Who invented the first Selfie?

Michael • updated November 25, 2022 • 2 min read

The first selfie

Today, everyone takes selfies, yet the first selfie was taken more than 180 years ago. The selfie has been rampant since the invention of the cellphone.

However, the first selfie was taken in 1839, when a US resident had to stand still for many minutes to capture it.


Many take credit for the first selfie

The selfie has long been a favorite of the Internet, available to the entire world on Instagram accounts, in private chats, for celebrities, politicians, and teens alike. But who is the true inventor of the selfie?

Paris Hilton takes credit for this historic achievement. The It girl tweeted in 2020 that she and Britney Spearscreated the selfie” in 2006, but that’s not true – this type of photo is far older.

According to reliable sources and common perception, a guy called Robert Cornelius is the “creator of the selfie.” his shot is much older than that of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, or any smartphone selfie that has ever been taken. Cornelius snapped a photograph of himself in the backyard of his family’s lighting company in 1839.

  • Historic selfie: three to fifteen minutes of exposure time

The American from Philadelphia was not only a lamp manufacturer, but he also had a passion for photography, which was still in its early stages at the time. In October 1839, he was keen to try out the daguerreotype, a method devised just a few months earlier by the French painter Louis Daguerre.

Make sure you know when did portrait photography start.

Daguerre utilized a silver-plated copper plate, and mercury vapor allowed him to cut the exposure period to minutes while still producing high-quality images with features visible with a magnifying lens – a game-changing invention for history of photography.

Robert Cornelius took the first selfie in history in 1839.

A long exposure time made it difficult

Nonetheless, the exposure period ranged from three to fifteen minutes, making it unsuitable for portraiture because the subjects had to remain motionless for so long. Nonetheless, Cornelius decided to try: he made a camera out of a box and an opera-glass lens and posed as a model himself.

He appears as a young guy in the final image, standing slightly offset from the center of the image, with folded arms, a doubtful expression, and hair ruffled by the wind.

The first selfie is listed at the Guinness Book of Records

Cornelius would not have thought of the term “selfie” back then on Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street. But he was fully aware of the historical significance of his image. On the back of the shot, he wrote, “The first photograph ever taken. 1839.” However, this is most likely limited to the United States.

Daguerreotype camera from 1839

Only nine months earlier, Louis Daguerre took the first photograph in which individuals could be seen. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a Frenchman, took the first picture in 1926 from his study.

However, the photograph by Robert Cornelius is often regarded as the first portrait photograph in history. The photograph is now at the Library of Congress, and Cornelius’ name is in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Cornelius is ruled out if we use a slightly tighter definition of a selfie, in which the photo must not only be a self-portrait, but the photographer must also be holding the camera in his hand. For many years, cameras were too heavy and cumbersome to be utilized in this manner.

It wasn’t until 1909 when British photographer Joseph Byron stepped in. He stood back from the camera, looked into the lens, and took a picture of himself in a suit and top hat. In doing so, he established a fad in which people who liked photography, primarily men, held up large cameras to take images of themselves alone or in groups.

  • The term “selfie” initially appeared with the advent of the Internet.

However, the term “selfie” did not appear on the Internet until the early 2000s. It is claimed to have been used for the first time on an Australian online forum in 2002.

More about selfie photography:
Paris Hilton Killing Me Softly: How Mass Media Passes Off Crap as News
Why Paris Hilton Is Famous
The Russian Government wants your selfies to be safe
Paris Hilton claims she and Britney Spears invented the selfie
American Psychiatric Association makes it official: Selfie a mental disorder
USA TODAY ponders the selfie with Brian Solis
People enjoy taking selfies, but not seeing them online
Selfie Sticks to be completely banned from Walt Disney World Theme Parks


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By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.


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