Bored of photographing others? How about you rotate that camera and photograph your own self? Perfect. You have now taken a “selfie.” This terminology, created in early 2001, recently found a place in the Oxford Dictionary and was named as 2013′s word of the year. However, the term is not just limited to capturing an image of yourself. The image then needs to be posted on a social networking website as well.
While some of the most famous selfies that went viral include Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie, Obama’s selfie at Nelson Madela’s funeral, and Facebook’s Sellotape selfie campaign, below we take a look at some selfies that were just random clicks and did not involve any big celebrity names. However, they did find their way to fame, courtesy of social media platforms.
Benjamin Lasnier – A star in the making
With his first picture on Instagram getting 50 likes in just half an hour, Lasnier knew he had hit the nail on the head. Soon his followers – growing at around 762,000 a year – started to compare him with Justin Bieber, in terms of his looks. Benjamin capitalized on this opportunity by devising a 12-selfies-a-day marketing campaign. The campaign involved him posting 12 selfies a day on Instagram according to different time zones in order to gain maximum viewership at peak periods. With each selfie attracting 60,000 likes, Benjamin’s Instagram profile soon found its place on Instagrams “popular” page, making it available to more than 100 million users. Despite mustering such a huge fan following, Benjamin made it a point to not follow anyone himself, to make his profile exclusive.
The now 15-year-old Bieber look-alike is one of the world’s most “Instagram famous” people, with 1.1 million “Benzilers” waiting daily for him to post selfies of his messy hair, bold poses, and a never-ending hat collection. However, his fame is not restricted to Instagram alone. He has 48,000 YouTube subscribers, 3.7 million Facebook fans, and around 225,000 Twitter followers. Benjamin reciprocates the love given to him by tweeting and posting thankful messages and personalized picture captions, making his fans believe that they are much more close to him than any other celebrity they follow.
However, his fame does not end here. What started with a selfie, has now become a multi-million dollar brand. Despite having a musical interest limited to posting a few lip-sync videos on Youtube, Benjamin Lasnier was signed by Sony for a record deal in March 2013. When questioned about their decision to invest heavily in a someone who is not an established name in music, Sony A&R Mads Kjaergaard replied “Every talent starts from scratch, if Lesnier can establish himself well there is no limit to where he could go.”
While his music career might require him to lose his “Instaboy” image, Lesnier says he is ready to take up this challenge and “go another way.”
Daniel Arnold- From hobby, to passion, to obsession
Instagram’s best photographer was left with less than $100 in his bank account on his 34th birthday, when his decision to post this message on Instagram changed his life:
“Hello, I just turned 34 this second. For one day only, I am selling 4×6 prints of whatever you want from my Instagram archive for $150 each. I swear I will never sell anything this cheap again. If you’re interested, send a screenshot of the photo(s) of your choice to firstname.lastname@example.org (one d) and I will send a paypal invoice, followed by a signed print. Easy peasy. Happy my birthday. I love you.”
Within a day of posting this, Daniel collected around $5000 and got requests worth $1500. His fans were even willing to buy the printed version of his pictures for $1000. Daniel has around 60,258 followers and 1,565 pictures posted on Instagram. He quit his corporate job the moment money started to pour in from these pictures, and has now adopted photography as a lifestyle.
Daniel’s street photography has recently gained a lot of attention from the media. He has been labeled as a modern cultural phenomenon that is changing the entire course of photography, and taking it to a whole new level. Even after doing photography projects for Vogue and The New Yorker, Daniel doesn’t believe his work is perfect, and does not plan on giving up street photography.
If you are in New York and are travelling, reading, clubbing or even catching your breath after a long and tiring day, you might have a fair chance of running into a fellow who would photograph you with the following compliment:
“I’m sorry to bother you. You make New York look how I always wanted it to look.”
The selfie campaign that raised millions
Nobody can say with absolute certainty as to what caused hundreds and thousands of women around the world to post their no-makeup selfies on social media. But rumor has it that it was due to the negative tweets that followed actress Kim Novak’s makeup-caked appearance at this year’s Oscars, which compelled author Laura Lippman to tweet her no-makeup selfie. Ms. Lippman is believed to have done it in order to show her support for Kim Novak, and to prove her point that such images would put less pressure on women who feel the need to get worked up to look beautiful.
Several celebrities followed the trend, and started to post their no-makeup selfies on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and the trend soon amassed 140,000 followers on Twitter and 826,000 likes on Facebook. As a result, Cancer Research UK received an overwhelming donation of £8 million for cancer research. While many commentators highlighted how this campaign made cancer awareness a matter of emotion rather than practical knowledge, the trend continued to grow in the US, and the Amercian Cancer Society managed to get a lot of donations as well.
Apart from the criticism, this campaign also made headlines when BBC reported that many donors wrongly sent their donations to UNICEF instead of Cancer Research UK by texting “DONATE” rather than “BEAT.”