What the f is Self-Portraiture?
The definition of self-portraiture is the act of capturing your own self in a desired effect. The earliest self-portraits can be found in prehistoric caves, where cavemen documented their survival. From caves to classical painters like Rembrant to tripods and triggers to selfie sticks and selfies (to me, selfies is a very small branch of self-portraits); it is human nature to document ourselves, to leave our legacy behind.
Here are some of my self-portraits:
Why the f would I do self-portraits?
Ever had a creative idea rush into you, and you get so inspired but you have no one to photograph? Be your own model! There is no better time than in the heat of the moment because it is next to impossible to recover the intense feelings and inspiration.
Self-portraiture is also a source of healing. My favourite example of this is of Jen Davis. She has been shooting self-portraits for 11 years, dealing with beauty, identity and body image.
Self portraits also allows minorities to break out of stereotypes and change the narratives that are said about them. Deana Lawson is a prime example. Even though her work is mostly portraits, she believes that self-portraiture should give you the opportunity to define who you truly are. " It's an opportunity to declare who you are visually and who you aspire to be." says Lawson.
How the f can I do a self-portrait?
All you need is camera and inspiration. A camera can be a phone, a point and shoot, or a borrowed DSLR; the story is king, not the camera. Find your light, set up the camera on a tripod/surface and find the timer option. Focusing is hard with a DSLR camera because in automatic mode, if you press the shutter on timer mode, it would focus on what's already in frame, not when it fires. To solve that, I grab another person/object/whatever and manually focus on them, mark where they were and then leave the camera in that position. That way when you fire the shutter, and it's focused on that plane of focus.
With everything set up, you can start firing away! I can't tell you what to do next because the session is all yours now. However, during the session, I want you to think about what story you're telling. What storytelling elements are in the frame? Lighting? Body language? Props? Keep these questions in mind whilst shooting. They will significantly improve your photographs if you hone each element.
Even if you are not a photographer or an artist, I highly suggest creating a self-portrait. No, a selfie won't count. It is very empowering to give yourself a voice and define yourself by your own means. You will even learn something about yourself. Tag me in them! I am always down to see more self-portraiture!
If you want to see more works, some of my favourite self-portrait artists are:
Kris Graver (not self-portraits of himself, but he gives the creative power to people of colour)
Photograph of Jen Davis: HOME : Jen Davis Photography. (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2017, from http://www.jendavisphoto.com/
Photograph of Deana Lawson and Quote: Wender, J. (14, February 14). SEEING THEMSELVES: PHOTOGRAPHERS’ SELF-PORTRAITS. The New Yorker, p. 1. Retrieved March 1, 17, from http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/seeing-themselves-photographers-self-portraits