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The iPhone 4 and the growing art of self-photography


This little piece over on the New York Times Fashion and Style page is only tangentially related to our subject at hand, which is that the onset of the iPhone 4 and its front-facing camera has put a spotlight on the growing art of self-photography and the casually narcissistic tendencies that drive it. I still found it very interesting, both as a series of tips on how to make some fascinating self-photographs, as well as a little meditation on what it means to learn that cameras are slowly turning around on their owners. When cameras were first created, the photographer was almost removed from the equation -- viewers of photographs were given direct views of subjects.

As time has gone on, the photographer has become more instrumental and important in the camera's life. At this point, in 2010, most of the pictures taken today are taken specifically to be shared on Facebook or Flickr -- here's me at the club, here's my new shirt, here's my and my girlfriend, and so on. Instead of looking through the photographer's eyes at the world, the iPhone 4's camera looks through the photographer's eyes ... back at the photographer.

Maybe that's too serious for the Fourth of July weekend (and if nothing else, the NYT piece offers a great bit of advice for being on camera anywhere: "smile"). But it is interesting that, as front-facing cameras become more popular (and even technology like Microsoft's Kinect, which is basically a camera watching you, the player), the art of photography itself is changing. Going out and "taking pictures" may eventually come to mean "taking pictures of me."

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