There are people who believe that selfies hurt the art of photography. I wouldn't be honest if I said that I liked selfies when they became a big thing. Being a photographer I also thought that selfies are destroying the art of photography. But just like in many similar situations, you have to study the issue properly before making conclusions.

In fact, the first selfie was taken in 1839, the same year when photography was patented by Louis Daguerre. Self-photo or selfie was inherited from self-portrait, but it became a big thing only in the 2010s.  In 2013, 'selfie' became a word of the year in the Oxford English Dictionary. And it got so popular due to the accessibility of smartphones with cameras and the growing popularity of social media websites like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.

Of course, if you look at most of the selfies which are made in bathrooms or near popular tourist attractions all around the world, most of them look like a mockery of the art of photography. But as Jenna Wortham, New York Times writer, correctly points out:

"Rather than dismissing the trend as a side effect of digital culture or a sad form of exhibitionism, maybe we’re better off seeing selfies for what they are at their best — a kind of visual diary, a way to mark our short existence and hold it up to others as proof that we were here."

It would be unfair to say that all selfies are bad. With the advent of action cameras and selfie sticks more and more outstanding shots started to appear. Documenting your life and doing it beautifully became a new trend. These excellent, breath-taking, marvelous and awe-inspiring selfies made by travelers all around the world are the subject of this article. We will show you that the art of taking self-photos have reached the new heights where it isn't mocking photography but enriching and empowering it.

20 The Flying Skier

This skier has certainly mastered the art of taking epic selfies. Caleb Farro, an Instagram celebrity and a GoPro production assistant are often chasing professional skiers to take outstanding shots, but this time he did a magnificent selfie for himself. The result is outstanding, isn't it?

And that's the argument in favor of the thesis that selfie genre can enrich the art of photography. It wouldn't be possible to take such a great shot using a standard digital camera. But having the right technology we can now take shots of ourselves soaring through the sky in the middle of the frozen kingdom.

19 Inside the Air Balloon

Have you ever wondered what is it like to be inside a huge air balloon? This spectacular photo gives you the answer. I bet, it took you a couple of seconds to understand what's happening in this picture.

There are may selfies from the hot air balloon rides from Cappadocia, Turkey and other places where you can go to a journey like this, but for some reason, no one thought about making a selfie from inside the air balloon.

This jaw-dropping shot was taken by an extreme athlete Mark Freeman with a GoPro camera on a pole when he was having a hot air balloon journey with Cloud Chasers in Ontario, Canada. Looks like a view from another dimension.

18 Shiny Waters of the Indian Ocean

A guy putting his selfie stick inside a hot air balloon, a gal using the oar as a selfie stick to make a self-photo in the middle of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania. Do you see, what happens when selfie-people have the right tools and get really creative about using them?

They obtain excellent results, which stand out and leave us speechless. The feeling that you get by looking at this photo is both surprising and relaxing. On the one hand, it really strikes you when you realize that it was taken with help of an oar and on the other hand you feel the lure of the Indian Ocean and warmth of the shining sun reflecting in the water. Beautiful.

17 Parahawking Expert

Have you ever heard about parahawking? I think I need to explain it to you first before discussing this photo. Parahawking is paragliding with a trained bird of prey, which gives you a mix of adventure, conservation, and eco-tourism. It was invented by Scott Mason, renowned paraglider and bird trainer in Pokhara, Nepal. Now there are several places around the world where you can paraglide with trained birds. Parahawking is useful for everyone because part of the money you pay for it goes to support vital conservation projects and funds.

This photo was taken by a pair of parahawking thrill-seekers in Pokhara, Nepal and it once again shows us how cool self-photos can get. Or, maybe it was the hawk, who asked those adventurers to make a photo of him?

16 The Winner of Monkey Selfie Contest

What happens when you go to Bali with a GoPro and suddenly get assaulted by a group of monkeys who take the camera away from you? Most likely they will just think that it's 'not food' and throw it away, but it's not the case with these monkeys. By looking into the eyes of the monkey which is making a selfie I get a feeling that it was planning this operation for months and by finally pushing the button on the camera it rejoices.

The monkey to the left though looks angry. Maybe she was supposed to make a selfie first but was beaten by the rival? No matter what really happened there, the result looks fabulous. Bravo to the owner of the camera who managed to get it back.

15 Sitting on a Shoulder of Jesus

Do you see people in the lower right corner of this photo? They are the ones who have a usual Rio's Christ the Redeemer experience, while the guy on the shoulder of Jesus is having a unique one.

This photo was taken by Thiago Correa, a Brazilian photographer who's been making offbeat photos since 2012.

'Standing atop the head of this famous and sacred monument was a feeling that is hard to put into words but as I looked down it felt like I had the world at my feet. I love exploring and going to these places, so really, the thrill was climbing to the top of the statue - the selfie was just a bonus,' he comments.

You can see more of his photos here.

14 Into the Sunshine

You've already seen a parahawking selfie, but a paragliding selfie (the same thing but without birds of pray) is no less entertaining. Imagine flying high in the sky and having a wonderful view wherever you look. And the landscapes on this photo are just amazing. The city on the right, the forest on the left, the river in between and mountains on the horizon.

This couple of adventurers are heading straight into the sun and turning their smiling faces to say hello to us and capture this magnificent moment which they will never forget.

Would you like to be in their shoes?

13 Underwater Genius

Let's take a closer look at this awesome underwater shot. You can see Chase Olson on it, who has just dived under a wave on his way to freedive with sharks. If that doesn't sound extreme to you, imagine that he's doing all of this with a camera to try to transfer to us at least some of the emotions that he's experiencing right now.

All the elements of this shot are just perfect, the pose of the diver, the bubbles of the incoming wave, the color of the tide and of course the background story of this photo. Just wow!

12 Nomination for the Most Epic Jump

Bungee jumping is not a type of entertainment which all people can handle. Especially those who are afraid of height or extreme activities. You prepare yourself to jump, you look down and your heart starts to beat faster. The jump itself is a feat and jumping with a selfie stick is even crazier!

Looking at this daredevil I doubt that he had any fear before jumping. Judging by the look in his eyes, he stands up in the morning, drinks a glass of orange juice and makes a bungee jump just for the sake of doing it. Well, let's be grateful to him for taking such an incredible shot.

11 That's How Real Stairway to Heaven Looks Like

Many of you know Led Zeppelin's famous song 'Stairway to Heaven', but how many you know that there's an actual place with such a name on our planet? It's located on Oahu, Hawaii and it's definitely the greatest attraction on the island. There are 3,922 stairs, most of which are on a vertical incline and there's only a hand-rail which keep you from falling into the valley. However, it doesn't frighten a couple of happy adventurers who took this selfie.

If you're brave enough to climb the Stairway to Heaven, you should be well prepared physically or it may turn into Stairway to Hell for you. If you aren't ready, you can just enjoy the selfie of these adventurous travelers.

10 Elephants Can Make Selfies Too...I Mean 'Elphies'

This big guy is much more friendly than those monkeys which we have discussed recently. Although he also snatched man's camera to make this 'elphie', he did it in a friendly manner and everyone was happy about it. Christian LeBlanc, a 25-year-old Canadian was lucky to become the owner of this unique shot in 2015 on a Thai island.

"My girlfriend and I were exploring the island when we came across a couple elephants,"he told CNN by email. "For 50 cents, you could buy a basket of bananas to feed them, so we decided to get one. Suddenly, an elephant grabbed my GoPro by the mount and I got the selfie of a lifetime, which I can't take full credit for," said Christian.

What a lucky guy he is.

9 Red Arrow Above Cyprus

This amazing photo captures the UK's Red Arrows display team during their flight above RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Red Arrows pilots fly at speeds up to 600 miles an hour, pulling up to 8Gs during difficult maneuvers. It's extremely difficult to take photos in this situation because, at 8G, everything weighs 8 times more.

The man who brought us this incredible photo is Katsuhiko Tokunaga. He is one of only ten air-to-air photographers in the world, and he has worked with the Red Arrows to get this stunning result. I recommend you to take a look at the complete photo shot here.

8 The First Selfie in Space

Before smartphones, before selfie became popular, before the existence of the word 'selfie' there was a man who made a first self-photo in outer space. It was Buzz Aldrin, a NASA astronaut who took this shot on a spacewalk in 1966. Today Buzz is 88 years old and that's how he recollects this episode of his life:

“I took a few pictures of things as we went over. And then I thought, I wonder if this could take a picture of me with the ultraviolet film. So I turned around, clicked the camera and it turned out pretty good!”

Thanks a lot for this photo, Buzz!

7 On the Top of the World

The peak of the Everest is a very hostile place which is called the 'death zone' because the altitude sickness makes people lose their minds. Nevertheless, people are ready to put their lives in danger to experience the awe of being on the top of the world. One of the most epic shots which reflects the incredibility of being there was taken by Dean Carriere. That's how he describes his experience:

"I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know how hard it would be. I had never climbed to 9,000 meters before and it wasn't that tough. I think I trained well for it and I planned well for it and it's a matter of being patient, especially on a long climb like that where you have to acclimatize. There weren't many tough moments, other than the duration of the climb which was 52 days. It was all pretty good."

We're also happy that it all turned out well.

6 King of Borocay

Boracay was such a beautiful place until it was destroyed by tourists. Luckily for us, this guy on a photo shot its beauty in one of the most unimaginable ways in this selfie. The color gradient of the water and the welcoming reflection of the sun make you want to jump into this piece of tropical perfection right after that guy.

Unfortunately, now Boracay is closed because of the harm is done to this island by tourists. Thousands of travelers have visited this little island until it became totally contaminated. I hope that after the authorities of The Philippines open it again, tourists will be more conscious and consider other 7,640 islands available in the country.

5 Irresistible Camel's Smile

This is one of those photos which you can take only once. Try to persuade a camel to smile and take a selfie with you and most probably it will just spit in your face. Guys on the photo are much luckier and it even looks like this camel is their life-long friend and companion.

This photo was taken at Giza, Egypt, by photographer Hossam, who didn't know that the camel was smiling for the camera until he checked the photos.

"We had been playing with it and feeding it shortly before I took the picture so I think it was happy to see us. It just happened by chance, we had no idea that the camel was smiling for the picture. It makes me feel so joyful every time I look at the picture. I think it is God's way of rewarding me," comments Hossam.

No wonder that this photo has gone viral overnight.

4 The Skyman

Meet Ralph Turner skydiving in a cloud sandwich and taking one of the greatest skydiving shots ever.

"It was a dream of mine since I was in my early teens to become a skydiver. I am 40 years old right now, so that means I waited a pretty long time to make my dream come true. The only regret I have is that I didn’t start skydiving sooner. I absolutely love this sport more and more each day," says Ralph.

The photo above has become the most liked photo ever on GoPro's Facebook web page, by reaching over 81,000 likes. Well deserved, Ralph.

3 Aquaman on Vacation

This man looks like Jason Momoa from the upcoming Aquaman movie, doesn't he? The fact that he's surfing only adds up to this suggestion, but let's focus more on the photo itself. Selfies in water and underwater are quite popular and it's easy to understand why. The magnetic energy of the water element, the feeling of adrenaline-driven action and the dedicated poses and serious looks of the people on these photos grab our attention the moment we start looking at them.

After all, it's all about emotions. Whatever the genre, if a photo is able to induce emotions, it's worthwhile. From this point of view, this surfer definitely deserves our attention.

2 The Sky is The Limit

Have you noticed that almost half of the photos on the list were taken in the sky? And it's plain to see why:

  • photos of people in the sky show the courage (and sometimes foolishness) of human beings
  • the view that you can get in the sky is magnificent and one-of-a-kind
  • photographers are free to choose any angle they want

This epic sky-diving shot once again proves us why sky selfies are so eye-catching.

But as Buzz Aldrin showed us, the sky is no limit. Just wait until you see the next selfie because it takes this idea to the whole new level.

1 The Sky Is No Limit for the First Selfie on Mars

We've seen enough of outstanding selfies with people and even some great selfies of the animals, so let's end this list with something more dramatic, namely a selfie of NASA's Mars rover 'Curiosity'.

Curiosity has provided Earthlings with much useful information about Mars. For instance, it took scoops of Martian soil and found that it's similar to volcanic soil in Hawaii. In September 2018, Curiosity has snapped a 360-degree shot of the Red Planet and now it continues to study the foothills of Mount Sharp, which was its primary mission before the rover launched.

I hope that after seeing these excellent examples of selfie photography, you can agree that this style has its own well-deserved place in the photographic arts' hall of fame.

References: NYDailynews, Bemytravelmuse, Animalogic, Daily Mail, Photo Pedagogy, Parahawking, Peta Pixel, Drop Zone, Telegraph