I was really surprised to find how excruciating the process of taking my self-portrait has proved to be. There's no pressure when you are on vacation and hold out the camera to take a quick shot of you and your loved one for memory's sake. (And hey world, can we puh-lease stop this whole phenomenon of the bathroom mirror/kissy face "selfie"?! Ugh. Really.) But attempting to carefully and thoughtfully capture one image that represents you in an accurate light? That is a challenge.
When I first began this project I had a flood of ideas and I scrawled them down but there's something about being in front of the camera lens that changes everything. I needed to warm up to the whole experience by keeping it simple and just going with how I was feeling. If I felt like screaming at the camera, I did! And after taking a bazillion shots, I was faced with the challenge of sorting through my images... of me. If you'd like to up the ante on self-criticism, try this! Not only was I looking at lighting and composition, sharpness and shadows, I was also judging the photograph on how I was viewing myself. The great thing was that it made it very easy to sort through and immediately erase unwanted images instead of the typical photograph hoarding/sorting procrastination that occurs.
In a world of photoshop and picture perfection it's a huge challenge to let myself "shine", accepting my image just as it is, without judgement and without touch-up. Talking to colleagues who take lifestyle images full-time, I know there is tremendous pressure (often from the clients themselves) to edit pictures to make everyone look like a skinny supermodel. This continues to breed a culture where our pictures don't represent our actual image and we beat ourselves up because we don't actually look like those "perfected" images. So, yes, I want to represent myself in the best light possible but I still want the photograph to be honest - I don't want to be relying on editing to make myself feel like I look okay. I further reflected on our culture's obsession of fixing "imperfections" - how we have collectively agreed to the definition of beauty, labelling certain elements of our look as imperfect. It's time to stop that, wouldn't you agree?
Different moods, diverse lighting, various times of day - they all contribute to a new perspective and outcome. This self-portrait process has proved to be a great way to play with different lighting scenarios. And, as difficult as it is, I'm going to keep carving out some time to work on this challenge a while longer. Experimenting and practicing helps me gain clarity on my photographic values.