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Selfies in the wild: Studying selfie photography as a local practice

Journal article
Authors Alexandra Weilenmann
Thomas Hillman
Published in Mobile Media and Communication
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords camera phone, ethnography, mobile phone, selfie, social media, social photography
Subject categories Ethnography, Communication Studies, Media Studies, Human Aspects of ICT


Previous research on selfies has primarily focused on selfies as media products rather than as an activity. In this paper, we examine selfies as a situated practice, connecting the social media phenomenon to the local spaces where it is performed. Based on ethnographic studies of selfie photography, we present and discuss three aspects of selfies in the wild. First, we consider selfies as part of a larger photographic context and show how they are often taken in series with other genres of images. Second, we expand upon the notion of selfies as conversation and show how selfie photographers exchange messages with remote friends and followers while attending to the local environment. Third, we discuss socializing around selfies, examining how copresent friends socialize around the production of selfies. These findings show the importance of considering selfies beyond the online context, and highlight the many ways that selfies are interweaved with our everyday activities.

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