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The Contemporary Self-Portrait

by Kennedy Rooke

It’s Friday night, you’re getting ready to go out with your friends. Maybe you’re wearing makeup for the first time in who-knows-when, maybe you’re not wearing sweatpants for once, maybe the permanent stress/exhaustion bags under your eyes are looking a little less pronounced. You catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think, damn! I look good! You whip out your phone, open up the camera, and proceed to make yourself appear as hot as possible. There are a lot of steps that going in to finding the perfect selfie; the perfect light, angle, filter, etc. I’ve drawn up a quick guide here to taking the most perfect selfie. You’re welcome! 

1. You immediately get that pesky “Cannot take photo, storage full” pop-up. Delete the 20 pictures of that random cat you saw on the street yesterday! I promise you will see more cute cats throughout your life, you can survive without 20 of the exact same pictures of this one. 

2. Ok here we go, now you gotta find that light, the perfect amount of light that doesn’t obscure your face in darkness but doesn’t show off every pimple, wrinkle, and smudge on your face. 

3. Now the angle. Hold that phone up high, show off your good side, and then keep tilting your face ever so slightly until you have at least 30 pictures on your phone that look exactly the same but you will spend 20 minutes picking the perfect one. 

4. Once you’ve chosen a winner, it’s time to pick out a filter. Think about the message you want to send. A dark rustic look? Black and white to seem somber? A vintage tint to seem poetic? Maybe you wanna throw it back to your early Instagram days with a Kelvin or an Early Bird. Go wild! Maybe you wanna go for a hashtag no filter – classic. 

5. Now you’re ready to share. Spend another hour thinking of a witty caption and make sure you run it by at least 3 people before posting. The caption is subtly the most important part. 

6. Share it, baby! Relish in the likes. Embrace it, Narcissus! 

What, you may be thinking, does this have to do with art? Well, everything I say! Before cameras people used to hire artists to paint giant portraits of them and then hang the portraits in their homes so they could just stare at themselves until they died (I assumed that’s what they did). Now we get to BE the artists! We are the models, artists, and curators. Our iPhones are our paintbrushes, and Instagram is our gallery. I mean, we are narcissistic creatures, what’s better than looking at our own dumb faces?   

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