A message from the editor

City mermaid 1

I hope you’re well and enjoying the season so far. Lots has changed for selfPortrait since we last posted and, as I’m in the midst of editing issue 1, I thought it fitting to update our readers on our progress and transformation.

I founded selfPortrait to share the dazzling work of self-portrait photographers across the globe, which we began doing in January this year, through online features. My ultimate goal at this point was to set up a print and digital magazine which could be purchased by our readers on the website, while also running the selfPortrait Foundation, which published useful how-to and thought pieces on improving/developing one’s self-portraiture.

What I’ve come to realise, though, is that commercialising this magazine doesn’t sit comfortably with me. As a self-portrait artist myself, especially when I was younger, all I wanted was some direction and to feel part of a community, and to shut those who can’t afford a magazine out of the pinnacle of what we’re creating feels wrong.

So, issue 1 will be available to read and download for free on the website this August.

We will soon be inviting artists to contribute their own how-to and thought columns for the Foundation, with a view to selfPortrait becoming a special non-profit which inspires and supports those interested in self-portrait photography – no matter where they are in the world, no matter what their means.

I’ve been experimenting with my own work this month, as I’ve finally had a little time off work and can see the wood for the trees creatively. Above is a glimpse, and you can find more on my work and background at katherineapril.com. At some point soon I plan to share a thought piece myself, hence introducing my work at this important juncture.

Best wishes,

Katherine

P.S. Don’t forget to follow selfPortrait on Instagram, Twitter and to add your work to the Flickr group in the weeks ahead

Burning to belong: Q&A with Natalie Michelle

Lumens II, 2017

Lumens II, 2017

Meet Natalie Michelle, a photographer from Northern Ontario who is drawn to abandoned spaces and the concept of home

Hey, Natalie. First off, could you tell us about you and your work, in a nutshell?
Hi, I’m Natalie. I like dogs, strong coffee, and depressing music. In my free time I like to drive around aimlessly in hopes of finding abandoned structures I am yet to explore. I’m currently based in Northern Ontario, where I co-own a photography business named Pixelpond, so my life pretty much revolves around the creation of images, whether for commercial or fine art purposes.

How did you come to take self-portraits?
I have a fair bit of social anxiety, and I don’t like asking people for help so it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a loner. I first started taking self-portraits to facilitate learning the technical aspects of photography, and in turn the process became a form of therapy. While I do have some amazing friends who have assisted me in creating some of my images throughout the years, I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting someone else through any of the potentially harmful situations I tend to embark myself in, like being barefoot in abandoned buildings or risking any serious burns etc.

Where did you train, or are you self-taught?
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (specialising in photography) and a minor in Film Studies from the University of Ottawa in 2014, but there’s still so much to learn. I plan on continuing to postgraduate studies in a few years after completing several exhibitions and residencies.

_I don't remember,_ 2015

I don’t remember, 2015

Where predominantly do you take your photographs? (we notice a lot of them are taken in abandoned spaces – why are you drawn to this?)
Most of my photographs are taken in various abandoned spaces I’ve stumbled upon throughout the years. I grew up in a small town surrounded by its fair share of architectural ruins and had a few friends in high school with a shared interest in abandoned buildings, so exploring became one of our favourite hobbies. I still harbor an archaeological curiosity that draws me to these temporary places, and since most of them are set to be torn down in the near future I like to interact with them and document them in my own way before they cease to exist. On the days where exploring isn’t an option, I sometimes try to challenge myself by creating something entirely from the comforts of my own room.

What are your major influences and themes in your work?
My work almost always revolves around the concept of home, in terms of physical space as well as the inherent human desire to belong. I’m very interested in the things we leave behind, and exploring how our environment influences us, and vice versa. Sometimes I just like to take a photograph for the sole purpose of having a tangible memory of a particular space.

Weight_Wait, 2018

Weight_Wait, 2018

Name some artists whose work inspires you, and tell us why.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Francesca Woodman since I was introduced to her work by comparison several years ago. She was incredibly proficient from the age of thirteen and produced an immensely influential body of work in such a short amount of time. I’ve always been interested in how she seems to interact with the space so effortlessly in her photographs. I’m also a big fan of Nan Goldin for her honest, cinematic depictions of intimacy. My non-photographic inspiration include cinematographers such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and musicians like Julien Baker (I’ve had her latest album on repeat for months.)

What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I like to switch it up whenever I feel like I’m being too dependent on one specific format. Lately I’ve been shooting a lot of instant film, but my go-to is usually a Rolleicord vb type II that I got when I was 19. When I’m relying on the convenience of digital, I shoot with a Nikon D600 or D800 with a 24-70mm or 50mm lens. I also often use a Pentax K1000 that I found at a thrift store several years ago for $15.

Bloom, 2018

Bloom, 2018

Tell us something few people know about you.
Of the five tattoos I currently have, two are lyrics from Bon Iver songs. So far I’ve seen them in concert four times in three different countries.

Where are you taking your work in 2018? 
My first solo exhibition is currently up at the local gallery in my hometown, and in April I’ll be starting a month-long residency in Stöðvarfjörður, on the east coast of Iceland. I’ll be going back to Iceland again in December 2018 for a residency in Reykjavik.

Keep informed on Natalie’s latest projects and work by following her on Instagram and checking out her website

Beauty from the community

Hello lovely supporters,

As we are hard at work producing issue 1 of selfPortrait magazine, out this summer, we are keen to keep you in touch with each other and to promote the beautiful work being shared on our Flickr group and Instagram by self-portraitists across the globe.

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Here’s a glimpse of recent submissions from our Flickr group, which you can explore further here.

You can also follow the #selfportraitmag hashtag on Instagram to enjoy more self-portrait photography from artists and those featured on our site, year-round.

We hope you’ll keep us in the loop and will share more of your recent work via both platforms in the coming weeks.

We’ll be sharing a gorgeous Q&A with Natalie Michelle shortly, too. Here’s a glimpse of her work for a taster:

Bloom, 2018

Don’t forget you can tap into rewards and support our growth anytime on Patreon, and follow us on Twitter for more unique self-portraiture.

Wishing you a fabulous springtime,

Katherine @ sP

Q&A with Nicole Cudzilo: ‘I’ve been a lover of history ever since I can remember’

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Nicole Cudzilo, self-portrait on Ektar 100

In a brand new Q&A, we meet 27-year-old photographer and make-up artist Nicole Cudzilo, who reveals all about her retro-style self-portraiture

Hi Nicole! Where are you based and what do you do outside photography?
I was born and raised in a small Connecticut town, but have been state-hopping for the past few years. I’ve done some short stints in California and Nebraska, and I’m currently spending my spring season living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Aside from photography I am a professional make-up artist. I studied math and environmental science in college, and being outdoors provides my greatest fulfillment outside of photography.

How did you come to take self-portraits?
I discovered self-portraiture almost as soon as I discovered photography. I suppose it was first borne out of necessity, as I didn’t have any models to experiment with, but it eventually grew into a recurring theme. There is something intriguing about having your hands in all aspects of an image. Being the subject, as well as coming up with the framing, styling and content makes the work feel so much more personal to me. It still scares me a bit to put my self-portraits out into the world, but I think making them is such an important part of self discovery and vulnerability for any artist.

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Nicole Cudzilo, self-portrait on Ektar 100

Where did you train and who with?
I was very fortunate to have met my photo mentor, Laurie Klein, while I was still in high school. I’ve been connected with Laurie for over ten years now and she still serves as a constant sounding board, inspiration, cheerleader and friend. She’s helped me develop my voice by asking difficult questions and pushing me to dig into what my images have to say. Laurie studied with Ansel Adams and her work reflects the same gorgeous sense of composition, place and emotion with an added focus on the female form in the
environment.

What are some of the biggest things you learned while training in photography?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned recently is to trust myself and my process. It has taken me a long time to mentally get to a place to be able to even make that statement, but with the help of friends’ encouragement and a lot of trial and error, I finally feel like it’s alright to be figuring out my work and my path as I go.

And what are your major influences and themes in your work?
I’m mostly influenced memory and nostalgia, the female experience, colour palette, and solitude.

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Nicole Cudzilo, self-portrait in Creede CO. Hasselblad 500cm with Portra 400

Where does your retro style come from?
I’ve been a lover of history ever since I can remember. For the first 14 years of my life I dressed in authentic costumes almost exclusively, and my favourite periods were the Revolutionary and Civil War, as well as Little House on the Prairie-inspired garments and my bridal sari from India. It didn’t matter the occasion or event, it was just part of my day-to-day life and it has kind of stuck with me. I now regularly dress in styles from the 1920s-1970s and it has worked its way into my images.

Name some artists whose work inspires you, and tell us why.
I’ll give you the short list (in no particular order) because there are so many artists that I admire. Most of these artists inspire me with their use of dramatic colour palette and stylisation, but I am also drawn to the emotion and timelessness of the few black & white photo artists in this lineup: Alex Prager, Marianna Rothen, Shelbie Dimond, Shae DeTar, Mercedes Helnwein, Kourtney Roy, Jimmy Marble, Tania Franco Klein, Miles Aldridge, Francesca Woodman, Gregory Crewdson, Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, Nan Goldin, Vivian Maier, Fred Herzog, Joel Meyerowitz and Saul Leiter.

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Nicole Cudzilo, self-portrait on Ektar 100

What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I am primarily a film photographer and my most-used camera is my Hasselblad 500cm. The first time I held its black, square body I fell in love with its weight, format and mechanics. I was extremely fortunate to receive mine as a gift from a stranger named Ruth, a retired photographer who has changed my photographic life with her kind gesture. I use a small, wind-up self-timer that screws into the cable release port and my camera is always on a tripod. My second most-used camera is my Nikonos V. It’s an analog, underwater rangefinder, and working with it transports me into another level of feeling alive. It does not have a timer for self-portraiture, but I love it just the same.

What are some of the greatest challenges for you as a self-portrait photographer?
My greatest challenges include getting the perfect framing without being able to see the back of a digital camera; racing the clock to set up and perfect a shot before the good light runs out; not having enough hands for all of the things you’re trying to control at once; and trying to not come off as narcissistic to the people who ask what kind of photography that you like to do (haha).

Tell us something that few people know about you.
I sang in a jazz band for a few years with my younger brother who played bass, but I usually keep that a secret… so shh!

Discover more about Nicole’s work on her website and Instagram

One shot | Marta Braggio: ‘in my self-portraits you never see my face’

Comfort-Zone 2

Marta Braggio, Comfort Zone 2, 2017

Photographer Marta Braggio discusses her recent self-portrait, Comfort Zone 2

I studied art and lived in Venice for a few years; it became my second ‘hometown’. Prior to this, I was born and live in Vicenza in the north of Italy.

I’m always looking for something deeper and new in every work. My choice of colour and self-analysis are important in my self-portraits.

I first began photography four years ago, when I found some old cameras at home.
They were my grandfather’s. The contact with these fascinating objects pushed me into attending my first photography course and I started to study photographers and artists.

My fellow students focused on street photography and portraits, but I felt this genre wasn’t mine. I was interested in expressing something more personal and introspective, so I tried to photograph my legs. Since then I carried on making self-portraits.

Making self-portraits requires laying my soul bare and expressing through my body and colours what I am, the feelings I feel and maybe other people feel. In fact, in my self-portraits you never see my face, so people viewing the photos can easily identify themselves in the photographs.

Comfort Zone 2 was born on a Sunday afternoon in April. I remember I didn’t want to go out and I thought that people usually take refuge in comfort, in their bubble and sometimes prefer their ‘comfort zone’ to new and different situations.

There was a bunch of callas on the table and I imagined a person who was hiding and protecting him or herself  from the outside behind these white flowers. So, I took my camera and the callas; I stood opposite a white wall trying to reproduce as faithfully as possible the image in my mind.

I have several projects in my mind: from different interpretations of past works of art, to the introspective analysis of the period and the expression of other feelings. I’m always looking for new subjects for unusual self-portraits. My most recent works are female interpretations of Magritte’s paintings.

View more of Marta’s self-portraiture on Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr

Newsflash | Anja Niemi at Steven Kasher

She_Could_Have_Been_A_Cowboy_©_Anja_Niemi[1]

She Could Have Been A Cowboy © Anja Niemi

See work by Norwegian artist Anja Niemi at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, now

She Could Have Been A Cowboy is a new show of self-portrait photography by Anja Niemi. The exhibition features a series of narrative photographs exploring life lived under the constraints of conformity, set in the Wild West. 

In some photographs Niemi’s character is captured in a pink dress, while in other works her desire to be something different, to be ‘another’ – in this instance a cowboy – is illustrated through her being dressed in fringe and leather, riding horses and roaming the desert.

The_Imaginary_Cowboy_©_Anja_Niemi[1]

The Imaginary Cowboy © Anja Niemi

More active, vital depictions of the artist outdoors are juxtaposed with scenes in which we see her delicately clothed and still amid quiet interior spaces. In both sets of imagery, interestingly though, we never see her face, implying that perhaps her character’s identity is not settled in either place.

And here’s something to inspire us self-portraitists: Niemi put on her cowboy attire, rented a car and hiked up and down the mountains in order to grow into her character. She even rode a horse in the same field John Wayne filmed one of his famous horse battles! That’s dedication to one’s craft, right?

The+Girl+©+Anja+Niemi+_+The+Little+Black+Gallery

The Girl © Anja Niemi

She Could Have Been A Cowboy is on view at Steven Kasher Gallery, New York until 14 April, followed by Photo London from 17-20 May, and finally at Ravestijn Gallery, Amsterdam during Unseen, from 8 September-21 October