Andreas Sandre

@andreas212nyc

The most famous selfies of all time

Ellen DeGeneres, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Selena Gomez have made selfies one of the most powerful representations of the social media age.

At the March 2014 Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles, host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres posted the most-shared selfie in the history of Twitter, with over 3.4 million retweets and 2.4 likes. Until recently, the selfie was also the most retweeted post on the platform. It’s now the second!

The celebrity-filled photo included (from the left): Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper (who physically took the photo), Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie, among others.

“It was a moment made for the celebrity-saturated Internet age,” wrote Time magazine when it included the selfie in its list of the 100 most influential photographs ever taken.

“From time to time, people ask me how that selfie came to be,” Fred Graver, who at the time was global head of TV for Twitter, wrote here on Medium in February this year.

“In the months leading up to the Oscars, we tossed out dozens of ideas for Ellen to try out,” he recalled. “The one she liked had her simply tweeting a selfie from the stage, with the audience behind her. On an impulse, during the rehearsals for the show on Saturday afternoon, she spotted the seating card for Meryl Streep, who would be on the aisle in the third row.”

The rest is history... Social media history that is!

While Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscars is the most shared selfie ever, the most infamous selfie of world politics was taken by former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa in December 2013. In the selfie also former US President Barack Obama and former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

We’ve all seen the photos of the three of them attempting the selfie. Because of the many critics, those photos went viral on social media and virtually every newspaper in the world— online or offline — talked about them.

But where was it posted?

Apparently, nowhere… Although there are photo of Thorning Schmidt texting or posting on social media.

“It was such an amazing day,” the former Danish Prime Minister told the audience at a Fortune’s Most Powerful Women event in 2016, describing the atmosphere at the Mandela memorial. “This was my first selfie and I had just learned it from my teenage daughters.”

“I kept asking myself if it was a good thing or a bad thing,” she said jokingly. “But because it made me so famous, I have to say it was a good thing.”

The original selfie taken by Thorning Schmidt was published and released to the public only this October 2017 in the tell-all book What Doesn’t Kill You (original title in Danish: Hvad Man Ikke Dør Af).

Barack Obama is present in another quite famous selfie, one of the first photos posted by former US Vice President Joe Biden in April 2014 when he joined Instagram with his official handle [at]vp — now archived as [at]vp44.

The selfie was liked over 75,000 times, with around 8,000 comments.

Obama and Biden modern-day “bromance” had been immortalized in many pictures throughout the years.

“The two have enjoyed an unusually close working relationship over the past eight years,” NPR wrote when Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Biden in January 2017.

Obama himself even joked at the outset of the ceremony when he said: “This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.”

On Instagram, the most liked selfie of all times is one taken by actress and singer Selena Gomez in April this year at the Coachella festival with boyfriend The Weeknd.

So far, the image has been liked around 8.2 million times, with over 206,000 comments.

The selfie, however, is not the most liked image on the platform. The title was given to Beyoncé for the pregnancy announcement photo she posted in February 2017, the most liked in Instagram history.

To note: Selena Gomez is the second most followed profile on the platform (128 million followers) after that of Instagram (227 million).

In November 1966 — decades before the social media age even started — Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., a pilot of the Gemini 12 spaceflight, became one of the first to take a space selfie when he captured an image of himself with the pilot’s hatch of the spacecraft open.

After Aldrin’s image, through the years, other astronauts were succesful in taking selfies in space.

Among some of the most iconic space selfies, those posted by NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman on his Twitter profile… And even on Vine.

Yes! On Vine, where Wiseman posted his famous water bubble selfie.

Below is a selected collections of space selfies, including (from the top/left): Barry “Butch” Wilmore in a spacewalk with his spacewalking partner Terry Virts, who can be seen in the reflection of Wilmore’s visor (February 2015); Mike Hopkins’s second spacewalk (December 2013); Luca Parmitano’s spacewalk (July 2013); Chris Cassidi using a digital still camera during a session of extravehicular activity (July 2013); Aki Hoshide using a digital still camera to expose a photo of his helmet visor (September 2012); Steve Robinson turning the camera on himself during his historic repair job underneath Discovery (August 2005).

What are your favorite selfies of all times?

More by Andreas Sandre

Topics of interest

More Related Stories