Part One: To Pose
I’m incredibly behind on posting. Let’s be real, it’s been a minute. However, I have a bunch of pictures to share and talk about. Generally I have showed them in order of when they were produced, but because I have so many, I thought I’d do things a little different this time.
I’ve been struggling with my main concept for this project. Yes, its self portraits, but to what extent? The last time in my life that I created self portraits I focused on the idea that the images were essentially not supposed to be me. Every picture I was playing a part. They were not just simply pictures of myself. Where I struggle this time is that I’ve given myself a more open ended type of project. This time I imagined each image should be a picture of me, and not someone I am pretending to be, but honestly this is proving to be much more difficult than I anticipated.
It’s really difficult trying to photograph honest depictions of myself. I’m constantly questioning how “posey” I should be and not wanting every single image to be a type of tribute to myself. I’ve learned I don’t want every single image to feel like it’s something from a catalogue. Not that that’s bad, but I think when you only create images like that of your self it creates another veil. On the other hand, creating really awesome pictures of yourself can also really help stimulate confidence. So like so many arguments, there’s two sides to this.
I think the challenge is more trying to create pictures of myself that are posed while not looking posed. I’m trying to create more or less a snapshot of my existence, taken by me, while it should not look taken by me.
In realizing this, I’ve decided that more of the images I make should be to tell a story about myself. Essentially, I’ll be playing the part of “me” in each image, but occasionally that will involve a more posed element. I swear this is a new thought process. The majority of my other images were more or less created under the idea of “is this a good and or interesting enough image,” and then, “why.”
This is a two part post. As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to go out of order of time and primarily focus on the different thought processes. This post will be focused on the clearly posed images. The ones that tell a little less of a story feel a little more out of a fashion magazine. My goal is to describe the thought process for each one and where I got the ideas to create the images you will see.
Part two will focus on the images that are meant to look a part of a story. The intention of them is to look like they could have been a real moment in time, and not posed. They will tell a story from more of a movie or documentary like perspective. I hope you all can see the difference, and I hope I can accurately describe why they’re different.
So let's dive in. I’ve got to say, I’ve been feeling myself lately with these posey portraits. Being posey for portraits is a lot of fun. There is a created sense of self that is easy to dive into. You can create literally any feeling you want in the image, and you can really emit a real sense of attitude or emotion that may not come across in less posed photographs or actual life snapshots. The only issue with this is it's usually not a real interpretation of self and emotion. Nonetheless, they’re fun to do.
The series with the turquoise background were taken on Valentine's Day. I had recently died my hair pink. Clearly it’s appropriate for the holiday but also I love when I have pink hair. I have some pretty prominent white hairs that I have let grow out over the years so when I put fun colors in my hair they really pop. On this particular day I happened to to be feeling pretty good, and I wanted to photograph that.
I decided to add to the color in my hair by having a colorful background for a fun sort of Seventeen magazine or Cosmo type feel. Then I did the high bun on top of my head for a cute, young sort of look. I took a lot of pictures. I think for this series I took the most pictures in one sitting then I have for any other series. I must have taken around 200 photos. I generally like to limit how many photos I take of myself in one session because I feel like it can be overwhelming to allow that much time spent taking photos of myself.
Part of the reason I took so many pictures was because I was having fun with it but it was also because I felt so stiff in the beginning. Despite my good sense of self on this day, I had a really hard time loosening up for these photographs. And then I would do something I really liked, but it would be off still because of one or two elements. I would then try to recreate said moment, and it wouldn’t work. Recreating moments that already work is so hard to do. Sometimes you just get it or you don’t. This particular image happened to be one of the last pictures I took, and I knew I was going to really like this one the moment I took it.
The images with the pink hair in the snow were created based off an image that was from a snippet of an ad for the master class for Annie Leibovitz. I LOVE her work. She is amazing and a huge inspiration. The image from the ad included a woman nestled in leaves from a large tree. Clearly I didn’t nestle myself in there, but I liked the idea of using leaves to create my backdrop. Then it snowed and I saw how the snow was resting on top so delicately. I liked the sort of contrast of bits of bright colors and snow.
I wanted to create a sort of “caught in another time” moment. I used the large pearls and faux fur coat mixed with the hair style and a bold lip to add a feeling to the image that could be something from the 50’s, but also I had pink hair at the moment so it added this awesome fashion feel that made me adore these photos. I would also like to add that while editing, I really pushed those pinks so that they would really stand out in the image.
With is finally being springtime and things are actually in bloom, I had to do some pictures of me lying in the flowers. I went to the National Arboretum with my forever adventure buddy Rachel on one of the most beautiful days with lots of little flowers in bloom. Besides this being a posed image, as an actual person, I definitely enjoy just laying about in grass and/or ground. If given the opportunity, that also includes flowers, but generally I’d say that the opportunity is less likely to be granted.
This sweater/leaf combo was difficult. The texture of the sweater was like some sort of leaf magnet. Every time I got up my entire back was covered with dry, itchy leaves. I had to take it off at some point just to try to get all the leaves off. Despite the wardrobe difficulty, the feel I was going for was sort of original animated Alice in Wonderland in the beginning of the movie when she is lying in daffodils. Unfortunately the amount of daffodils I had to work with was not as extensive as her field, but you do what you can.
The shadows that the flowers created on my face were also a neat element. Occasionally I like to play with the non-traditional beauty light element. With a “beauty light,” the idea is evenly distributed light on the face that creates natural contours on the subjects face. Look at a make up add in literally any magazine, that's the element I’m talking about. You would never see harsh, uneven shadows. I think in this instance the shadows add to the experience of being in the flowers. You can really tell that I’m in them and below them.
Walking around we found these tiny white flowers and I knew I needed to try to take pictures with them. They were so cute and dainty. As it turns out I’m not as big of a fan of these photos. They feel even more like they are posed; like I’m trying to take a selfie with the flowers instead of a more natural position with them, but they’re good enough to make the cut to talk about.
For most of these pictures I was very much in the mood to take photographs of myself each shoot. Some days I have a really tough time getting into the whole I’m gonna take pictures of myself now. The pictures with the black turtleneck was one of those days.
I had changed my skincare routine and my face was freaking out. I occasionally get eczema on my chin around my mouth and for years I’ve had it in check. When I changed up my routine, guess what decided to show up.
I was not excited to be in front of a camera. In addition to the eczema, I was stressed out from other life things, and then having eczema on your face does not help the emotional rollercoaster stress likes to induce. Fortunately, I had a happy accident. While I was getting dressed that day I put the turtleneck on, and naturally it got caught on my face. That’s when I realized there was the solution to not wanting to deal with my face in a photograph.
I fixed my hair and then put the turtleneck back up on my face. I decided a manic sort of expression was exactly what this picture needed due to my real life feelings and because I thought it was comical. I decided to put this in the “posed” portion of the breakdown because I think it’s more of a posed setting, but realistically it could fit in either category only because this image idea was created out of a real life situation.
The red bed series is the exact opposite of the turtleneck photos. I am confidant; I am angsty; I am sexy; I have no walls; I might fight you. I think it’s important to note that as I was creating these images, I was listening to music. All of my other photos have been taken with silence or just the sounds of life, but not music and especially not music I thoroughly enjoy like the Hives or Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers – who, by the way, is who I was listening to for this series. Music can really, REALLY help to bring personality out in your photos.
Besides my own photographs, I have done some modeling in the past. When the photographers would play music that I liked, I had such an easier time opening up for my images. I think that this is an important piece of information because I think out of all the photographs I have taken of myself, this series exudes confidence in a way that the other images do not. For me, it was more of how I felt personally as I was creating them. The turquoise images are close, but I had so many unsuccessful, stiff feeling images in the series of them whereas in this series so many felt like fire. So adding music to my shooting process is something I’m going to try to remember to keep implementing.
The idea for these red images was just something that sort of came into my head, and then I made it happen. Very much like the other successful images I had from my last post in the snow. Those ideas all came from some unknown factor, I had the idea for the image, and then I sought out to create it. My one critique with myself for this series is that the images are not as in focus as I’d like them to be. I had a really hard time with the slowly fading towards night, low lighting in the room – so also a really slow shutter speed. It was also not easy to focus the camera that was on a tripod on the wobbly bed. Then I was really trying to play with depth of field, and I wish I hadn’t. I tried my best to fix it but was not as successful as I had hoped for. Regardless, I really think these photographs are really successful because of the emotion and attitude they emit.
I’m torn whether or not I want to keep trying to produce very posed photographs. They have a real strength to them, but unfortunately lack the realism I’d like to also show off in my photographs. I’m just going to need to keep experimenting as the weeks go on. I like to think that I can pull off some sort of combination of the two ideas, but I guess when it really comes down to it, every single one of my self portraits are posed. I’m just trying to successfully pretend and make it seem like they are not.