This is a photo I took when I was in grade school at St Monica’s in Milwaukee. It was the 1970s and every boy was expected to put some time into being an alter boy. No girls were allowed at this time to fill that duty.
It was interesting to be a part of what happened behind the scenes at mass. I am sure there were many girls who were really curious about what went on back there.
This photo was taken from a hallway through a window that looked onto the alter.
By now most savvy social media users know that the selfie is not new. What is new is how they are made with new portable technology and how they are seen instantly by so many friends and strangers. The digital age selfie is defined by the capturing device generally being held a little overhead and the inclusion of the raised arm in the shot. Often multiple people are included.
As I stated, the selfie as a form of portraiture isn’t knew. It used to be referred to as a self portrait. Artists and photographers alike often made self portraits. Most famous painters throughout art history made them. Self portraits have been made by artists in the earliest of times but it wasn’t until the 15th century that artists can be frequently identified as depicting themselves as the main subject or characters in the work. Portrait of a Man in a Turban by Jan van Eyck of 1433 may well be the earliest known panel self-portrait.
There are many famous self portraits thought history including Vincent van Gough, Edward Hopper and Chuck Close to name just a few. Every artist at sometime in their career makes a few. It is a regular art school activity.
About My Selfie
At age twelve when I first started photographing with a Kodak Instamatic using my own film, the first thing I did was to take a self portrait. An early selfie, if you will. I have made many since then, however I believe this image is my first one.
Having a studio in downtown Minneapolis during the 90s sure had it’s historic moments. My studio at the time was in the Butler North building, 1/2 block away from the Target Center (it was being built during my first year in that studio). There was a lot of urban development going on between new buildings and remodeled older ones. One of the big changes was a so-called blighted block (Block E) was slated to be razed and re-developed. It took almost a decade to get it even razed. Then development took another good part of a decade. There was an historic theater on that block, The Shubert Theater.
The theater was moved from it’s spot on Block E to the next block north on Hennepin Ave. The story of the theater and how it was moved can be found here. Another earlier view of the Shubert from my first studio can be found here.
I had moved out of my studio when the Shubert was moved but I was downtown a lot for business and my daughter’s ballet classes at Minnesota Dance Theater. I got to capture this shot of my daughter with the Shubert in the process of being prepared for what turned out to be the first relocation of a building of this size in history.
In the early 1980s I had a photo studio on Glenwood Ave in downtown Minneapolis. My studio was situated halfway between First Avenue (the street and night club) and the Punk Rock night club Goofy’s Upper Deck (2nd floor above the Market BBQ). Being so close to Goofy’s and the Market BBQ I went to a lot of shows and ate a lot of BBQ.
I never considered myself a rock band photographer. Never the less, I frequently brought my camera to shows at Goofy’s. I enjoyed photographing the attending crowd more than shooting the band. Most of the time I had no idea who was in front of my camera. It’s all kind of fuzzy. And shooting slam dancing was a real combat situation sometimes! I wouldn’t know who I got until I developed the film.
Follow up with people I photographed was dicey. No social media or websites meant getting images to people depended on if I ever saw them again. Sometimes people would block the camera with their hand, so I would not take their photo. I respected that gesture. I did not need that kind of problem. Most of the time people I pointed my camera at during these shows were happy to be photographed.
These images are from a Husker Du show … I don’t know what year. It must have been before or after 1983. Again, it’s all kind of fuzzy. And, of course, no meta data on film.
I have more from Goofy’s and other clubs. I plan to post them in the future.
If anyone recognizes who is in any photos I post, feel free to let me know who they are.