Drawing upon the examples in Part Three and your own research, you can approach your self-portraits however you see fit. You may choose to explore your identity or masquerade as someone else, or use empty locations or objects to speak of your experiences. However you choose to approach it, use yourself – directly or indirectly – as subject matter.
In addition to looking into the photographers mentioned in the course notes plus others listed in my diary, I also consulted Susan Bright’s 2010 book Auto Focus.
Concept Development & Process
My diary for this assignment can be found here. After some time, I came up with the idea of a “non portrait”. This was partly in response to me not liking very much photos of myself and partly out of frustration about the lack of progress in this assignment. I had in mind a distorted image, showing motion. I made approximately 60 shots (see Contact Sheets) with a plain black background showing differing degrees of movement, head angle and expressions. My “picks” (shortlist) are indicated on the contact sheets. After reviewing several times the picks, I came down to one image – #44 – which illustrated my desire not to have a portrait. I cropped to square format because I wanted to focus on the subject (recognising the irony here) and converted to monochrome because I wanted a stripped-to-the-essence look and felt that colour didn’t add anything and if anything, confused the message. While taking the photos, a working title popped to mind: “Not a Portrait”. I decided to hand-write this at the bottom of the image because I was interested in experimenting with text as mentioned in my diary. I feel this works as relay text because plainly it’s in contrast to the image content and the two bounce off each other. I like the kind of tension and mystery it creates.
Following are my contact sheets with an indication of my “picks”.
1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills
In terms of techniques used, the process was fairly simple and no great challenge. I believe that I have achieved a simple, but effective design which focuses on the subject and conveys my intention.
2. Quality of outcome
In this assignment, I have managed to produce a powerful self-portrait which synthesises much of what I learned during this section of the course. I was particularly pleased to be able to try out the use of text in almost a “protest” mode. I believe my desire not to have a straight portrait comes through strongly.
3. Demonstration of creativity
I have tried to use a creative approach to the brief, revealing, but at the some time not revealing and also introducing tension via text.
My research into the self-portrait shows that there are many, many ways to approach the genre with some being particularly challenging (see Bright, 2010). After looking at a great deal of the work of other photographers, including other students, I believe my end result meets the brief, but appreciate that with creativity comes risk.
Bright, Susan (2010) Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography. London: Thames & Hudson
Wells, Liz (ed.) (2015) Photography: A Critical Introduction [Kindle Edition] From: Amazon.com (Accessed 23 Sep 2015)