I was watching the Art of Photography video about self portraits and decided to try it myself, after discovering that Zoe has a timer for her shutter! Ted Forbes, who runs that channel, also talks a lot about environmental portraits, and how one can involve the environment around the person being photographed to say something more about them. I was also heavily influenced by his video on photo sequences and how a sequence of a few photos can tell a story or expand more on a concept. So, this little experiment is a kind of mixture of all those photography concepts combined.
Self portrait(s): I guess I can call these photos a self portrait (or even each photo as its own self portrait, I guess?), as I am photographing myself in a way that I feel actually represents me (except for the foot… maybe). The fact that I barely show my face is definitely on purpose.
Environmental (self) portrait: I feel that these photos can also somewhat be considered environmental portraits, I guess, because of the way I involved my piano. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and is my absolute most beloved hobby. I still haven’t gathered the courage to share it in this little blog, because there’s an underlying feeling of incompetence that for some reason feels a bit more pronounced than in my other hobbies. Maybe one day I’ll take one hundred deep breaths and be able to press that publish button to share a bit of this hobby with you. Maybe.
Photo sequence: When I was taking these photos, I didn’t take them in the order that they ended up in this improvised photo sequence. I know that for these types of projects, a bit of planning beforehand is recommended, to understand the concept that is being explored and how to best make it work. But, when I was taking these, I was only thinking of getting a self portrait, and I took different photos in order to find the one that I felt best represented me. I thought about different feelings when taking each photo:
I don’t think anyone can tell, but in this first picture I am actually looking at the camera, just with my hair in front of my face. I was trying to convey the shyness I feel when thinking about showing my music to the world. Sharing one’s creation is extremely frightening, but thinking about doing it anonymously kind of subsides that horrible feeling of vulnerability.
With the second picture I was trying to show the feeling of defeat when one is trying to create something and nothing seems to be working. In this case, that feeling of wanting to give up when nothing seems to sound the way you want it to. When you try hundreds of different things and nothing feels right. It’s a constant for me. This was actually the first picture I took of these.
In the third picture, I was trying to express the feeling of immersion when you are listening to music (whether your own creation or someone else’s) that feels absolutely right, that pushes all the right buttons and gives you chills. That experience of being almost inside a musical piece, almost living it while listening to it, and the absolute joy that it is when you create something that works like that for you.
The last picture wasn’t supposed to be a part of this set. I took three more photographs with this concept – playing the piano with limbs other than your hands: one with my elbow, one with my knee, and one with my head. The head one was very similar to the second picture of this bunch though, and the other ones didn’t work out that well. But when I looked at them after development, I realized what I was actually trying to convey with them. When you try something enough times and it still doesn’t work… you try something different, something that you’d never even considered, that might have even sounded ridiculous before. And sometimes, it works. Sometimes, that little experiment that you did just for fun, just to take a breather from your normal way of doing things, is actually exactly what you needed, is actually exactly what finally works.
It was when looking at these photos after they came back from the lab that I realized that none of these photos felt exactly right on their own. Sure, they could work, but I feel like they work best together – for me, at least. They express my feelings about music and about myself in regards to my own music. A process that loops around being shy, wanting to give up, immersing myself, and trying different things. Of course the order varies, but I believe all these steps are part of my creative process. And so, that is what I decided to name this little experiment of a photo sequence:
My creative process
Quick note: you may notice these photos were cropped to be squares. This was done for two reasons: first, I believe that this final result of the four photos together works best if they are squares, as it makes the final picture also a square. Second, there were some objects in the left part of the frame that I didn’t notice as I was taking these with a timer, and I felt that they were too distracting.
Overall, this was definitely an extremely interesting experiment. Despite the somewhat serious tone of my text so far, I even feel like this sequence is kind of funny. In a way, it also expresses a bit of the frustration one can feel when creating something. I must admit I am quite happy with how these turned out. I will try more self portraits, more environmental portraits, and more photo sequences in the future, perhaps disconnecting them from one another. Yet, I definitely recommend you try something like this! It’s a wonderful way of figuring out how to express who you are. I must say I’m extremely glad that this is the way I decided to introduce myself for the first time here.