Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Art of the Self Portrait - Feature interview: Miss Aniela

Ok so here it is, the final interview and to finish off the feature i was able to get an interview with one of the most successful and celebrated self portrait artists out there....Miss Aniela.

Her frame game, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

1. Fill me in on your background, where are you from and how did you get in to photography?

I live in Brighton, Sussex. My passion for photography developed outside of my studies (English and Media degree) in my spare time. I now work full-time self-employed as an artist. The novelty of uploading pictures onto Flickr is what got me started. I enjoyed making and sharing self-portraits.

For Tatus, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

2. Who has influenced you the most in terms of photography?

I have to say Rosie Hardy - she has permeated my core. I can't help but see her artistic idealism in everything I wish to create when I am planning or trying to shoot an image. She has magic, which so many photographers and artists lack. There is always more than one dimension to her images - they are never entirely superficial, or entirely conceptual. I tend to dislike work that veers to either extreme. Rosie cracks the balance effortlessly to get both into her photography, and she's only 19. But, like any love, sometimes I wonder if I am in love with an illusion I have created, whether it's really there, or whether I have stood it up in front of her images for my eyes to devour, like a false idol. The problem with boldly digitally-manipulated work (like mine or hers) is that it tends to fall apart the more you look at it, rather than grow stronger, as you get with more natural, solid photography. But Rosie has also inspired me with her 'get up and go' attitude, and adventurous spirit.

3. Why do you prefer to take self portraits?

Self-portraiture has been my passion in photography and is the reason why I got into the art. Combined with the immediacy of using a digital camera, and the limitless world of post-processing, was what drew me into it. I like the complete independence and control you get with using a digital camera, Photoshop and yourself as a model. There is no compromise over the final result and the images are at once personal and yet universal in that other people can view the images and identify with them.

The jitters, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

4. What is your process when taking self portraits from getting ideas to editing?

It varies, even if I have a plan, it might not go to plan exactly because of the difficulty of being both model and photographer. I tend to start with one element, like a prop I want to use, a nice location I find, or sometimes just start shooting, which can be frustrating, but sometimes lucky. The editing stage can be where a lot of experimentation takes place. More nowadays, I want to start with a concept, and represent that concept.

The escape, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

5. What are your tools of the trade?

Canon 5d mark II, tripod, Photoshop CS4, a CF card reader, and a 'just do it' attitude! - which sometimes I need to get back!

Reverie, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

6. Where do you hope to go with your photography and self portraits?

Just keep going. I have never expected certain things to happen as they have happened, so I wouldn't like to be specific about where it might take me. I just want to keep pursuing exhibitions and print sales primarily. Making money from print sales is the most satisfying (and least complicated) way I have ever made money.

Pink and read, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

7. Why do you think people are drawn to self portraits and what is you impression of the people that think it's just narcissistic?

Self-portraiture is attractive for many reasons: having control over one’s appearance, having absolute control over a concept, being able to do something without compromise, and also being able to put one’s personal experience into imagery. I think all art is a personal expression to some extent, so using oneself as a model need not always be a narcissistic experience. Narcissism itself, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. One can be intrigued by their own ‘image’ and different ways of self-representation without being vain or arrogant.

Disturbed, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

8. Who are some other self portrait artists that you admire?

Rossina Bossio, Chrissie White, Joanne Ratkowski, Annette Pehrsson, Rosie Hardy, Brooke Shaden

Sea view, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

9. What is your best tip to taking a self portrait?

It's hard to be on both sides of the lens, so you have to let your ideas sway a bit, become malleable to the spontaneity of the shooting. This can be annoying sometimes, rewarding at other times. Also, just get up and do it. I spend too much time thinking and wondering how I might do something. It's good to plan, but make sure you actually do it. That goes for all photography I suppose, and most things in life too!

Excess baggage, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

10. Your photos seem to incorporate your surroundings, is this a big part of your style?

Yes, I am more excited by images that show some context. I am, usually, least interested in doing headshots or other kinds of close ups. Adding context makes the feeling of narrative more likely, and may make the image more meaningful than gratuitous.

On the rocks, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

11.Where do you look for inspiration for your work?

Flickr, and the occasional photography books people get me for Christmas. I also look to my dreams, and to my mind, for things I wish to communicate in messages through my work.

The piano, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

12. What is your favourite self portrait you have taken? (Link and describe why)

My favourites inevitably change over time, at the moment one that springs to mind is 'The adjustment'.

The adjustment, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

It's not a nude, so no-one can harp on about me using my body to get attention. It's not a trick image (only very subtlely) so no-one equally can be distracted by the 'hows' and the mechanisms of the production and query me as to how I 'did it'. And, whilst it is a slight 'composite', ie. one small part layered in Photoshop, it's not heavily processed, so people don't go on about my 'digital techniques' more than anything. It's an image that uses shape in a way that I think is interesting, and I think it has my style because of these eye-catching sweeping shapes that are, as I say, not too OTT and 'photoshopped'.

Memoirs of a Woman of Leisure, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

13. What are some of your favourite films, books and musicians?

Films: Marnie, Ghost, The Birds, A Clockwork Orange, Jane Eyre (2006), Bugsy Malone

Books: Lolita, Madame Bovary, Jane Eyre, Testament of Youth, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Music: RDB, Manic Street Preachers, Elektryczne Gitary

Outtake, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

14. What has been your biggest achievement so far with your photography?

Probably being on the cover of American Photo. And being able to become self-employed and financially supported by photography so soon.

:D, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

15. Which self portrait artist do you think i should interview next and why?

Rosie Hardy...? :)


16. Do you often change alot of the original photo in photoshop? For example, do you feel more confident with a self portrait if you airbrush it?

It depends on whether we are referring to the overall picture or to my own looks in particular. If I wish to create something that is a trick image, then I will spend a few hours tweaking the whole image, myself and the surrounding, to look 'unreal'. But if we are talking about my appearance, then I don't necessarily tweak myself in Photoshop to look idealistic or blemish-free. I definitely used to take this approach, especially back in the days when my camera produced noise on my face and I'd want to smooth it out, magazine-style. Now, however, I'm increasingly drawn toward breaking down that norm, to showing the 'realness', to being bored by pursuit of perfection. What's the point? To have a load of people saying how 'beautiful' I am in the image? First, that is dreary anyway, and if the image is airbrushed, then it's also misinformed and superficial. I think of my image 'Futility' when I say all this. The image is not ugly, and not necessarily so natural either; I like things to be bold, but with a realism within it. I like my maunginess in the image.

Wet, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

To be honest, no amount of processing can create shapes in an image that weren't there to begin with, and shapes are usually what makes me 'like' a certain image of myself. I usually start with an image that has an interesting shape (like this one, The dance) and then use processing to enhance the effect of it, the surroundings, the colour and tone etc.

The dance, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

17. Do you think you have an original style that is your own?

I think every artist struggles with this, and maybe doesn’t see their own style for a while till it develops, or, doesn’t see it through their own eyes, only through other people’s recognition. One thing I would recommend is to put your work alongside other people’s, especially in things like collections and book compilations, where you collaborate with other artists to show your work. In doing that, I have noticed some characteristics to my work. I’ve noticed it’s often bold, with sweeping shapes in the frame, and I’ve also been told that I use a more varied colour palette than other photographers or self-portrait artists. Whatever my ‘style’ might be, like everyone else, sometimes you love these characteristics that pop up in your work, and accept them as your own; and some days you hate them, and feel like you can’t escape them!

Feeling yellow, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

18. Give us the skinny, what's the next big project you've got coming up?

A commercially published book, hopefully to be released second half of 2010!

Hide & seek, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

20. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

An artist, writer, or, 'a rabbit'

Her possession, originally uploaded by Miss Aniela.

See more of her work here on Flickr

See her blog here

Big thank you to Miss Aniela, please comment and show your apreciation, this interview will also apear on soon so keep watching.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. very informative interview. i love her point of view and i thank you for bringing it out. her images encourage me to push a little harder and try to think and see things differently.

  3. Great questions and interesting answers I've had a crush on Miss Aniela since I stumbled upon her beautiful world of photos a year ago. Amazing creativity! Love love love it.

  4. All of these images are stunning. Great interview from an inspiration.

  5. Wow! Her photos are stunning and your interview was such a good read! Thanks!

    Jen x

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  11. I read the interview, quite interesting.Miss Aniela always use her strength on female self portraits, why not on male self portraits?

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