Posts tagged self portraits
Helmut Lang Gives Me Power
Yesterday was the important kind of day where I knew I had to be a boss lady and look like a million bucks. I came, I went, and I conquered, but I also had to show off this incredible Helmut Lang linen blend vest I picked up at Nordstom Rack. As soon as I laid eyes on it, I fell in love with its smart, geometric shape. This kind of garment flirts with androgyny by teetering on the edges of boxy and fitted, while actually flattering a curvy figure like mine. 

I wanted to look both professional and edgy, so I decided to wear a simple and breathable v-neck chiffon blouse by Ro & De under the vest.

Sondra Roberts winged cross body, also available at Nordstrom Rack. I call this my mini, inexpensive Chloe bag. A girl can dream right?

Paired with my all-time favorite witchy ankle boot, Pizzazz by John Fluevog
Mind The Gap
This warm October has been ideal for shooting outside, though I wish I could say I had more of an opportunity to do so. After work, I drove over to the Cumberland Monastery and Cumberland Public Library today to shoot. It was beautiful and colorful and the leaves were so active and energized. I wandered around the trails and the gardens on the grounds and found interesting little things to preoccupy myself with. I sank back into my own head for a while and untied some mental knots. The disjointedness of the past few weeks has been exhausting but noticing how the elements of the world beyond me fit together with such unity somehow assured me of my own questions. It sounds so Thoreauvian of me to acknowledge all of this but it's undeniable that spending time walking around and looking at and thinking about things other than ourselves will eventually trigger a connection that will put something into complete perspective.

 I think I'll head back to the Monastery sometime soon to shoot again. It felt good to go out alone.

What I Meant By
After feeling like I had reached a plateau in the series, I pulled together these last five images to round it off. Finally having natural light, I decided to mix light sources to see the effect it would have on the work. With the exception of the last image (which I think would fit in nicely with the second week of work), these images have a softer, more sensual tone to them, mostly attributed to the variation in light sources, warmer editing and 8x10 cropping. I liked the idea of peeking hands that gave an indication of aggravation but do not dominate the composition.

What I found most intriguing about the project weren't the images themselves, nor the process, but the perspective. The first round of feedback I received from the course instructor was simply a concern for my own well-being rather than a criticism of the work. On numerous occasions, I had to defend myself with a disclaimer that these images which could be loosely interpreted as "self-mutilation" (it's a valid point) are in no way autobiographical. I plainly missed this as saw the all from the whole series from the other side as a photographer. Despite the technicality of being "self-portraits," I took a completely objective standpoint when composing these photographs. I was the model but the subjects were the elements I mentioned in previous explanations: color and discoloration, light and shadow, texture and line. Subjectivity vs. objectivity. I shoot best when I'm alone and like I mentioned in the final critique of the class, I would have felt uncomfortable with a model performing these actions simply because the boundaries between model and photographer would have made the series less compelling. Model vs. mind. I birthed the idea so I thought it best to carry it out despite the implications of self-harm in self-portraiture. Stigma vs. bravery.

(As disappointing and disillusioning as it may be, nothing in these photographs actually hurt anyway.)

"A Wanness"
I lost focus this week among colds, checklists and gratuitous spending for the sake of art shows. I could not settle down with subject. Next week, my final presentation for the class, will be better.

Pushing myself a bit further with this series, I attempted to concentrate on mainly shadow and discoloration. Sickly yellows and aggravated pinks. "A wanness," my instructor remarked this week. One student said the photos reminded him of hospital lighting, washed out, a sallow fluorescent glow.

The series could, in fact, relate to illness, a worsening of conditions, a self-antagonization. Two unified parts working against each other, mind and body, fingers and flesh. The hand in these photos is the perpetrator, scratching, harsh, present and unshy of the violence; and the body, the victim.


The Pretty Things
I am learning to embrace the uncomfortable, to revel in the tension, to create in the unrest. Continuing the direction of discoloration and distortion of flesh, I chose to chase this idea of disturbance down a similarly violent but more relatable path by photographing my least favorite part of me, my feet, and use them to my advantage.

The reception of last week's flesh series was mixed yet motivating. The reaction was much more involved than I expected, though I knew I was catching on to something powerful. This week, I planned on shooting with a model, partly by my own curiosity partly per the suggestion of my instructor, but things fell through. I caught myself repeating ideas. I decided to take the weekend to think about it.

After photographing in New Hampshire for ten hours this weekend, for the first time ever, I could say that I was literally sore from my work. Inspired by my pathetically aching feet, I was motivated to depict the act of stretching. Pointed toes are typically seen as a convention of womanhood–graceful and light–but when looking a bit closer, it's clear that the act is as deformed as the flex. Pools of blood under layers of skin, tightly strained tendons and the gathering of bones further push the idea of bodily limitations. The human looks alien. The poise, repulsive. The body, misshapen.

A Distortion of Beauty
To keep myself inspired and active outside of work, I enrolled in a RISD photography class knowing that the expectations were going to be much different than at Saint Anselm. The class objective is to inspire and create a body of work which would "question beauty," which would violate boundaries and bring to consciousness the uncomfortable, irritable crawling sensation one experiences when photography feels along with the viewer. Our first body of work all demonstrated how well we know our cameras, how gifted we are with the craft. Personally, I wasn't happy with the way my assignment turned out, despite the assurance of the rest of the class. I wanted to dig deeper but I was struggling to understand how.

Originally inspired by Bill Brandt, Lucien Clergue, and Alfred Stieglitz, I intended on extracting their focus of nude lines and angled hands with shape and shadow in my own work. However, after looking and talking and seeing the series I had created, I felt as though it was a safe direction.

Striving to create "the disturbing image" or something that generally strayed from the usual soft aesthetic of my work, I composed this series of color and discoloration, femininity and flesh, obedience and revolt.