21 June is Selfie Day – Five things you didn’t know about the selfie

21 June is Selfie Day - Five things you didn’t know about the selfie
21 June is Selfie Day - Five things you didn’t know about the selfie
21 June is Selfie Day – Five things you didn’t know about the selfie

The selfie. Love it or hate it, it is undeniable that it has become a central element of global culture, transcending boundaries of geography, religion, and status. Nothing embodies the influence of technology on our lives more than the phenomenon of the selfie. Here are five fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about this modern-day marvel.

1. The birth of the selfie
Believe it or not, the very first selfie was taken way back in 1839 by an American photographer, Robert Cornelius. His purpose was not purely narcissistic, however, as he was taking the photo to try out a new lighting technique. Unlike the ‘quickie’ selfies of today, experts estimate that Cornelius would have had to stay in the same position for three to 15 minutes to get the shot. Some historians have also argued that self-portraits have been an important part of art for centuries, and well-known painters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh were big fans of this medium.

2. What’s in a name?
In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries included the word ‘selfie’ in its online dictionary, and even went so far as to award this term the accolade of Word of the Year. In the previous year, Time Magazine had included the word ‘selfie’ in its list of ‘Top 10 buzzwords’, and in 2014 this term was officially accepted for use in the game Scrabble. The word ‘selfie’ was first used in Australia back in 2003 when a young guy took a picture of his face, showing how he had hurt his lip while drunk, and shared it. This social-media friendly term reflects the tendency in Australian English to add the ‘-ie’ ending to words to form new slang terms – ‘barbie’ for barbeque or braai is another example.

3. The siren song of the selfie
Many have sacrificed their lives in pursuit of the perfect selfie. A recent study, titled “Me, myself, and my killfie” found that 127 selfie deaths occurred between March 2014 and September 2016. The number has most likely doubled or even tripled in the past year and a half. In 2015 selfie deaths outnumbered shark attack fatalities by 300% worldwide. Interestingly, India has by far the largest number of selfie fatalities, with 76 of the 127 deaths over that period occurring in this country. Taking shots on trains and near the sea during high tide are particular hotspots for selfie demise. The situation is so severe that police have even identified ‘no-selfie zones’ in India’s main cities.

4. Monkey business
It’s not only humans who love a good selfie. Back in 2011, wildlife photographer David Slater left his camera unattended in an Indonesian jungle. A mischievous monkey – a Sulawesi macaque to be specific – took advantage and snapped a grinning selfie, instantly becoming a viral sensation. However, when the image was included in Slater’s book, “Wildlife Personalities” in 2015, animal rights group PETA sued Slater and his publishing company for infringing the monkey’s copyright (yes, you read that correctly). It was only in April this year that the case was finally settled. The appeal court found that America’s Copyright Act did not include animals, and criticised PETA for exploiting the monkey, known as Naruto, for their own agenda.

5. Taking the ultimate selfie
Of course, every great selfie needs a superb smartphone camera, and Huawei delivers this and more with its new P20 series. The HUAWEI P20 Pro is equipped with the world’s first Leica triple camera with the highest total pixel count on modern smartphones – a 40MP RGB sensor, a 20MP monochrome sensor, and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens. Meanwhile, the HUAWEI P20 features a Leica dual camera with a 12MP RGB + 20MP monochrome camera setup with a 12MP.

Best of all, the Huawei P20 Pro’s 24MP front camera captures the smallest details, even in low-light settings, bringing selfies to life. With each selfie taken, AI beautification provides 3D portrait lighting, making adjustments to better match your facial features, resulting in luminous skin-tone enhancements and radiant selfies even when backlit. The beautification effects are so stunning, it’s like having a personal beauty entourage with you wherever you go!

The P20 series is also powered by artificial intelligence (AI), which brings professional photography skills to your smartphone, as it automatically selects the shooting modes and parameter settings for different scenes – all you have to do is point and shoot to get top-notch shots. The AI also learns your photo-taking habits and preferences over time, making your photos even better.


By Akhram Mohamed, Marketing Director, Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa