Selfies and recontextualisation: Still life self-imaging in social media

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  • Michele Zappavigna
  • Sumin Zhao

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Self-representation can be construed through a wide-range of visual genres that are associated
with different types of social practices. Visual self-representation shared via social media as a
form of ‘social photography’ is an increasingly important means of negotiating experiences
and relationships. This chapter explores how particular visual structures associated with
Instagram selfies are recontextualised across different domains and practices. In particular it
focuses on still life self-imaging as an extension of the classic selfie genre. The chapter
adopts a social semiotic perspective, focusing on the important role of interpersonal meaning
in construing alignments with ambient viewers. In particular, we will discuss the ways in
which the photographer’s perspective is implied and inferred through representational and
compositional choices (e.g. inclusion of body parts, shadows, reflections etc.), and the
interesting functions these visual choices enact as they are recontextualised across meaning-
making domains and media platforms (e.g. Instagram, Tumblr). We argue that selfie is both a
genre and a recontextualizing discourse, and understanding the ‘selfie-isation’ of
photographic practices on social media offers insight to the nature of semiotic capitalism.
Title of host publicationPhotography and Its Publics
EditorsMelissa Miles, Ed Welch
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Publication date2018
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018

    Research areas

  • Selfies, Still life self-imaging, Social Photography , Social Media , Recontextualisation