Hey! Do you have time? I’d like to share with you what I’ve experienced this week to rekindle my love for photography.
Some days, I can spend the whole day looking at portrait photos to learn. But knowing things isn’t enough for a pragmatic person like me. I know that I have to push myself to apply what I’ve learned to gain what academicians often call “the experiential knowledge”. I guess you could say that I was heavily influenced by a philosopher named John Dewey who believed that human beings learn through a “hands-on” approach.
This week, I decided to try self portrait photography at home for a week.
I can be a bit of a control freak so I thought creating a”shot list” will allow me to have the freedom and flexibility I need during the actual shoot and help me avoid what they call a “paralysis by analysis” kind of thing during the planning stage. I expect that it will also teach me how to trust in what I think while I create a piece of art. Since structure will go out of the window, I know that I will struggle. But that’s the point of all these. To put myself in an uncomfortable situation that will trigger my creativity.
Day 1 “Doll up at home”
I’ve spent an hour to get ready. I almost rethink the whole thing. It felt awkward just to think that I will be posing infront of the camera for a week!!!
I can’t just pose. I have to give myself something to do during the actual shoot. This can be a helpful piece of information to take note of when photographing non models and unexperienced ones.
BTW, I decided to make use of my Fujifilm xt100 as it allows me to use my phone as a camera remote. This tool helped lessen the friction.
I usually shoot handheld as it encourages me to be more creative and find new angles to help tell a story. That means… fixing the camera on a tripod frustrates me. I know now how difficult it is to make self portraits.
Day 2 “Hire me!”
I felt a bit exhausted. I started late so I have to move fast before the golden hour. It took me an hour and a half to set up the materials and equipment in my chosen location, to dress up and to apply my make up. But I love how I look.
In most photos, I decided to wear black to lessen distractions and reflections. These are technical reasons why photographers wear black.
I used some old newspaper as backdrop and props to create an image that shows what most of us are experiencing during this pandemic. As much as I want to make things light, I have to give myself the liberty to express what I really think and feel about what’s going on through still images. I find it (kinda) therapeutic.
Day 3 “Shoot thyself”
I was up till the wee hours and felt unmotivated to shoot. I was worried that having all these negative feelings will affect my creativity but I was able to carry on.
I decided to portray a slice of life of self portrait photographers. I have to somehow share my appreciation of their hardwork and dedication. Ugh… their job is not a joke. They must really be into this thing to do it every single day with zero resistance.
It wasn’t the one that’s planned but Annie Leibovitz, my favorite portrait photographer, once said “[y]ou have to trust in what you think. If you splinter yourself and try to please everyone, you can’t”.
That day, I realized why it is easier to criticize a piece of art when you haven’t tried it yourself.
As mentioned, I was unimaginative on Day 3 but I was able to shoot for Day 4 and 5 in advance. Should I be proud of myself? Hehe
Notice that I used minimal props. I don’t own much stuff as I’m heading towards a minimalist lifestyle. Also, I can’t spend cash on props and have to make use of what I have. This is a part of the challenge.
Day 4 “Top Priority”
I came up with a photo that talks about mental health using a paper bag. A reminder that we should reflect on how we’re feeling and find ways to look after ourselves.
Day 5 “We shall overcome!”
Channeling my inner Gloria Steinem, the face of feminism, with this protest sign.
If you are fighting for that peace of mind you’ve worked hard for. That’s more than enough. Let others fight for what they believe in. And know that we can overcome whatever we’re going through. Keep the faith!
Day 6 “Hair peace”
I decided to recreate John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s portrait taken by the press during their honeymoon. It is a non-violent protest against wars and an experimental test of new ways to promote peace.
Since the salons were closed, I am for hair peace most days so I took John’s side.
Day 7 “Socially distant visit”
I’m supposed to recreate Max Wanger’s “looking through the glass” which is a photo series documenting his friends as they safely stay behind their windows. A way to show emotional support through photos! Wanger is brilliant! I just want to say that. Hehe.
But since this is a self portrait photography challenge, I have to shoot myself instead of friends. Sadly, I can’t be able to do it before my deadline. BUT… I can create a separate blog for that.
For this week’s challenge, I have to admit that I’ve struggled “A LOT” but I’ve learned a lot too. Do you think I should challenge myself more?
Dear friends, thank you for your time today. I hope that you find this post somewhat encouraging and entertaining. I am excited to share more on my future posts.
You have a great one! Please stay safe!