Create a series of six images of ‘you’ that show different ‘selves’.
Frightened by the quote marks, I went off on an extensive search for the best approach. At first I was quite keen to do the series in black and white, partly because I thought I might like to print them – just for me of course, not for submission. I am drawn to the slightly surreal and intriguing but it’s tricky to avoid outright contrivance and wacky-for-the-sake-of-it. I found Ben Zank’s work amusing:
There are readings to be had here, not too literal but with a plausible connection to an actual ‘self’. I can see that his work could be considered trite and affected but even so, Ben is a hard worker and it shows –
“The only way you can grow is by putting yourself out there every day”
Mirrors are a reliable, if somewhat hackneyed device, and the mirror self-portrait holds a notable place in the selfie firmament:
But it probably works best if you’re a person of interest. I don’t think that the mirror shot says a great deal about the photographer other than showing us what they look like holding a camera.
Susiraga has made her ‘self’ her only subject. She has found a rich vein of material within and isn’t afraid to use it. The photographs she makes of herself are direct, self-deprecating (it seems) and somewhat alarming – the colour is brash, the lighting uncompromising and the result is a series of immediate and challenging pictures. In most, Iiu looks directly to camera, confronting the viewer with the returned gaze of one who is accustomed to scrutiny.
I like the way Susiraga exposes herself – in the sense of laying bare her self both as her corporeal presence and her emotional vulnerabilities. This is something I’d like to use in this short series. My offering can’t come close to matching the extent of Susigra’s work but it might work as a snapshot of me.
By this point I have decided to stay in colour. Here are the six I made of ‘me’ and my ‘selves’. (click me)
Will these pictures benefit from any kind of elucidating text or are they best left on their own? Any text might provide a shortcut to meaning, but that doesn’t feel quite right with self portraits, which seem to be more of a present to oneself. I have added something like that right at the bottom of this post so scroll down if you want to see it. In the meantime, I will relate some details of the process.
I’m happy to dress-up so this provided an ideal opportunity. I like props in pictures, along with gesture and intrigue. I’m aware that these characteristics are not currently vogue-ish features of student photography but I’m happy to stray a little occasionally.
I had a watering can of very cold water poured over me; I should have warmed it up first. Both the pourer and clicky assistant were up stepladders but they were pinned down quite securely. The angles meant that the camera had to go on the top step with a makeshift mount, because it needed to tilt down quite a lot and had to be perfectly still so that the various exposures could be composited simply. The compositing is just simple masked layers, so you can ‘see the join’ if you look very closely but I don’t think that matters too much .
King Canute is a straight shot with just a touch of sky burnt in. I have kept the crown…you never know.
The woods picture is again a simple comp.
It’s harder than I expected to get a decent ghoul ‘drape’. I did this solo and had to keep de-ghosting to check what it looked like.
The railway/bridge one is another multi exposure where I used an over exposed image to get detail in the arch. That’s enough exposure.
The final picture was made tethered into a program which allows an overlay image to be placed on the live view. I did this in order to get the pose and positioning as good as possible.
Each of these pictures represents a certain aspect of my identity, I construe that as an amalgam of experience, heredity and personality.
“Why does it always rain on me” – I am sometimes prone to a little self-pity. It’s not an appealing characteristic and I try to swim out of it as soon as I can
“When I ruled the world” Like many nineteen-year-olds I was pretty omnipotent. Waves, no problem. Now I lean towards the alternative view of Canute: he was demonstrating that there are some things even kings cannot control, so stop fawning.
“Wood for the trees” Another occasional failing
“Spectre” Assessing my risk factors and not liking it.
“Broke down engine” One of those dreams that come back time and again.
“Sleeping by the Mississippi” I share a number of Soth traits, but it seems I lack the one which produces pictures in his league.