Much of my inspiration comes from what I see around me, Im fascinated by colour and natural light, body shapes, story telling photos that grab you and make you stare and ask questions. My understanding of the importance of composition came through art and spending time with my talented artist friends. Self portraiture was part of my learning ground...having always loved photography and looked in wonder at my Dad's images drying on a line, it was in 2006 when I took my first self-portrait, that a new journey began. I'd been inspired by others self portrait artists and became hooked at seeing their daily uploads, it made sense to join in. I undertook my first year of self portraiture in 2007. This was both a massive learning curve and an exciting adventure for me. I immediately learnt each photo is all about the light and composition, often the shapes made are more important than the content. Self portraiture enabled me to (very) quickly work out the best angle for a shot in any given location, playing the light to its very best. Id spend time dancing in a shard of light, or a cast shadow, making use of my surroundings. It was wonderful to have a purpose to take a photo each day and any ideas I had, the model (me) was always there ready and willing! am a self taught photographer, as in I have not studied photography formally. I've attended courses and workshops, that specifically targeted gaps in my knowledge over the years. I believe this to be an asset, an image is not right or wrong to me, my creativity and vision is simply turned into a photograph.
In 2009, I repeated the project but this time I focussed on the beautiful countryside around Hertfordshire, finding new and favourite places to shoot in. It was now more about a person in a landscape, or setting, rather than just a photo of me. Often I created an anonymity in the image, engaging the viewer, enabling them to identify with the photograph, they could imagine themselves, spinning in a barley field if that image had an obscured face. This is something I enjoy playing now, shooting others, a downward look, or the main part of a face out of shot. I'm often asked "who takes all those photos of you?" People who dont know my journey, tend to assume someone else has. They havent. I find selfportraiture an escape, a release, an excitement. I choose to be on my own and enjoy the whole process. Lugging tripod, to rural destinations and setting up is a drug, a sense of immense achievement when done. Using a remote timer, Id plug in a receiver to my camera and frame my shot, skipping back to review and try again if needed. When reviewing an image, I can tell instantly if its right. Sometimes looking at that small display screen Id get an adrenaline rush, it's then I cannot wait to return to my computer and begin editing. Doing this day after day is exhausting and when you set your sights high, is a tough call. The second year I did it, a simple bathroom mirror shot, just wouldnt do, if you are a creative like me, you want each photo to be better than the last. "How do you find the time?" I was often asked? I'd grab those moments between work and family life. Sometimes they would be planned, but mostly spontaneous. I'd be driving somewhere and just know "I have to return here and create an image" Self portraiture doesn't mean you are vain, or self obsessed. It's something I did - the rewards are immense, I have a visual diary of two years of my life, and the skills which help me on every shoot I now do. Clients that work with me always comment on how I can make the best of what Im working with, and capture that precious light. I've given photography talks on how I take my self-portraits, and also how things changed for me when Clients came asking for my services.
I'm passionate about photography and taking Clients photos, I get that same buzz and adrenaline when I have captured a frame of someone else that pleases me. I thought Id share how I made these images. One day during the self portraiture project I really had little time, just on my way out, I rotated my camera a bit and snapped myself with my hair moving across my face, a pop of green eyeshadow, clumsily smudged on...
I took a few of these shots, moving until the diagonal shape the gap in my hair pleased me.
This was the image I liked the best of my hasty self portrait.
A few days later an idea popped in my head to put my face on a book..I decided to take a photo holding this book, and to layer the previous image over it. I posed with the book with a window behind me and enjoyed the look it gave. This didn't work for me, the hair poking beneath the book looked too cluttered for what I knew my final image would be.
Moving my hair back, this next photo was the one I selected for the image "Face. Book" I loved the depth of field, and how insignificant my body looked, yet strong defined forearms holding the book outstretched.
I added the close up photo of myself as a duplicate layer in photoshop and using the Transform tool, I made it fit the shape of the book cover. I masked out my fingers so it looked like the image was actually on the book.
I often leave it to the viewer to interpret what Im saying...sometimes on reviewing an image a title will pop in my head, and it all makes sense. Often I wouldnt put too much pressure on myself but just setting time aside to shoot, walking with my camera gear through woods, I would spy some wonderful tree roots, and know instantly..."thats it"
"Hole in the wall"
If you want to see more of my selfportraiture you can view it all on my flickr set "365 Again".
These days I rarely take a self portrait and am often told by those who followed my project they miss seeing them. I'm busy taking photos of other people, but there will always be a big kick in taking a self portrait for me.