Long before social media turned us into selfie-maniacs, photography was supposed to be a way to capture a moment and a memory. Now, selfies are just about showing off your tan and letting everyone know you went on that exchange trip to Paris.
Artist Stephanie Leigh Rose decided she wanted to get back to the roots of photography, so she decided to create a photo series where instead of taking selfies, she "dies." The photo series STEFDIES is thought-provoking and also downright hilarious.
Stefdies At The Golden Gate Bridge
Stefanie started the photo series as a performance art piece that is meant to be a chronicle of life. She says that the "anti-selfie" is meant to be thought-provoking and discuss mortality. She wants the person viewing the photo to participate in whatever way they might imagine.
Maybe when you see her 'lifeless' body on the rocks near the Golden Gate Bridge, you will start imagining the circumstances, or maybe it will help you remember what you might have done when you saw a famous landmark.
Stefdies At Myrtos Beach
Every photo in the STEFDIES series in completely spontaneous. There is no hair, makeup, wardrobe, or lighting that goes into the photos. All the images are improvised, which is why Stephanie calls them anti-selfies. Selfies are curated and taken in very controlled situations.
People will also take multiple—if not hundreds—of selfies before choosing the perfect one to share. The photos Stephanie shares are the only ones taken for that landmark. There are no re-dos in life, so Stephanie does no re-take any photos. If the one chance she has doesn't work out, then "c'est la vie."
Stefdies At The Eiffel Tower
People love the photo series and have focused on the fact that it's a reminder of our own mortality. One critic said that "seeing her in the photograph wakes up not only the image but us." It's almost as if the photos give us a chance to "die before we die."
Even if death is the focus, Stefanie's project isn't about death — it is about life. She hopes that the photos make people think about enjoying the next time they visit the Eiffel Tower because there's no way to know how many more visits you have left.
Stefdies In Sardinia
It might be about mortality, but Stephanie understands why people find the anti-selfies hilarious. For Stephanie, STEFDIES is a "character of its own" and since everyone interprets it differently, there is also a lot of joy and humor in it.
Stephanie said the photo series originally started as a humor project for her. In her early photos, she would capture the moment in places when she herself was truly exhausted and amused by the situation.
Stefdies In Cinderella's Castle
Stephanie says that the spontaneous nature of the photo makes them even funnier because, often times, bystanders are shocked and confused at what is happening. Even here, Cinderella can't believe that someone who came to meet her just fell to the ground and 'died.'
For Stephanie, most of the initial reactions to the photos were humorous because of how ridiculous the poses are or how shocked others in the photo look. For Stephanie, she just wants to keep bringing joy to people and stretching the imagination of her viewers.
Stefdies In A Fountain
Now, let's dive into the many different places that Stef has "died" because every picture will be able to take you to a different place emotionally. This picture shows one of Stef's most iconic pictures in a Paris fountain.
The dedication to this picture makes this even funnier. It's spontaneous and is only in one take, but the fact that she has to dunk her head into the fountain in public would be incredible confusing for the bystanders.
Stefdies At The Wynn Theatre
Since Stef started the Instagram account as a form of performance art, it shouldn't come as a surprise that she made her way to the Wynn Theatre in Las Vegas.
The theatre has been the home for many Tony-Award winning musicals which have been enjoyed by millions of spectators. Plays like Avenue Q and Monty Python's Spamalot have all seen their tragedies, but none as open and iconic as the one we get to see in this picture.
Stefdies At Santa's Workshop
To say that Santa and Mrs. Claus were expecting a death would be a long shot. Little do they know that Stephanie isn't looking for any material goods for Christmas — she's looking for everyone to stay in the moment.
All she's going to be asking Santa for is the power of "being present" and not just living life through her phone. It's different than what he's used to, but he's happy to be able to do it.
Stefdies In A Field After Free Falling
It's insane to think that people are now jumping out of planes and free falling with cameras on every part of their body. You can't skydive without having seven different lenses capturing every emotion that you have as you soar through the air.
Stef can be found "dead" on the ground with her parachute out but still attached. The landing is always the scariest part of skydiving. The people getting their lesson have no idea what's in store for them.
Stefdies At Seven Sisters
This picture shows Stef a little bit farther in the background at the Seven Sisters Country Park by the English Channel. Each cliff has a different name like Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow, Brass Point, Flagstaff Brow, Bailey's Hill, and Went HIll.
It's a beautiful area and the name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their center on an area known as Page-Green.
Stefdies At Tuileries Garden
Stef died in the Tuileries Garden which is located between the iconic Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It was created in 1564 and was a private garden until 1667 when it became public. Naturally, that opened the door for this STEFDIES picture.
This has to be one of the most comfortable pictures for Stef laying on a nice patch of green grass and a bed of soil in one of the most famous gardens in Europe.
Stefdies In The Mile High City
If you're going to die in America, it might as well be somewhere that's as beautiful as Denver, Colorado. Not only does it have some scenic rivers, but it also has the Rocky Mountains, which are incredible and should be in consideration for the eighth wonder of the world.
We should give Stef some big props because she got into a river face down in water that probably most people wouldn't even put their feet into. Way to go Stef.
Stefdies In A Doughnut Shop
If there's one place that you would want to "die" it would be in a doughnut shop. There are many other restaurants that might have a little more room to lie down, but no Olive Garden or Chuck-E- Cheese would even come close to smelling as good.
I hope that Stef at least took the time to indulge in one of those glorious pastries before paying the ultimate price of having her face anywhere near that dirty floor.
Stefdies In A Marathon
Laying down for a picture near a marathon is probably the most relatable place Stef has ever 'died.' Laying down with half of your body in a fountain is weird and the optics from passersby would be hilarious.
People who are looking at Stef lay on the ground probably just think that she's exhausted from all that running, and can anyone really blame her? I wouldn't be surprised if someone just walked by and squirted a little bit of water in her mouth and went on with their day.
Stefdies At Brunate Lighthouse
STEFDIES decided to take her talents to the Brunate Lighthouse in northern Italy, just northeast of Milan. It overlooks the town of Como and was the home to Alessandro Volta (the inventor of the electric battery) for a short time.
We have to figure that Stef wanted to have a great vantage point for when she lays face down on the cobblestone. If she's going to be "dead" she might as well be at a high altitude.
Stefdies At Notre Dame
Stef made her way to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral and decided to do her thing. It's incredible to think that so many people will go to these landmarks and not even really take the time to look at them.
They snap a few pictures, post them to their social media accounts and move on with their day. A structure like Notre Dame needs to be fully taken in and embraced, which most visitors to the site just don't seem to do.
Stefdies At The Kotlujokull Glacier
This is probably the coldest place that STEFDIES has taken her performance art. She went to the Kotlujokull Glacier in Iceland and it's absolutely stunning.
We have to assume that after Stef spent some time face down in the snow, she quickly made her way to one of those natural hot springs that look bluer than the sky. Interestingly enough, she's not the only person to "die" in these glaciers, as Game of Thrones and Star Wars were both filmed in those natural wonders.
Stefdies With Friends At An Art Gallery
You know what? If you're going to "die" you might as well "die" with one of your friends. STEFDIES certainly followed this rule as she brought one of her friends with her to an art gallery.
This is a picture of art looking at art in an art gallery. If there's going to be an Inception 2, it's safe to say that it needs to involve Stef and her friend doing art in front of art in an art gallery.
Stefdies Under The Big Cat
This is the scariest place that Stef decided to lay down. If you've ever been around cats, you know that they will pounce on any vulnerable human. Cats are slowly taking over the world, and Stef is really taking a risk by laying in front of this massive, very real cat.
We didn't get an update on Stef's well-being but for the sake of the human race, we hope that she was able to make it out alive.
Stefdies Pushing Her Friend In Wheelchair
Steph "died" while pushing this woman in a wheelchair in the middle of a parking lot. Not only is there probably some old sun-soaked gum on that pavement, but there's also a police officer in the background probably very confused as to what he or she should do.
Seeing someone just laying in the middle of a parking lot is usually a bad sign, but in this case, STEFDIES is just trying to make people be more present and alive when they spend time with their friends.
Stefdies At Etna Volcano
While Steph hasn't been able to travel much during the pandemic and shared with her followers that she was staying home and staying isolated, she has enough photos in her archive to keep people entertained.
It looks like she's lying face down in a field of mud, but there's a volcano under there somewhere. The Italian Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano, but it hasn't had a major eruption since 1999.
Stefdies In Key West
Steph's underwater snapshot taken in Key West is a friendly reminder to everyone not to drink and dive while on your next vacation (whenever that may be.)
We can only imagine what the setup to take a photo like this must have involved, or maybe she was lucky enough to have someone with her to help out with the photo. The people in the water nearby were probably more than a little concerned about what she was doing.
Stefdies In Isola d'Elba
You're going to be hard-pressed to find a person who would say that the view of just about anywhere in Italy isn't worth dying for, and Steph is proving that to be true with her photo at Capoliveri.
Isola d'Elba (the island of Elba) is the Italian island where Capoliveri is located, which is one of the liveliest towns in Elba. Hopefully, this isn't the end result of one-too-many drinks.
Stefdies At The National Monument Of Scotland
While it's obviously her in the photo, Steph feels that "STEFDIES" is a character on its own, outside of her. Since it started as an art piece, she wants people to "interpret the scenes as they wish" as they would when watching any other character.
She feels that part of the joy and the humor behind her character is no one knows exactly what is going on, and "that's pretty much a direct reflection of life."
Stefdies On Bourbon Street
A major motivation for the project is also to inspire others to recreate their own version of a @stefdies photo.
"A selfie has controlled conditions, specific lights — it is a contrived and manipulated image distorted to achieve a desired result." Steph aims to be the opposite of that idea, taking her one shot in whatever circumstance happens, then moving on. Even if that means falling face first in the middle of Bourbon Street.
Stefdies At The Monument Des Droits De L'Homme
In honor of celebrating Bastille Day during the pandemic, Steph reached deep into the archives for a photo of her laying at the Monument des Droits de l'homme, which she initially took in 2014.
The artist says she has taken over 1,000 photos. Considering that she strives to not take multiple shots in one location and just accept the first photo she gets, she must have traveled to a lot of locations!
Stefdies In A San Francisco Toilet
You would think that people around her would wonder what she is doing when she takes the selfies, but Steph says the reaction varies depending on where she is.
In Paris, for example, Steph says that no one even noticed what she was doing, or if they did they didn't pay her any attention, simply assuming that she was "a crazy artist." That was ideal because it allowed her to "run around the city" without feeling self-conscious.
Stefdies In Matera
Some of the photos that Steph posts feel like you're reading a "Where's Waldo?" book at first glance. It can be hard to find where exactly she is in the photo, but she's always hiding in there somewhere.
It's harmless when there's no other tourists around, but we have to wonder if anyone has ever stumbled across her or stepped on her when they weren't paying attention to where they were working. It's a hazard of the job.
Stefdies In Milwaukee
Though Steph is an artist and she considers @stefdies to a separate character, the artist is also aware of her followers and aims to keep her photos as appropriate as possible, mostly for the younger people who follow her.
"Many school groups follow the STEFDIES series, as they consider it a good tool to teach young adults there are alternatives to the perfectionism of selfies and online culture" according to Steph.
Stefdies At The San Diego Zoo
The animals of the San Diego Zoo petting area seem to be just as confused by Steph's performance art as human observers in other places, but that's not going to slow her down.
Stefdies doesn't seem to be slowing down her pursuit of the anti-selfie anytime soon, and she encourages everyone else around the world to participate along with her! We just hope that she made sure to find a relatively clean spot on the zoo floor.