‘Selfie’ was the word of the year in 2013. Since that time, vanity has reached new heights and photographing your own face has become an international obsession. Okay… I admit I’ve taken the odd selfie, but it’s usually because I am fed up with my Facebook profile picture or I’ve had my hair done and want to show off. I don’t feel the urge to snap pictures of myself everywhere I go. I’d rather look at what’s around me than at my own face.
I’ve just been to Rome, where it’s a struggle to get a good photograph of an ancient monument, stunning scene or historic building among the hordes of tourists, of all ages I might add, waving their selfie sticks around, pouting and posingprovocatively while they position themselves bang slap in front of the very monument they have paid to see. The Fontana de Trevi was a total selfie scrum!
If you’ve forgotten your selfie stick, then never fear. They will be offered to you by street vendors at least 20 times a day. They have replaced fridge magnets, postcards and guidebooks as the most popular products to shove in tourists’ faces. Some monuments, such as the Colosseum, have banned the use of peskyselfie sticks, although as soon as the guards are out of the way, out they come again.I can’t imagine what it must be like in summertime. I’m sure you need to wear sunglasses to make sure nobody pokes your eye out!
What did people do before the selfie stick? Well, you asked someone to take a photograph of you and hoped they wouldn’t run away with your camera or mobile phone. Funny how uncomfortable you feel when someone else is holding your camera or mobile phone, don’t you think?
As much as I love photography, it’s always quite a relief to go into a monument or area where photography is not allowed. You can relax and just take in your surroundings and concentrate on experiencing everything in real time. Sometimes you know that however good your camera, it will be impossible to capture the scale, the height, depth or the colours of a scene. All you can do then is just switch off the camera, open your eyes and ears, take a deep breath, and try to capture the essence with your senses and create a memory that will last forever.