Self-portraiture has been used as a form of artistic expression by artists for centuries – long before the advent of social media.
Historian James Hall, author of The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History, pinpoints the Middle Ages as the era when self-portraiture became an artistic preoccupation. He writes: “Portraiture may have been pioneered by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, but in the Middle Ages self-portraiture becomes very much a Christian concern, connected with personal salvation, honour and love.”
The latest and most accessible iteration of the self-portrait, the selfie, was born in 2010 with the launch of the Apple iPhone 4 and its front-facing camera. Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself”, the selfie allows the photographer to share how they perceive themselves – and how they wish us to see them. The creative toolset might have changed since the Middle Ages, but the motivation remains the same.
Now, an online exhibition celebrating the selfie is being launched after women and female-identifying photographers were asked to submit their self-portraits. SELFIES: Women in Photography has been assembled from more than 500 entries submitted by society members and non-members from countries including Saudi Arabia, Greece, Australia, India, Brazil and Argentina.
Behind the competition and exhibition are the Women in Photography Group of the RPS. The panel tasked with selecting the exhibition winners included photographer Amak Mahmoodian; RPS Director of Development Tracy Marshall-Grant; Women in Photography Chair Teri Walker; and Laura Noble, curator and founder of LA Noble Gallery.
Enjoy some highlights from the submissions before discovering which images made the final selection on 15 June, when the exhibition launches.
Image credits top to bottom: ‘Self portrait clown’ by Emma Delves-Broughton FRPS; ‘Dark days’ by Yas-Crawford ARPS; ‘Selfie at Brown Lake’ by Carol Olerud FRPS; ‘Concealed/revealed’ by Frankie McAllister; ‘Torn’ by Gabriella Muttone; ‘The little mermaid’ by Irina Petrova Adamatzky
SELFIES: Women in Photography, 15 June-31 July 2022
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