Thursday, 17 November 2011

Self-Portrait Photography

In this post I am going to be looking at self-portrait photography and have included three photographs that I took as part of my self-portrait project.

Self-portraiture is the art of capturing the person who is creating a piece of work, in the piece itself. So, if an artist were to paint a portrait of themselves onto a canvas, this would be a self-portrait piece of work. The same theory applies to photographers; if a photographer took a photograph of themselves, let’s say in the reflection of a mirror, this would be a self-portrait photograph, as they, the creator of the photograph, are featured in the image. Self-portrait photographs can be extremely powerful in conveying the mood, emotion, and character of the subject. However, a self-portrait doesn't have to feature the persons face, it can include objects that are very important to that person, in order to convey their character. For example, if someone was really into cycling, they could photograph a bike and use that as their self-portrait image, as it is a part of who they are.

After producing a coursework project on portrait photography last year, I edited nearly all of my images into grey-scale; I believe that this allows for the image to be `stripped` down of any distractions and enables the viewer to solely focus on the subject’s character within the image.

All these images were taken on my Canon EOS 500D with my standard 18-55mm lens.
Click on the images to enlarge them.

`Atlas` - Douglas Benge
I produced this self-portrait image with a map that is seemingly `wrapped` over my face, to convey my love for travelling. I also wanted to try and experiment a bit with Photoshop for this image. There were a lot of editing processes involved within the creation of this image, from clipping masks to the lasso tool, overlaying and using the blurring filter. The main process I used was the `Displace` filter in Photoshop, this can be found under `Filter`, `Distort` and then `Displace`. There are plenty of tutorials on `YouTube` showing you how to use the `Displace` filter, just type in `Photoshop Tutorial - Displacement Map`.

Douglas Benge
I was inspired to take this photograph after studying Mikael Eliasson, a portrait photographer who photographs most of his subjects posing with blank expressions­. I have gone about this by creating a really simple set up in terms of framing and composition. My head is in the centre of the frame, still leaving some thinking space for the viewer; this is much like Eliasson’s style of framing, with the subject composed right in the centre of the image. Eliasson’s portraits are almost all in colour, there wasn’t much colour tone within my image; I therefore edited it into grey-scale. I then adjusted the brightness and contrast to the level that I wanted. Just to experiment, I put both the brightness and contrast levels up as high as they would go, I decided that this looked really effective, so left it as my final image. The blank expression on my face along with the use of grey-scale lets the viewer look into my eyes and decide for themselves who I am.

`My Style` - Douglas Benge
I have produced this photograph in the way that I have, to convey my passion for `old style` photography. I am really interested in grey-scale photography and have always believed that old photographs, quite often, have so much more character then any modern photographs that have been edited into the `old style` of photography. I have quite a unique style of photography and wanted to try and combine this with my passion for `old style` photographs. The strange facial expression I am pulling connotes my unique character and photographic style. I edited the image into grey-scale, as well as adding grain, a scratched texture, a negative film-strip, and a vignette effect to try and add age to the photograph. I edited a glass plate negative frame onto my image, to give it that final touch, aging the photograph even more. I am really pleased with the final result, as I believe it illustrates my character perfectly.

Top Tip:
`When taking self-portrait photographs, be yourself! The photograph is about you and is focused on conveying your character to the viewer. 
Remember, you don’t always have to include yourself in the image; you could just photograph something that means a lot to you, or an object that conveys your character.`

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