Taking self portraits are one of the most miserable experiences I can envision with a camera. I don’t necessarily mind having my photo made (although that isn’t my favorite) but being both the operator and subject ranks down there with shooting an outside, nighttime wedding in sleet and snow.
However, that measure of preference is a clear indicator that I need to work on that very thing I dislike. I think there are numerous benefits to pushing the comfort level — it helps me grow from disdain to acceptance to enjoyment of a particular activity. Additionally, it helps me (the photographer) talk and communicate with me (the subject), which in turn strengthens my skills for communication with other subjects.
While out with my son (who, by the way, wants to have his photo made as often as possible — must get it from his mom) I was working with photographing the forms of playground equipment. The wood and steel, plastic and rubber, all composed for a maximum of fun and a minimum of harm. Truly form following function. The remarkable shadows cast were endlessly fascinating, and in one of them I saw my shadow accidentally creep into frame. Inspiration hot, and realizing that I could take a self portrait without the hassle of a self-timer, tripod, walking back and forth to review, etc, I made the photo below.
I have been carrying my Fuji x100 around more and more, especially when out with family. This portable party of a camera has opened up previously unavailable subjects and sessions by merely being available. I still love shooting film on location, and my digital SLR’s most definitely have a place in my workflows. But for the daily fun of finding opportunity the x100 is unbeatable in my toolkit. Not least because of the built-in emulsions — Velvia, Provia and Astia. Additionally, the black and white emulsion is remarkable in clarity and tonality. I have spent entire sessions entranced with the beautiful renderings produced in camera. Although this day was beautiful with blue skies, yellow playground sand and red structures, working in black and white gave the strongest representation of the day.
While it isn’t the most inspirational self portrait ever made, I think it speaks to a little of my style and desire as a photographer. A little slouch, not so much to appear cool and collected, but rather to steady against the upright bars. Finding a way to keep the foreground and background in moderate balance across the frame. Aiming to keep the texture of all material present. Those points are part of my process and part of my produced work. Is that not what a portrait is about?