Conceptualising The Self – Part 1, The Personal Self

As a person who prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, the idea of creating a series of self portraits was daunting.  Precisely because of this, my online profile was sorely in need of some updating. And,  as the first piece of assessment in my Social Media and Photography course, there was no getting around it.  I needed to find a way in.

Mood boards provided  me with a way of conceptualising the different aspects of myself through photography.  First, I focused on ‘the personal self’ by documenting my interests. This formed a collation I call The Comforts of Home.  I chose photographs I had taken in and around our home over the last four years.  I love bright colours, so it was surprising to find that many of my selections had muted colours, with grey and gold emerging as the two tones which linked the images together.

Here is The Comforts of Home:

Mood board featuring photographs I have taken over the last four years.

The combination of birds and cosy corners, comfort food and trees brought nests to mind.  My first self portraits were out in the bushland, framed against tree bark with a nesting hollow above me.  The idea was strong but the photographs weren’t, so it was back to the drawing board.

The next cue came from the bowl of spices.  I tried photographing myself selecting recipe books.  Again, something was missing.

Finally, I resorted to the mirror because I could see myself in the frame, which meant I had more control over the final composition.  Through trial and error, I came to a solution.  The photographs I liked best were the ones with the camera over my mouth.  I’m a writer, and my language to describe myself is usually words on a page.  To construct a self portrait, I needed to develop a new visual language. The camera had to speak for me.

Michelle, a tutor, gave me the insight that my visual voice could be loud or soft, so I began playing with filters, working out how to convey volume and silence.  Here is a selection of photographs from the day.  This is early in the process. I need to create more photographs and do more experimentation by digitally altering the images.  However, as a starting point, I’m interested to know which ones you think work, as I am still getting used to the idea of seeing myself in the images.


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