Self, this year
I usually make a list of resolutions, or things to improve, in any new year. And then I maybe last a few weeks before I fall back into my old patterns. It seemed more honest not to make any resolutions anymore, but to instead take it one little bit at a time, and to strive to just be a better Me.
For my work, however, I do have bigger plans this year. I used to take photos almost every day, and I’d sit at my computer enthusiastically editing my photos and sharing them on sites such as flickr, and deviantART. I really loved having this, being able to do this – having the tools and the time. I miss it. I miss self-portraiture the most because it was both an escape (I could be someone else and tell their story) as it was a way to document, well, myself. Taking landscape photos calms me; taking self-portraits challenges me unlike anything else.
I started taking self-portraits maybe in 2004, so when I was only 21 years old and had a lot to figure out still about who I was and what all of these emotions meant. There were definitely a lot of emotions (and humor, too) in the self-portraits taken by my younger self. While I do feel some of them were a reflection of the real me, I am now just very aware of how young I still was. At some point I felt like I expressed everything that I could. And then when life took a few turns for better and worse I needed clarity and direction more than I needed vague imagery and metaphors. During what was hands down the hardest time in my life, I chose direct words and I chose privacy. It helped me tremendously, but it put a stop to my creativity.
I’m a little more grounded now at almost-33, and now that I have either more life experiences that I’ve learned from and put behind me, or more life experiences that I carry with me every single day but forge through, I finally feel like I’m ready to tap into my creative side again. There is room for it again in my life now that I found my way back and found direction. I can afford this luxury.
So I’m going to work with a year long self-imposed assignment I first attempted to do in 2014: to work on a self-portrait (singular or series) weekly based on themes that both interest me, and challenge me. I want to make sure I work with subjects that I like, while also trying to do things very differently from how I used to do them. Different lighting, different editing, mixed media, at some point maybe different locations. I’m also trying to keep my current enthusiasm going by taking cellphone pictures regularly during the process, so that I’ll at least have proof (for myself mostly) that I’m actually working on something. (It motivates me to see my own progress and to add to it.)
Theme 01 cellphone snaps – Freshly made up, and testing lighting!
My first theme, which I worked on last week, is inspired by film noir. Anything from the 20’s to the 70’s basically interests me. I also love anything emotional and theatrical. It also allowed me to practice makeup and styling. Plenty to like! This theme is perfect for me.
The biggest challenge for me was to actually do it and get started, but there was an added challenge to work with lighting as my primary prop. The lighting would make or break the shot.
Theme 01 results – image on the left is what I was aiming for. The right one is a bonus image.
It took some tinkering here and there, for instance I didn’t think to keep daylight out more in order to have that darker atmosphere. In the end I figured it out and got just what I wanted.
And the best part is that I felt like taking another shot in the same theme… but then week 02 rolled around and I really had to start working on that, first. But that other shot, it’s in my idea book now. I was inspired to do more. And that’s what this project is supposed to achieve: new photographs, but also continued inspiration and ideas to work with.
I can only hope that I can keep it going. I’m really trying my hardest this time around. I think it helps that I feel like I may actually have something to lose if I give up this time.