Assignment 3: Putting yourself in the picture.
Preparation: I kept a diary for a few weeks and however when I reviewed it I thought it was more of a list of events and activities than a real insight into me (Sport: Running, rowing, tennis, gym work, travel, holidays and social events). By this time I had been reading and researching photographers who had embraced self-portraiture and I was perhaps feeling a little braver. I had never liked the idea of self-portraiture and will do everything I can to stay out of photographs, so had toyed initially with using shadows or what I now know is self-absenting portraiture. However I could see also that self-portraiture could be useful for self-exploration, and being a reflective creature I thought I would challenge myself.
I came up with the idea of presenting the hidden me that is not in the diary but runs underneath the events in the diary, even before I had finished my research. At the end of my research I realised that my idea of the hidden me actually chimed with others like Claude Cahun, Gillian Wearing, Trish Morrissey and Daniela Rossell who have explored their multiple selves.
This was my initial brainstorm for the hidden me:
As I moved on from here my ideas focused around how to in self- portraits represent my multiple inner selves: The Peacemaker, The Lover, The Escapist and The Organiser. I considered props, mirrors, and fragments of myself as I thought I would need some disguise or masking. I decided to use some props not so much as to hide but to represent ideas around each self. I toyed with collage and photomontage but decided in the first instance to try shooting the ideas in one image. Whether I would fully embrace putting myself in the picture to explore my identity remains to be seen but I had the motive and intention.
Shooting notes: Self-portraiture is harder than it looks! I began with “The Organiser”, set the shot up at my desk with props, selecting just my hands/arms to be in shot. Using a new remote camera trigger I played with various focal lengths and orientations, though I wasn’t wowed with the outcomes. Next I shot “The Escapist” trying out different props but ultimately settled on camouflage gear and background, bars, a key and a watch only to create the narrative. “The Peacemaker” took a lot of setting up but less shooting once I had everything as I wanted, as I was very sure of the final image I was looking for. It was just my hand positioning that took time to capture as I wanted. Finally “The lover”, which took many more shots to achieve what I wanted. I then reshot “The Organiser” using a magnetic board and myself in a upright position and experimented with including some of my head, as I felt that compared to the other three images only using my hands/arms was too minimal. I tried all images with and without a speed light and settled without where I could be sure there would be no movement (“The Peacemaker” and “The Lover”). It was a coincidence that three out of four of my chosen images were shot at an aperture of f/8 but my range was only f/8 – f/11 as I wanted to get as much of each image in focus. The focal lengths ranged from 28mm to 63mm but those with a body or head shot were mostly around 50 mm as this what I found the most comfortable distance from the camera and enabled me to play with the composition the best; I did shoot closer where it was just my hands.
Shooting Mind map:
Editing: When editing for The Organiser I thought about choosing an image with the back of my head as well as my arms and hands as I felt that would sit in the series better, though ultimately I decided to just show hint of my hands. These were the last 2 images that I eliminated:
The Escapist was easier to edit as I had only a few images out of those shot where my head was in the correct position once I had arrived at the best composition with only the bars, key and clock as props.
The choice of image for The Peacemaker was decided by the nature of my hands as I wanted to convey caring. The hands were difficult to get right as the vase when full of oil and water was heavy, even though I had eventually balanced it on a table in front of me. I think the image I chose illustrates me cupping and wrapping round the vase and the peace lilies as opposed to its closest runner where my hands and torso look more tense:
Final image 13 Not used Image 19
I had the most images to choose from for The Lover as I had experimented the most, having to allow for movement and retakes and had returned to my set up several times after reviewing images. I narrowed it down to:
Image 63 or Image 48
Eventually I decided that the image that I wanted to share would actually be conveyed better by a close up and so I tried cropping each of these tighter towards me and eliminating foreground; these were more effective and I also settled on a square crop for the whole series as I felt this suited the concept of the “hidden me” better. I don’t usually crop to this extent but I felt justified as the results were what I wanted.
Editing Mind map: