Consulted by one of Spain’s leading telephone service providers, Fontcuberta admits that he was unable to predict the impact that the incorporation of a camera into a telephone would have. The smartphone, which has not only added the possibility of capturing snapshots to its features, has been elevated to the dignity of a mediator of much of our social and cultural experiences, and the software is the ultimate agent for organizing, focusing and materializing this experience. Instantaneity, ubiquity and connectivity: these are the three paradigms that define the vernacular practice of mobile photography and that have contributed to the extinction of the previous model (compact cameras), and that not only correspond to functionalities present in the devices, but also have a correlation with the social attitude of individuals: it is less strange for us to use a mobile phone to take a photo in any environment, than the use of a traditional camera. The type of device used is somehow attributed to the intention.
While instantaneousness, the possibility of obtaining the image without technical mediators, has contributed decisively to the popularization of digital photography, the ability of smartphones to be simultaneously recording and displaying devices was the ultimate impetus to their mass use as photographic devices. Although communication is the user’s main justification for acquiring a smartphone, manufacturers and users are increasingly offering and demanding additional features in the terminals. The announcement of the Samsung S10 highlights the design factor, the features of its camera and the possibility of wireless battery recharging, but there is no mention of the possibility of talking on the phone:
If the tendency to turn the camera towards oneself is innate to the “photographer”, the smartphone technically provided the possibility – did the technique respond to a demand – and its diffusion is part of the strategy of social networks. As mentioned in Tifentale’s essay, the selfie becomes a kind of advertisement for the user, in which he highlights its merits and virtues in order to shape his virtual identity. It is no longer just selfie as an individual sample, but selfie taken together with public or relevant characters, taken to manifest/consolidate the individual’s position in the social fabric. The typology of selfies includes a variety of formats (mirror, turned, front, feet, etc…) and it is always manifest the intention of the subject to leave a record of the place where he is, what he is doing, a dangerous situation, to show some complement in his wardrobe or to inform some physical characteristic or change.
The selfie is not so much intended to be stored – which is another paradigm shift – as to be disseminated by the RRSS and to obtain feedback from other users. In relation to this issue, I observe how some of the images taken during family celebrations are shared immediately, kept individually on mobile phones by each of the members, and without any physical support. The dissemination of the photographic archive on multiple devices has led to the extinction of the family album and although many online platforms offer the possibility of its centralization in the cloud, this feature is ignored by most users.