Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thoughts in ink.

I have been thinking recently about my motivations for taking self portraits.

The ability to create is a fascinating thing and I think the reason I am often fascinated with art and the things people can produce is largely because of how the aspects of each individual person can create something entirely unique based upon that persons thoughts. I think it’s the reasons I like doing self portraiture, even though it is something that a lot of people don’t understand, is that for me it’s about exploration. Sometimes that exploration results in, what some would say, fairly mundane or uninteresting images because on that particular trip there was less I was discovering or less I needed to emote. Whereas some explorations result in a far more expressive and honest images and that is usually when I am going through something specific or a time in my life when I’m exploring something in my mind. I think that’s why my self portraits often show a lot of fragility because that’s the underlining aspect I explore most within myself, and probably one of the most common aspects of myself.

My self portraits help me, they allow me to remove myself to a certain extent, because if I’m dealing with something it allows me to be open on my own and do something! I’m creating and keeping busy, and it almost gives me purpose, and it’s a way to vent. I do struggle sometimes, I get very inspired by places, so in terms of that I completely adapt how I confront the light and elements, light being the most important to me and that often does reflect my mood and what I’m trying to say with it, but as a whole I’m not conceptually driven. It’s not a concept I’m trying to communicate, it’s a feeling, and that can become quite tedious, because if I go out to take some self portraits, on a trip of exploration, it’s often in dark times so often similar emotions will come out. I've been told, that it can be quite boring and not very experimental or that I don’t push myself, my art or my photography and I do understand where they’re coming from sure, I do want to push myself and be more interesting and find better ways of communicating that, but at the same time I’m never going to stop just going out and shooting! Some asked me, well if that’s the case, that I produce work that is similar to the last, then why do I share it? Well it’s because, it’s a unique image in itself, even if does share a familiar feeling to previous ones I have done, it’s still unique and that’s something I completely love about photography, maybe one of the most important things, it’s that moment in time. You can’t recreate a moment in time, everything about that time will be different to the last. The air will be different, the light will be different and even if I felt similar, I still would have felt different and it was a complete moment captured, so if I took it and edited it, there must have been a reason for that. And why not share it I guess?

It’s not a self indulgent thing necessarily, it’s in my veins to create, so when you want to create, an aspect of that is to share and I don’t think that’s narcissistic. It’s not a pride thing, that I’m proud and want to show it, though sometimes elements of that exist, it’s more about putting something you created from nothing out into the universe! And that can go for more than just photography, it can go for a thought, to a piece of writing, to a piece of music.

It’s ironic really, I think I have found that musicians I know have questioned my motivations for my self portraiture more than anyone else, but music as a complete whole is self indulgent! Their thoughts and ideas are communicated through music usually if not entirely about them and their experiences and what they've done. Very few songs will be about something completely unrelated to them, and if those songs were to exist then you probably wouldn't be able to relate to them as much. I like honestly, I value honesty and I think that’s what I like to do with self portraits. I think that’s what musicians like to do with songs. I can’t take an experience I've been through in my life, say falling in love, I can’t take a snapshot of that and use it to show my struggles in an art form, whereas musicians can, they vent, and are able to almost directly draw on that and write about it and express themselves through it, which is completely therapeutic and I can’t do that directly. Whereas with a self portrait, partially I do it as an escape, and partially I like how through it I can still express my state, my emotion, it’s not sometimes obvious, it’s not a picture of me screaming or pulling my hair out, but it’s my mood, it’s where my head was when I took it, and that will always be reflected in the image.


  1. Hello Alexandra,

    I couldn't agree more, self portraiture is not in the least bit self indulgent and I am sure for the vast majority of practitioners it is also not about vanity either.

    To my mind (and certainly for me) it is about seeing myself in different and changing lights, getting to both challenge and explore myself. Push boundaries that I never thought I could, would, or even wish too.

    I find it an incredibly personal experience that I deeply enjoy and I find myself on a real high both during the thought and planning stages right through to the doing and onwards for a few days after.

    You certainly have a lovely collection of self taken photographs, that shows a great talent.



  2. Must admit that I think it's easier to do self portraits when you are
    a) young
    c)very pretty
    Being a lumpen old clod I usually hate my self portraits :-) Not because of the body issues exactly (discussed in your other blog post) but more because in my head I'm still 24 ... seeing the 57 year old me is always a shock !