In the first post for the selfPortrait Foundation, Katherine Caddy, sP editor, takes us through ideas for mixing up your self-portraiture through experimenting with various media
When I started out taking self-portraits as a teenager, I solely used a Canon PowerShot propped on furniture or a rock outdoors and put onto self-timer to capture my portraits. As I delved deeper into the medium, I began placing different materials over the lense, including lace and glass, in order to layer up and warp my images, to produce new depth and areas of interest in my photography. In this post, I share how switching up your media can reinvigorate your practice and lead to the production of more interesting, challenging work.
Working with film
Being experimental and taking your self-portraits with a film camera can add a huge amount of authenticity and originality to your work. As profiled via selfPortrait earlier this season, Celeste Ortiz, whose work is pictured above, perfectly utlises a Canon 500N electronic film camera to create her dreamy self-portraits, using ‘a few different old lenses and a lot of different filters – especially close-up filters’. The results can be breathtaking, softly capturing the light and focus on the subject.
Once you’re on the way to mastering how to use your digital camera, it may suit your style and its development to test out techniques in photo manipulation. Utilising a platform such as PhotoShop or other photo editing software, you can combine various elements to create quirky, bewitching work. You may have spotted our sP introduces feature with Giorgio Gabe earlier this year. His work, as pictured above, perfectly epitomises the kind of fun you can have with photo manipulation, and is powerful in its subtlety – in the way it beckons us to take a second look. Why not try for yourself?
When I spotted Britt Grimm’s analogue photography on Flickr, I was just a little blown away. This artist’s work illustrates why we should all test out working with instant media, as the unique, ethereal aspects it offers are hard to come by naturally anywhere else. Of course, it takes a huge amount of practice and skill to achieve the effects she achieves, as in the photo above – but isn’t that part of the fun?
Beyond the finished piece
As the lead author for the selfPortrait Foundation, I’m not afraid of sharing the odd self-portrait I’ve taken to illustrate an idea. In terms of mixing up media, I often find taking self-portraiture on one’s phone to test out the light and setting very useful, as it helps me to map out a scene in my mind or simply to release creative ideas for future practice. Above is an example of a time I simply had to make use of the light in my apartment and to see how a self-portrait taken from a low chair may appear.
Quick-fire ideas for getting experimental
- Take a photograph you aren’t so pleased with and scan it with other media, such as papers, handwritten notes, fabric or dried flowers, to produce a new work altogether
- Shoot a photo of a printed photograph and re-edit it in PhotoShop or on your phone to completely switch-up its tones and feel
- Play around with overlaying unexpected photographs onto your self-portrait – images of architecture, trees, the sea, and glistening objects such as glitter, or bright lights
- Work with reflections in puddles or glass to produce a fresh take of your form
- Move beyond photography and shoot a selection of short films of yourself – as alternative self-portraits. You could take stills from these and form them into unique pieces in their own right
- Start a 365 and share a photo each day on Instagram or Flickr (or store them privately for your own artist archive). The 365 doesn’t have to involve taking a photograph of yourself each day, but could be a way of experimenting with different media, equipment, and ways of capturing scenes in your daily life which may then feed into your self-portrait practice
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first instalment of content via the selfPortrait Foundation, and that our stories prove useful in sparking your imagination and creativity as a self-portraitist!
~Katherine @ selfPortrait
P.S. Are you a reader with a topic you’d like us to tackle in a future story? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch