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Did LA Photographer Invent The Selfie? Lester Wisbrod Says Trend Takes From His Decades-Old Technique

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The selfie craze has people snapping pictures of themselves in all kinds of places, doing all sorts of things.

But don’t say it’s a “new” trend.

CBS2’s Stephanie Simmons reports Lester Wisbrod insists he’s been taking selfies with celebrities for more than three decades.

The now-retired Los Angeles-based photographer began his adventure collecting the shots back in 1981, while doing interviews with stars.

“I always felt that I started it. But when I started it, I didn’t think it was gonna take off,” Wisbrod said. “I had so many out of focus pictures from handing people cameras, I thought this is a self-focusing camera I can do better than handing it to somebody else.”

Using a 35mm camera, Lester didn’t have the luxury of instant review, so not all of his selfies turned out perfectly.

In his first-ever with Art Buchwald, the developer even put a sticker on the print saying “no charge” because the image was so blurry.

“I just improved in the technique, realizing that I had to get the heads closer together and that way the focus would be right on, it would miss us,” he explained.

The technique also helped Lester develop a rapport with his interviewees.

“It would change their whole persona. They would get chummier, friendlier, you know just silly. That’s why I called them silly shots,” he said.

From politicians, to TV and movie stars like Betty White, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg and even Pope John Paul II, Lester has rubbed elbows – and touched cheeks – with some of the biggest celebrities.

Within the pile of hundreds of photos, a few still stick out.

“Certainly Ronald Reagan would be one of the more memorable ones – and Nancy,” he said.

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