Making a Self Portrait for a Different Reason

Making a self portrait is not as easy as it may seem. I thought, okay, I'll set up a tripod, attach a camera, then stand in front of it and press the remote button. I can tell you that after about a hundred shots, I wasn't happy with ninety of them. I'm not used to seeing myself in pictures- I'm always behind the camera, so I reminded myself of why I was taking self portraits, and carried on. 

Portraits should have a narrative, that the image should tell a story of sorts. It really shouldn't be just a snap of the person, although, some candid shots turn out great, but study them further and you'll read the story that's present (even if the photographer was unaware).  

Get Past the Ink

Get Past the Ink

This torturous exercise of making my own portrait was not for reasons of vanity but to tell a story, and to remember what it is like to be on the lens side of the camera. 

The portrait should tell a story about the person in the image. One picture doesn't tell the entire story of that person, only a part.  So I wondered, what is part of my story? I have lots of stories! Don't all people that sit for portraits? My story, simply, is about how I think people see me when I wear a short sleeve shirt. Some can't get past my tattoos. It seems to be what they see first. Many judge who I am without even speaking with me. I do hide my ink with long sleeves in certain places just to avoid the whole scenario.

Each one of us have a different side than what everyone sees; stories that we don't say out loud, but kept hidden from daylight that would call attention to our not so great qualities (or what we think is not so great). 

The second image is not only telling the story of my thoughtful times, but to continue the experience of being in a photo, which is certainly different than making the photos. There is a part of me and (most) that are uneasy about being in photos, and before I move forward on a portrait project I have been planning, I had to feel what my sitters will likely feel. A sense of vulnerability. 

In the shadows, hiding from the world.

In the shadows, hiding from the world.

We are always more critical of ourselves, so is any portrait sitter that we may shoot. Yes, I was quite nervous posting these images of myself. I tried to imagine how most feel when getting a portrait made; vulnerable is only one of many words that popped into my head. 

This self-portrait session wasn't about practicing my lighting skills, camera settings, or perfect focus, it was about not forgetting that portrait photography isn't about me when I'm shooting, it's about the person I'm photographing.





Adam GraserPortraitsComment