Creative Workshop 1: The Self Portrait
Pre-visualize and produce a self portrait [using only available light*] unrestricted in theme and technique yet still supplying a message to the viewer. You should spend time first understanding what it is you wish to convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production.
Alternative/additional task: The Distributed Self Portrait
Speak with you close friends, family, partner. Ask them to describe you – your qualities, traits, personality. Use these results to create a self portrait that is informed not by your own representation, but how others see you. Again, you should spend time first understanding what it is that you are being asked to convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production.
Is this a fair representation of you? How much did you try to ‘override’ their comments through the image making process? Is personality internal or external?
The Self Portrait
To say I got a little confused between the assignments and the class workshop working with natural light is an understatement, which ended up by me presenting my view of me with artificial light as the Additional Task, when in fact it is the Self Portrait. What I wanted to convey is my current headspace and expectations and responsibilities around me that I feel are impeeding on my creative outlet/being me. I am currently out of full time work having been made redundant so there are financial, social, familial pressures around me, sometimes getting me down. I have always wanted to have a go at using projection as part of the photograph, having done video installation work before (main inspiration Bill Viola).
In creating the image, I wanted to appear part of it, for the projection to be almost 3 dimensional, hence the leaving in of the trees and the lamp, to give the impression of the dementors being around me, not just behind (thanks for the Harry Potter screen grab)
In the creation of the photograph, I would be replacing the foreground character, which then gave me the ironic situation of not ‘chasing the light’, instead I had to dodge the light to not appear overexposed by the harsh proectors lamp. Also the angle of the projector was producing too much of my own shadow so I inverted the image to get a direct light and side-lit my face with a small torch from my iPhone off to the right which gave a more balanced light for my face. I liked the resulting position of the lamp as it looks like the bright area of the projection is eminating from it. Final image below. Click for full screen view.
The Distributed Self Portrait
After looking, reading and listening to the information given on the PicBod website for the first assignment, some suggestion from the community and my own thoughts around my own insecurities, I began to get comfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera. I have a history of being a performer, an actor, a different personality, so to strip that away and be myself was going to be interesting. I like portrait photography in relation to capturing the essence of my subjects, I understand the concept of objectifying and I also understand the concepts of abjectism presented by Dr Adrienne Evans. I identified with the photographing insecurities post, is this is where I am coming from, but at the same time, listening to what other people think, what I think, what we both see in respect of producing a photograph using natural light (blurred lines again!).
Externally I have been involved in activism and standing up for people’s rights. I hold a very loyal standpoint with my friends and family and also a stubborn point of view sometimes within my morals and ethics. I am genuine and natural, with strengths and flaws. I am male, white, gay and differently abled through my Polands’ Syndrome. I am subject to vilification through my sexuality and physical appearance which effects my own self esteem, though for others, when I am able to look beyond that, I am a strong supporter.
In the effort to look at myself through the eyes of others, I use my affected hand, my ‘strong hand’ (sic) to form the fist. Against a background of natural wood, as that is what I am, there is nothing false or created or ‘chosen’. The wood had a beautiful patina, reflecting the natural light coming through the window and I wanted to imitate that in my hand, to give the image a natural sheen, blending the two surfaces together. To achieve this I added a fresh layer of polish to the wood and some silicone lubricant to my arm. Initially I wanted to show the fist or the hand as the subject against the background, but when reviewing the images I had captured, the way that the arm flows with the grain and colour of the wood, even though the hand is almost out of frame, made me choose this image as it successfully blended the two surfaces more than I had originally planned. Final image below, click for full screen view.
Have to be realistic now home and under responsibilities…
Have a look-see and please pass on to whomsoever may be interested thanks.
Am going to be doing a reflective post about the last few months soon too, so keep watching
After leaving Pisa behind, I went and spent a relaxing week by the seaside in Viareggio. The camper stop was free as it was on the side of a pine-lined road in between the trees. Easy to get in to, but the ridge between road and off-road nearly gave me an anxiety attack!
The road was about 1km from the seafront where there was another kilometre of restaurants, pubs and clubs. Along my pine clad road were hidden camp sites and holiday parks, the contents of which took the use of Italian roads to the next level! The steady stream of revellers returning to their accommodations of an evening were accompanied with a cacophony of car horns as the unlit road filled with unlit pedestrians and cyclists alike. Thankfully my little key-chain torch – a tescos 99p extravagance – saved me from accident or rebuke.
I travelled further south to Cescina, up over the hilly coast roads, down to the promise of long quiet sandy beaches on the med, and emptying and refilling of camper supplies at a pay site. On arriving I paid the attendant for four nights and went exploring.
After several hours walking on packed shingle beaches, going from one resort to the next, the quiet sandy beach still eluded me. Rows upon rows of deck chair regimented filled spaces for about 5km each side of the camper. The seemingly purpose built resort, the village was 3km inland, heaved with the seasonal tourists come out from the nearby towns and cities. The shingle beach had burnt and blistered 4 of my toes and having then to walk the 3km in to town and back for supermarket near finished me off. What did finish me off was the unavailability of services to empty the camper, the neighbouring gun club on one side and very loud p.a. system permanently on the go on the other and the car-park style parking system on site that didn’t allow my windows or the neighbour’s doors to be open at the same time in 36 degrees heat.
The next morning I tried my luck at getting a refund on my blistered toes and heading back inland, but to no avail. Still, if I recouped my loses with a few days in Vinci nothing would be lost. The brilliant colours of the scenery that greeted me in this typically Tuscan landscape would not let me get disheartened for long.