The purpose of this exercise is explained in the first part of this post (see here), where I consider the idea of personality. This post shows the photos I made in response to the exercise.
Before shooting these photos, I read a book that’s been sitting on my book shelf in anticipation of the next self-portraits I would make; The camera I: Photographic self-portraits (follow link for post on the book). I found the book a help in adjusting my mindset to self-portraiture, which I’ve previously found a very difficult exercise. The book analyses the psychological challenges in making self-portraits as well as showing over 100 self-portraits by the greats of photography. Two aspects helped me in particular:
- Recognising that self-portraiture is an act – my internal self having a conversation with my surface; we are separate and there is no need to be puzzled and distracted about feeling self-conscious with oneself.
- There are just three general types of self-portraiture: delineation (straight representation of one’s own lines), distortion (for example through a mirror or other reflection), and disguise (pretending to be someone else, eg through dressing up or other disguise).
For this exercise, I decided for simple delineation along with a conversation with myself about aspects of my personality mentioned in part a) of this post – to see if that would elicit a response on the surface of my face.
Simple pop-up studio made with foam board and gaffer tape, with a black cloth drape. Camera Fuji X-T1, xf60mm f/2.4. Single flash light with shoot-through umbrella.
Click to open larger image files
- #1 crosses over into the ‘disguise’ type; it is an act of despair, shot in very low light. I am not a natural actor – I would need to practice acting skills to get into this area to any extent!
- There are a number of images that feature hands alongside the face to help with self-expression. Our hands are naturally expressive; for example they automatically calm or protect us. This could be an area of further exploration – ’emotional hands’.
- A few images feature props – my lighting set-up dummy (‘Ethel’), a guitar, a jacket for warm-weather travel, and a camera. These could be used to explore my relationship with a personal interest (though Ethel could draw dubious inferences). What we choose to do with our time and our lives contributes towards the uniqueness of our personalities.
- The images are deliberately stripped of context in the pop-up studio. In future I will explore contextual set-ups – for example like Bill Brandt’s work shown here.