The Year in Selfies 2017

The Year in Selfies 2017

With the inevitable rise and fall of trends, you might have predicted the eventual decline in the selfie. But if our annual recap is any indication, the selfie looks like it’s here to stay in our image-obsessed culture. This year, people are still misbehaving, AI makes strides, and a whole museum has been announced to chronicle the history of the selfie. Let’s take a look!


London’s Saatchi Gallery started off the year with an exhibition entitled “From Selfie to Self-Expression.” But more than just a gallery show, Saatchi produced a selfie contest in conjunction with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei called #SaatchiSelfie. The resulting images were surprisingly thoughtful and well-executed, like winner Dawn Woolley’s “selfie.”

Photo by Dawn Woolley

Not so surprisingly, consumers have expressed readiness to embrace selfies as a tool to help them navigate their lives from credit card transactions to using proper form at the gym. But what about privacy?

The monkey selfie was humorous, but Nayan Khanolkar’s leopard selfie – caught using a camera trap – in the streets of Mumbai is gorgeous in an almost painterly execution.

People just don’t seem to understand that wild animals are, well, wild. Getting close to snap a selfie with a crocodile can result in dire consequences as a tourist found out in Thailand.

He was once one of the most electrifying college quarterbacks, but now NFL washout Johnny Manziel has been relegated to selling fan selfies for $50 at the Super Bowl.  

Israeli satirist Shahak Shapira composited selfies of tourists at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial with stark scenes from Nazi concentration camps in a project called Yolocaust. Amazingly, all 12 people featured in his temporal internet installation saw the resulting work, and at least one sent a heartfelt apology for his behavior.

Photo illustration by Shahak Shapira



Taking selfies is fun, but accordingly to one small study, no one else wants to see them.

We were amazed when we first saw Noah Kalina’s version which started in the year 2000, but Boston College photography professor Karl Baden has been taking a selfie everyday since February 23, 1987.

No, you probably shouldn’t run down to the pitch at a professional football game to take a selfie with your team’s star players, but then again, your team probably shouldn’t sue you for it either.



There’s probably an AI-based app that can rate your selfie, but why give the computers all the fun when other people can tell you themselves.

A few years ago, the notion of a selfie drone was a literal joke. Something that The Onion might conjure up as cultural satire. But now if you really want one (because your selfie stick isn’t long enough), you can get one.

A Syrian refugee took a selfie with Germany’s Angela Merkel in 2015, only to find that a few years later, jerks on the Internet were using his photo to falsely accuse him of being a terrorist. Anas Modamani sought an injunction with Facebook in Germany claiming that the company had a responsibility to uphold stricter media laws, but the judge ruled against him.



The front facing camera on your smartphone is, in truth, not really the proper focal length for a portrait. Adobe showed off a mystery selfie app that allows you to make various automated adjustments with a swipe of your finger – perfect for your next Tinder profile pic.

Insurance companies make money by having better predictive models and personal data about their customers. Do you smoke? Have a chronic disease? Oh, and could you send us a selfie so we can determine whether you’re aging faster or slower than your biological age?



After a man plowed his car into a crowd in Times Square, Marla Maples (Donald Trump’s second wife) decided that it would be a good idea to take a selfie.  

In celebrity news that no one cares about, Kylie Jenner – a person literally famous for being the sister of someone who is literally famous for nothing – broke the rules and took a bathroom selfie at the Met Gala.

Those Aussie cops sure are nice people! After a rough night out, two police officers in Tasmania escorted a man to his bed and took a selfie so he would remember how he had gotten there in the morning.

Paris Hilton says she invented the selfie.



French actor Audrey Tatou turned to the selfie following her massive success with 2001’s “Amelie” to regain perspective and cope with her newfound fame. The Rencontres d’Arles festival exhibited her work for the first time.

National Selfie Day is June 21.

I guess if you’re gonna stop traffic, it should be because you’re taking a selfie with The Rock. I guess?



We’re still a little skeptical as to whether this was an actual accident or performance art, but a woman taking a selfie destroyed $200,000 worth of art.

Writer Jason Parham believes taking a selfie at a religious site renders into a mere object, “by dismissing its context, its legacy, or the significance it holds for others—mere background, mise en scene to complete a single frame of one’s digital identity.”

Snaplight, maker of a cellphone case with a built-in LED for taking selfies, sued Kim Kardashian’s LuMee for patent infringement. The $100m lawsuit states that “it has been extremely difficult for Snaplight to compete in the selfie case market” given Kardashian’s promotion of her own product through her social media reach.



Do not put your kid in the 800-year old coffin for a photo.

It’s not something you want to share with the insurance company, but this app uses selfies to diagnose your pancreatic cancer.   

Maybe you do want AI to tell you how to take the perfect selfie before you use the other app to rate how you look.



Chef’s started creating “Instagrammable” dishes a few years ago, and now museums are following suit by designing spaces that encourage people to post to social media in hopes of drawing larger crowds.

We love animals, but vehemently disagreed with PETA’s lawsuit against “monkey selfie” photographer, David Slater. Fortunately, the matter was settled with an allegedly bankrupt Slater agreeing to donate 25% of future revenue to charitable organizations that protect Naruto, the Indonesian crested macaque.

It may not hack your iPhone X’s facial security, but researchers from Kingston University and Nottingham University used AI to create a 3d selfie from a 2d image.  

We guess you could always protect your identity by using an animoji instead of a selfie…


Yes, it might make transactions more secure, but do we really want credit card companies to have our selfies?

President Obama doesn’t want to take a selfie with you. The reason? He says, “…I found people were no longer looking me in the eye…But [if you are] blocking yourself from having a conversation or seeing somebody and recognizing them and listening to them because you are so busy trying to get a picture … then you are, I think, in some ways, contributing to what separates us rather than trying to break through.”

Hope it’s waterproof!



We’ve always found the “rooftopping” selfie to be a needlessly dangerous and risky proposition. The death of Chinese daredevil Wu Yongning is tragic, and the video of his fall is disturbing.

Anything for a selfie includes callously snapping a pic from your luxury resort while locals are fleeing an erupting volcano.

No, Paris Hilton didn’t invent the selfie. But she did argue with Johnny Pigozzi about it.  



Jiayang Fan writes in The New Yorker about China’s Selfie Obsession – where apps like Meitu have become verbs unto themselves. The image obsessed describe spending an hour enhancing a single selfie as a simple courtesy.

The cancer selfie is one way to dissuade others from using a tanning bed

Perhaps it’s fitting (and inevitable) that a museum dedicated solely to the history and art of the selfie has been announced for a 2018 opening in the Glendale neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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