Celebrity Selfies have Value

by Rachel Baker on July 17, 2014

Here is an interesting article that looks at the point Taylor Swift raised in her wall Street Journal editorial: have selfies with celebrities replaced the demand for celebrity autographs?

For quite some time, the exchange value of celebrity autographs have been rooted in the fact that the celebrity signature is the labor product of a unique individual captured in time and space—it is that rare souvenir of a meeting or encounter with a famous individual, possibly never to be repeated again. Unless it is mass-produced, the celebrity autograph is low supply and high demand.

Selfies, on the other hand, are ephemeral, easily duplicated, and mass-recirculated. No one wants to pay heaps of money for a selfie that’s been shared endless times. And many contemporary celebrities are overexposed—their aura is diminished, to coin Walter Benjamin. The selfie is sometimes played out even before it circulates.

Still, if you managed to shoot an incriminating selfie with a celebrity or snap a selfie with a celebrity who’s a recluse, you could have something financially valuable on your hands. The app Scoopshoot allows you to earn money from your smartphone photos by connecting you directly with media outlets that will purchase them. But don’t hold your breath: there’d have to be something uniquely compelling about your selfie in such a way that the image could exist and circulate as a story on its own for it to earn major bucks. The minimum requirement for making money from a selfie is that you have to capture an expression, an activity, or an moment that is singular, unique, and non-repeatable.

Celebrity selfies have value—just don’t try to sell them

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