When the "self-portrait" project was first assigned, I knew it was going to be a difficult one for me. For starters, even though I love photography, I do not like being photographed. Women tend to have an easier time with self-portraits, because I believe deep down inside, all women love to be photographed. Regardless of age, size, and shape, a good majority of women enjoy having their photo taken, especially if the photographer is skilled enough to capture them in the most flattering way. As for me, I believe what some abodiginals believe, that a photograph may in fact steal a part of my soul. = )
Though the project was difficult, I believe completing it helped me test some of my new knowledge as pertaining to lighting, posing, and composition. It also got my creative juices flowing. How does one capture the entire essence of a human being in one frame? The answer in short is that it is not possible, but certain aspects of our being can be represented in a single photo.
I love my alma mater. And I love the football team. However, there was a point in my life where attending Rutgers seemed like the plague. Today, I can say it was an amazing 4 years, and I left with great experiences, friendships, and a respectable education. The resurrection of the football program is just icing on the cake. In high school, I could have never imagined a world in which I was more proud of my Rutgers degree than the one from Harvard.
[This photo was backlit by windows, and I bounced a 580 speedlight off the ceiling to provide some fill from the front. Using the self-timer and getting into that position in 10 seconds without knocking anything over was a challenge.]
Before photography, my first creative love remains writing. Words have a certain power and timeless quality that I enjoy. I love the occasional opportunity to merge my passions in life. Oftentimes when shooting details at a wedding, words will jump out at me. I love highlighting those subtle moments. This photo was framed to show the titles and subjects of some of my favorite books. My tastes have always been eclectic, but as with all things I am into, I delve deep and with passion into topics of personal interest. I think I could be one of the world's foremost experts on Peanuts. = ) With any sort of art, I love learning about the general experiences and specific instances that led to inspiration and ultimately creation.
So why is a self-portrait important for photographers? On a macro level, I think it gives you a little more respect and appreciation for the subjects you are photographing. Not everyone is comfortable in front of the lens, and a little empathy never hurt a photographer. On a micro level, setting up your own shot, moving into the frame, and getting everything exactly the way you want it, is quite the challenge. However, going through that tedious agony can only improve your flow when photographing someone else. (If you run with 25 lb weights attached to your ankles, it should feel like you are flying when you take them off.) While I was setting up my shots and trying to execute them, I constantly longed to work with someone else as the subject. Though I've seen my mentor do it on a pretty regular basis, I now have a slightly better idea of how to give someone else direction. As always, I await what this new experience will contribute to my photography when on a real gig.
As for photography in general, I now feel comfortable enough with my gear and able to quickly find the right settings in a given situation. That has opened up more opportunities for creative energy to manifest itself. I still love every chance I get to shoot, and I love being able to pick my mentor's brain with the random questions that surface during the course of a shoot.
Shoot on. Live on.