Monday, August 22, 2011

The Post With Way Too Many Links to (Other People's) Self Portraits

(But the links! They're mostly to pretty pictures!)

I'm planning to take another photography class with the lovely Vivienne McMaster in September. This one isn't specifically focused on self portraits, though she did kind of design it for folks who have taken one or both of her self portrait classes. (And in the event that you somehow missed my obsessive rambling about self portraits earlier in the year, see here and here.)

In any event, I'm still a little obsessed with self portraits. It's a rich genre, as you can see by looking here and here. So with a burst of creative energy I had this evening (finally, finally), I began compiling my ideas in a notebook and also searching Flickr to see what other people are doing with their self portraits. And I learned a few things.

1) Photoshop can be used for good...or for eeeeevil. Wowza. So, so bad.

2) You can take a picture of yourself in a landscape. Or, you can find a way to become an integral part of the landscape in your picture. Guess which one works better.

3) I am all for exploring the body through photography. There are some beautiful examples of this on Flickr--and interestingly, not all of them involve taking off one's clothes (also, looking like a Martha Graham dancer is generally a pretty okay idea in my book). However. There are also an alarming number of people who seem to think that taking off one's clothes in front of the camera automatically makes for a compelling photograph. As it turns out: Not so!

4) I like a nice concept, a story, a bit of mystery. I like a photo shoot that takes some thought and planning. I like props, costumes, landscapes to play in. (This sort of makes sense; I did once have something that vaguely resembled a career in theater.)

5) Mostly? People should probably stop trying to explain the meaning of their photos. Because wow, so many of the explanations are so not good--often, even when the photographs are pretty good! And in general, in art, it's just not a great plan to tell your audience what they should think about the thing you've created. Unless there's a really important reason for commentary, or the commentary is about something process oriented, let the photographs stand by themselves. And if they can't, well...that might indicate a problem.

And here--for being such good sports and clicking all those links (you know, I'm assuming), and because Lis seems to like it when I post my self portraits, and because I somehow feel a little weird when I post words without any pictures, here's a photograph I took in one of Vivienne's classes. I'm pretty sure that a year ago, when Lis and I started this blog, I'd never have posted any self portraits, let alone this one. Art, man. It changes you.


  1. ~Hell yes!!~ Great article Lady! I look forward to diving in further with you...deeper and wilder!

  2. I still do love looking at this image!

    Enjoy your next course with Vivienne!

  3. That's beautiful, Ame. Well put! xox

  4. i am looking forward to be in class again with you! i had a lack of inspiration taking selfportraits but hope to step back into it soon!
    much love, d.

  5. SO glad you are doing swan dive. I love your composition. Your photos are amazing!! xo