Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Self in Portraiture

I'm trying to branch away a bit from the self portraiture. Despite comments from people like Theo Boehm and generally good feedback on what I produce, I still have to work hard to defend this theme, and it is tricky. Anything about the "self" is seen as vain and self-obsessed. And when this is developed through a visual medium such as photography it becomes even more hightened because in our socity we interpret anything visually to do with "the body" as sexual. It is presumed that you are saying "i look great and therefore you should look at me". I'm not saying that.

I don't see why self portraiture is any different from writing a blog about my life, status updates on facebook, or generally just making myself visible in cyberspace. At the end of the day it's all about "Me". In fact I would argue the choice of photography is a lot less in your face, no spelling out what you mean just interpretation by others and you're not going to get any deep and meaningfuls about my life here! Self-portraiture is a means via which I can explore my new found hobby. I can use it to dabble with different styles and different topics, without feeling the pressure of producing something someone else is happy with. I don't think this type of vanity screams "look at me". In a wierd kind of schizophrenic way I take on the roles of both subject and photographer, trying to express something that is both about me and distant from me. In a way any photograph I take is about me, whether it is of me or not. It is my therapy, its what keeps me stable, it's what I do when I'm happy or when I'm sad, it's a constant when life can seem all over the place. But I never post a picture because I want you to sit up and take notice of me as a topic, or how I'm feeling, I post a picture because I believe it to be a good photograph.

But still I want to start diffusing my photography with other subjects. Why? Because I want to do it for me. It is not easy trying to direct another subject that you are photographing - friend or stranger. I always get this feeling of anxiety...are they getting annoyed with me, are they comfortable, will they like what I do, what if the photos don't come out ok? Portrait photography is a really hard skill for me that I want to develop, not so much in the technicalities (which I also have to work on) but in terms of confidence. Once I master it, you never know, may be I'll get some commissions and get that sexy telephoto lens and the flash lights I want!

So armed with camera, lenses, and a variety of vintage clothing (genuine Topshop and Primark) I embarked on the train to meet my friend at a countryside location to give it a whirl. The situation was helped by the fact that we have both been under quite a bit of stress lately and decided that we deserved a play date which also involved girl talk, DVDs and takeaway, so it wasn't all "sit like this" and "look this way", J took photos too so it was all fun and good. The theme was vintage, and this is what we came up with. Collaborative effort and a lot of fun and a lot learnt! More on our "tea party" theme to follow when I've done the post-processing. As usual the best are on my Flickr photosteam (along with a totally random spooky photo we did). These are the 'nearly' good enough ones to put up.

Photographs of me taken by Justine. All post processing done by me using Michelle Black's Vintage actions.

sighhhhh and instantly on posting to flickr she gets the "Add your photo to the HOT or NOT" pool" request. You will be blocked!

1 comment:

Monkey Mind said...

I hear you on the self-expression v narcissism...all a bit blurred really. The most incredible artists are usually the most self-obsessed depressives; I would say a dose of self-centredness is crucial to any art.

Loving the pics! Although, as I have said, I think that a little bit of bags/shadows is useful to make more sense of the expression.

You could definitely put a couple more of yourself on Flickr, but we'll see how the rest go and only if they pass the 'good photograph' test! x