I’ve decided to question the connotations of the self portrait through this project. I regularly take ‘selfies’ on snapchat to send to people as a public documentation of what I’m doing, so I can share my experiences with others. When taking these photographs I’ll make sure that i look presentable and like I’d like them to see me. Its not necessarily a conscious decision, I just do it because I’d rather send a good photo than a bad photo so people see what I want them to see. The art of the self-portrait usually comes from the brave photographer who wants to tell the truth about themselves or chooses to release images that aren’t flattering.
Photographer Alberto Garcia-Alix’s self portrait is both flattering and emotional. The context of his series of images are that they are taken when Spain gained liberties from the end of Franco’s dictatorship and the images reflect a certain freedom and boldness of his personality. This portrait in particular is lit by a softbox on the right-side of his face, the way slight shadows are left on his face give dimension to his features and create a nice gradient of shadow. This image is a flattering self-portrait because it is shot in a fashion style. The way he’s posed; revealing the tattoos on his hands is similar to some fashion photography and his hair and outfit suit him well to make it seem high-fashion. However, the blank facial expression with the sad, forgiving eyes cupeled with the context of his new found freedom tell a story of his experiences. A well thought out self portrait like this looks aesthetically pleasing as well as artistically stimulating.
My idea is to create an two images that comment on the formula of modern portrait photography as a whole. Garicia-Alix’s work is a great example because it combines both fashion and art into one image. My project would focus on both aspects of that photo; the fashion and the art into two photographs. The first image would be a photograph that is flattering. A photograph that with fashion lighting (beauty dish, softbox etc.) and a fashion pose thats edited for magazine purposes, an image that I’d be proud to show people because of the nice aesthetics. This would be the stereotypical self-portrait that people are happy with, this would be an image that masks my emotions and shows little connection to a stereotypical artistic portrait. The second image would be a more typical artistic image. A photograph that is not lit to exentuate beauty, but to reveal ‘imperfects’, to give shinny skin and dark shadows that don’t add to the facial dimensions. I’d also be posed awkwardly with a more emotional stare that reveals the awkwardness in portraiture that so many photographers comment on, because we are shy of the camera, so if I embrace those emotions then it will capture the essence of this formula that portraiture photographers have been practising. I’d achieve this lighting by using a snoot pointing down on the face to create hard shadows and shinny tones. With the beauty dish lighting the background to create the soft circular light, creating a vignette in the background for more effect.
By presenting both these images it shows the formula of portrait photography. Fashion vs artistic, comfortable vs awkward and weak vs brave. This way I’m interrogating the representation of portraiture itself.