genuflection before the symbol of The Donald.
One begins to wonder whether the rules of safe bison-selfie taking should also apply to modern architecture.
Selfie in the Park with George.
We have decided to participate in, rather than just observe this phenomenon. hence, the architecture-geek selfie:
the Architecture selfie.
And a new format, the reflected-selfie. This is a practical matter for us, as our primitive Windowsphones do not have lenses on the front, and so our normal handheld phone or camera selfies are rather hit-or-miss; the reflection gives us some degree of control.
The reflected blob selfie.
Perhaps the most interesting sub-genre is the bison-selfie. Recent years have seen the advent of the bison-selfie attack, where unwitting tourists venture too close to large, unpredictable wild animals, and sometimes inadvertently capture images of their imminent attack or demise. Here is an example:
but you can just Google bison selfie for many more. The bison-selfie has become a meme, and is being celebrated in the popular press:
Greta and I were well aware of the dangers of bison-selfies before we went to Yellowstone, so we took precautions. The following are a series of photos we took which illustrate Safe Bison-Selfie™ protocols:
Safe Bison-Selfie™ No.2. Dead bison are much safer than live bison.
Safe Bison-Selfie™ No. 3, in the Field Museum. Stuffed bison are even safer when they are in glass cases.
Safe Bison-Selfie™ No. 4: bronze bison are even safer than stuffed bison.
And finally, we arrive at what can be understood as a meta-selfie. That is, a photograph which is a selfie, but at the same time is photograph of a person taking a selfie, and in fact, is a photograph of a person taking a photograph of a person taking a picture of a selfie.
Our work here is done.
More selfie photos continue here.