Travel Photography: A Different Kind of Selfie

Today I realized that it has been two weeks since the last time I posted something new on my blog. I have about five different posts that I started writing and can’t seem to finish. My walks along Humber River and Mimico Creek in Toronto. Old trip reports from a couple of years ago. My musings about disappearing nature words. My COP21-inspired thoughts about changing natural landscapes, human impact, climate change and environmental protection. All of these are awaiting completion.

This post will be about something else entirely. This morning, as I was checking my WordPress reader to see what my fellow bloggers have been up to, I came across a post on Where’s My Backpack? blog. It was titled Travel Theme: Self and featured some unusual selfies. Make sure to check it out! In her post, the author also invited everyone to create their own interpretation of the theme and start an alternative selfie movement. So I thought why not. It is fun, and I can certainly relate to being more comfortable behind the camera. Time and again, I come back from a trip, look through my pictures and realize I am not in any of them.

As the Where’s My Backpack? writer points out, we live in the age of a selfie. The word has even made it into a dictionary now. On any given day, it is hard to get through the Facebook feed without coming across a picture of a famous landmark hidden behind someone’s face. Self-portraits are nothing new, of course. Painters had been creating them for centuries long before the arrival of the camera. And a lot of famous photographers had been taking pictures of themselves long before the selfie fad. The difference, of course, is that self-portraits of the past were the artists’ attempts to capture some deeper, inner parts of themselves, whereas today’s selfies are mere digital “I’ve been there” records or “Look at my new hairstyle” announcements.

Even if I wanted to capture myself in front of every place we visit, it would be hard to do. I don’t have a smart phone and a bulky DSLR camera isn’t very conducive to selfie-taking. Try it, I dare you! We did it a couple of times just for fun, and it certainly requires a team effort.


As it turns out there is now a DSLR selfie-stick, so the DSLR-using community won’t feel left out. Although, to me it is an unnecessary money-grab since a tripod can do a much better job if you are willing to go into the trouble of setting it up, or you can just use any available surface. Occasionally, I commit to taking group pictures of our family, especially when we go on long road trips. These photo sessions usually inspire a lot of eye-rolling, grumbling and something along the lines of “Oh, mom and her pictures.”

trip2013_family-5   trip2013_family-2

LakeSuperiorCircleTour-111   family in a tent

Once in a while, I even set up a tripod to do a proper self-portrait. Well, can you call it a portrait if doesn’t show your face? Here is one of my favourites taken right before the sunrise in Porcupine Mountains. You can read the full story of this picture here.

before sunrise at Lake of the Clouds

Most of my selfies, however, feature my shoes, shadows or reflections like the ones below.

view from the tent in Quetico   view from the tent - backcountry campsite in Quetico

Feet in the river   view from head of the giant at Sleeping Giant


centennial-7   041112washigto017

Craters of the moon National Monument in Idaho

clouds and camera reflected in the side-view mirror of the moving car

When it comes to capturing my essence, I guess, each of my photos is an attempt to do that. As Ansel Adams famously said, “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” By that measure, I have a lot of selfies. But guess what? You are in them too!

So what is your favourite alternative selfie?

7 thoughts on “Travel Photography: A Different Kind of Selfie

  1. Pingback: Travel Theme-Self | WoollyMuses

  2. My favourite is the selfie before sunrise at Porcupine Mountain but I love those fun family shots too! You did well to get everyone to work together like that! I am atrocious at selfie shots of myself so usually stick to pictures of my shoes poking out over mountain tops. I do have a caricature of my face drawn on a piece of paper by my daughter that I carry with me on walks that might appear in the blog one of these days. It’s meant to hold in front of my exhausted, sweaty red face at the summit. Loved this fun post. My daughter is a portrait artist and we often discuss the whole selfie fad and what artists in the past used to capture. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane! Yeah, those group shots require a bit of coordinating and even though my kids roll their eyes at me, I know in the end they enjoy them and it’s something to look back at after the trip. Looking forward to seeing the caricature of your face in your future blog!
      I find the whole selfie fad a bit annoying but also fascinating. Are we becoming more self-centered or is modern technology simply enabling and magnifying our need to prove that we exist? Hard to say.

      Liked by 1 person

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