The Story of the Selfie
From the photographer who took the shot: The story behind “that selfie”.
Two things are striking:
All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not.
I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.
The first paragraph provides context, which one can take as one wills.
The second I find interesting as an avid photographer, I know full well how a given shot, which can capture less than a second of time, can provide a distorted view of reality.
Indeed, to me one of the most interesting aspects of this story is the story of photographs. The story of why Cameron, Obama, and Schmidt would want a photograph to commemorate a moment (a fairly common impulse) and the meta way that a a photo of them taking that photo created a broader story.
(And I would say, as one who loves to take photos, the shot of the selfie is a great shot, regardless of anything else. And, indeed, this whole story show the power of a photograph).