Photo Essay

It's all about me.


I am well-known for taking self-portraits. It's an art form that I've gravitated towards over the years, and in my humble opinion, one that I've gotten particularly skilled at executing.

It started out easily enough. I was living on my own, in a city where I didn't know a single soul, and was experiencing a pretty heavy dose of lonely. I took my camera with me and started to document different things that I saw. Photography wasn't new to me, but suddenly my purpose in photography was entirely different. I didn't have the compulsion to document what I saw, rather I wanted to share how I saw it. I saw the same bridge, the same boats, the same river, every single day. But every day they meant something different to me.

This desire to share how I felt was a very difficult desire for me to actually accomplish - or so I felt. I realised my camera had a self-timer built into it, so I started experimenting with it. It didn't take me very long before I realised I was successfully accomplishing my goal. It occurred to me at some point along this road that it didn't matter to me where I was in the photos, but I was documenting, for myself, what I was thinking right then. Even now, many years later, I can look back at an old self portrait and I remember precisely what I was thinking at the time. I remember if I was happy or sad, if I was ill or homesick, heartbroken or enthralled. And I've noticed that other people observe how I felt, too. They don't know what I'm thinking, of course, but the accuracy rate on my emotional state at the time is almost perfect. It's kind of unsettling, but also compelling enough that I continue to take self portraits.

I enjoy taking photographs of other people, though I'm so busy with life at the moment that I don't have a lot of spare time to do so. I'm trying to change that. However, to me, one really has nothing to do with the other. My self portraits are very personal to me, and a very necessary exercise in simply allowing my creative soul to live from day to day.

I am in the middle of doing a project that will run the course of the entire year. A self portrait every single day. I put restrictions on this idea - the camera has to be on or near the ground. Initially I wasn't sure how well I would be able to convey my emotional state when the photos wouldn't include my face. The more I've done this project, though, the more liberation I've felt. I've been putting significantly more thought into the portraits and have consequently found myself coming up with ideas I've never considered before. I have a waiting list of ideas! That's never happened before.

In the end, I don't really care what anybody thinks of my self portraits. I make them solely for me and my artistic desire to express how I feel at the time I take them. It's become a compulsion, something I rely on months later when I look back at my life. I like having a life made of photographs. I like looking back and remembering that favourite sweater, that hideous haircut, how I set the table, how I made my bed.

And sharing memories is one of the greatest gifts of all.

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