There are many foolish and inconsistent reasons for the serious idiot photographer to take self-portraits of himself. Some say every piece of artwork is another iteration in the evolution of the self-portrait. Just like some say that every new lover/boyfriend/girlfriend is just a step further in the same direction or that each each cruel joke by a comedian is simply a commentary on their own depression. Some use the self-portrait to test lighting setups, others because they didn’t have any models on hand and were bored and thinking that they need to continue and create or be left to the wayside on the creative-evolutionary road of artistic development.
I say the self-portrait is there to know thyself. Love thyself, to get to know the only subject you have first-hand experience with. Are you trying to get inside the soul, to view the subject from behind their own eyes and imprint it on the canvas of the world? The self-portrait is the easiest way to go. You know yourself, your aims and goals and depressions and fears and twisted nature of self-discovery. It makes sense in a very authentic and innocent way to set a camera on a tripod and click the remote shutter to take your own picture a hundred times to get a feeling for the visual elements of your person. Take that view from the bathroom mirror and save it in a time capsule. But do it with determination, execute it with style, and don’t flinch when the strobe pops in the darkness.
I started shooting myself simply because there was no one else at the start. Then I got bored of it and now I make images of model and of normal people – people I know and those I just met. With the self-portrait you get a sense for the isolation in front of the camera. Of that feeling of standing naked on a stage and revealing something inside of yourself, presenting it to the world and holding it up for scrutiny. You can become an actor in your own skin and play out the part of you being you in another personality. The lights and shadows make you whoever you wanted to think you can be in another time and place in between rising and setting sun or moon.
In the self-portrait you are the director and producer and the one wrote the script. This makes it easy to know everything at once and not get distracted at a brainstorming meeting. But there also exists the boredom. It’s more interesting to work with other people because it’s a challenge and you see sides of yourself you didn’t know existed. A photographer is someone who is interested in people – they must be. Hide behind the camera all the time and you’ll never know what’s on the other side. Design everything in CG animation and Photoshop all day and you’ll connect with nothing but shadows of emotions from imagined people on the screen.
2 thoughts on “Self-Portraits: Reflections of the Ego”
hi Mark, looking good. I especially like the necklace! Is that a local custom in Zurich?
Thanks, I really should wear them out at a club some night this summer.