Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hit Me With Your Selfie Stick

We have just returned from Prague: a city full of narrow streets and swarms of tourists. As we struggled to catch a site of the Astronomical Clock or the Powder Gate we had, at times, to dodge swerving Segways, sidestep umbrella-toting tour guides, and duck under swooping selfie-sticks. It is all part of the modern tourist lifestyle, but as you navigate your way through a corridor of raised iPhones all capturing a beaming face in front of an unmistakable icon, you begin to wonder about the nature of modern photography.

It is this obsession with the self (the very name of the selfie-stick betrays its motive) and the moment (images last until a phone is changed or a memory-stick purged) that makes old fools like myself shake our heads as we screw another interchangeable lens into our bulky SLRs and readjust our tripods. As we recompose the towers of St Vitus's Cathedral on our fresnel screens we despair at those who want to do nothing but superimpose their grinning, v-sign wielding, images on any bit of history that may be handy.  And we decide that when we get home to our trusty desks and our dusty darkrooms we will compose a grumpy post decrying the worship of "me" and "now".

And then we get home and whilst we are seeking the right words to convey our righteous indignation we flick through some old photograph albums from the days of our parents, the halcyon days of photography. And what do we find but picture after picture (what people of their generation called "snaps") of faces stuck in front of Blackpool Tower or Buckingham Palace. Pictures of me, pictures of now. And, with the hindsight of seventy years, it is the me and the now that infuses the photograph with interest. Blackpool Tower is still there, even the famous Blackpool trams are still there. But Miriam is gone as is that moment from July 1951. And this image, this selfie, is all that we have left.

So I have abandoned my plan to write an angry old man blog-post and I have decided to order a selfie-stick instead. As soon as it arrives I will share a bit of me and now.


  1. Oh Alan. Don't give in to the selfie.

  2. Thanks for the Ian Dury reference. I really miss that guy! As for selfies... I don't seem to take as many these days; in fact I don't believe I've taken a new one in almost a year. I wonder what that's about?

  3. When I would return from a trip and show my "snaps", one fellow always remarked "Were you there? You aren't in any of them." As I have not managed selfies, the same comment would apply.

  4. The selfie sticks have been outlawed in certain places like Disney Land got stuck in a ride and cause a huge I like selfies for the simple fact that usually the photographer is seldom in photographs and the selfie changes that. The stick, though? I'm not so sure about that one!

    1. Banned here too in some places. You take your life in your hands outside the Houses of Parliament.


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