Sunday, February 24, 2008

Me, Myself, and I – An Eclectic Relationship

It took me a really long time to get the nerve to big taking self-portraits, though I brought my tripod along with me to Egypt because I knew it would happen eventually, more so because I would miss photographing people rather than just the urge to take on the challenge.

I have always really admired people who are avid self-portraitists. Taking self-portraits is a challenge, because you have to be an excellent photographer and an excellent model to get a really great photo, and it is definitely hard to do both at the same time. My two favorite self-portraits are Lara Jade and Diana Pinto – they’re both superb at it, and Diana in particular is willing to make some sacrifices for her photos that a model might not be willing to do, such as wear a string of steaks as a necklace or pour black nail polish on her face and photograph as it drips down her forehead. I also really enjoy Alli Jiang – her self-portraits are more artistic than fashion based, like I would say Lara and Diana’s are, and that makes them electrifying.

One thing I like about self-portraits is that you will always allow yourself to be used for a shot that isn’t necessarily flattering to your look, if it is artsy. Don’t get my wrong – I love making people look beautiful in my photos, but sometimes beauty must be sacrificed to give the picture an equally exhilarating, but less pretty, tone or mood.

I took one self-portrait when I first got here, and though it’s a nice picture or whatever, it doesn’t have the interesting edge I like my photos to have, so I decided to leave self-portraiture. Here is my first self-portrait ever:

Since, I have been trying to continuously improve my self-portraiture technique. It’s a little hard due to limited resources and being limited to the house, since I am a little afraid of setting up a tripod outside and just photographing myself, especially since I live in Egypt. I joined the Flickr 365 days project though, and this has been encouraging me to at least give it a try, even if I don’t always do one a day. It’s been really great so far, as otherwise I might just be letting myself go as I wait for my new camera. It keeps my brain functioning and thinking about what I can photograph myself doing and where. Here’s what I have done so far:

Day 1: The Difference between dark and light

Day 2: She Spider

Day 3: Protect Me From What I Want

Day 4: The End of the Line

Day 5 The Apparition in the Mirror

I like them alright, but of course feel like there is room for improvement. I really had wanted to use my cool geometric shape carpet in a shoot and I finally did in “The End of the Line.” I feel like this project will allow me to develop myself as a photographer and I am eager to do this. Also, I think that every picture will show a little bit more about you, which is nice. I think the viewers should be allowed to peak into the photographer’s personality, if only a little bit.

“The Apparition in the Mirror” needs some photoshoping to get the eerie mood I was going for, but unfortunately, I don’t know much photoshop beyond photo retouching. I tried, as you can see, but I may save the original for later…That is actually what my closet here in Cairo, Egypt looks like. The landlord was nice enough to bring me one, because my room just didn’t have one and wasn’t supposed to, so I am thankful, despite the broken mirror. As soon as I saw it – vintage and clearly once beautiful but now beaten and ugly– I knew I would be able to use it for some photos.

In case you’re interested in knowing, most of these were taken using only natural light coming from my window, and sometimes I turned on the room light as well. This would have been a problem had it not been for the slow shutter speed + the tripod. This is also the reason some of these photos are side-lit…the window is only on one side of my room!

Oh, and since this blog is like my photography “behind the scenes,” here’s my favorite outtake from the “The End of the Line” shoot with myself. I liked the playfulness of the pose, but in the end I liked “The End of the Line” better.

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