Creative: Selfie vs Self-Portrait

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This film shouldn’t be taken too seriously even though what I say is true. Well, at least mostly true. My history of turning the camera on myself began in the early 90s while studying photojournalism. An assignment, with a 4×5 no less, to photograph me. The entire class mutinied. Ultimately, we were forced to complete the assignment and so began my anti-love affair with the self-portrait.

However, in the age of the selfie, one of the worst uses of time in history, I have fallen back in love with GOOD self-portraiture. A selfie is about the “me,” while a self-portrait is about the image and the components within that image. Selfies are valueless and vapid, mostly, but the self-portrait can be used in a variety of professional ways. Again, this isn’t critical to our photographic survival but it sure is entertaining to ponder these things.

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  1. I actually have a goofy self portrait project going. On my last day of work, I took a picture of myself in my classroom. Some kids wrote some nice things on my chalkboard and I thought it would be cool to document that along with me on my last day. Since then I have made a photo of myself that same day each year and then I paste each year’s picture in my journal along with the old ones. It’s interesting to see the aging process year to year.

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  2. I love when you said “Put down the phone and think just for a minute, how can I make something with me as an element.” Your example of a self portrait is an excellent image; well done and created. When I think of self portraits, Vivian Maier and Francesca Woodman come to mind because their photographs are layered. Self portraits are indeed layered and filled with information. Selfies are embarrassing and when I was creating my Survivor: My Father’s Ghosts series, I created self portraits along the way. They were carefully considered and help to tell the story of my father’s survival of 8 Nazi forced labor camps. I look forward to the day when selfies are not part of the vernacular.

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      Yes, spot on. Arno Minkkinen is another good example. And also one of the best speakers I’ve heard in all my time in photography. Not sure if you saw him speak at Palm Springs but it was….memorable. But, he, like the others you mention, actually have something to say. They aren’t waiting for the industry or social norms to tell them what to do or how to do it. Big difference.

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