Self-Portrait Series : LUSENET : B&W Photo: URL Review : One Thread

Someone mentioned a self-portait in one of the other URL references. I did a series a few months ago, which can be found by clicking here. Two comments: 1) there is no thumbnail page, but there are only five images in the series, and 2) there is no nudity, but parental advisory warning applies .) Comments are welcome.

-- Jeff Spirer (, January 04, 1999


"Look, Ma! My bald head spins like a top!" :)

This brings to mind one of the things I have always wondered: When is a portrait not a portrait?

The escence of a portrait is to portray the subject. It is a fragment in time, a formal fragment. I consider a snapshot to be an informal fragment. For that fragment to be a portrait of person, it needs to portray something about the person.

So: What do you think you are portraying about yourself? What do you think these show about you? Would you want any of these on your wall? If you paid $1000 for the services of a prominent photographer and got these, how would you feel?

The only sense that I get from these is that Freud would have had a field day with you.

Man, if I had a bald head looking that good, I'd photograph myself to make Yul Brenner weep in his grave with envy.

-- Brian C. Miller (, January 05, 1999.

What do you think you are portraying about yourself? What do you think these show about you?

The problem I have with most portraits is that they tell me absolutely nothing about the subject. Some, like Annie L's, tell me what kind of caricature Annie L would paint. Most of what I see labeled "portraits" are headshots and tell me nothing about the person other than a set of physical characteristics. I can get that kind of portrait at K-Mart.

I think these say something about me, even if it isn't what I am physically, or if it isn'e the kinds of things people want to know about me.

Would you want any of these on your wall?

Maybe. I'm out of wall space. My mother wouldn't, but my father would, for what it's worth. They would need to be printed better - these are 8x10 RC proofs with no work other than contrast and crop from 6x6.

If you paid $1000 for the services of a prominent photographer and got these, how would you feel?

If it was done by Ralph Eugene Meatyard, I would be quite happy. Unfortunately, he died before I could ask him, but his work was a strong source of inspiration for this series.

I posted it here to find out something else - I'm stuck right now thinking about thumbnail galleries vs "walk-through" galleries (my primary online gallery is thumbnailed.) I want people to see a certain order, and even certain pairings, but some people want to only look at what interests them. I can understand both points of view, but want to find a compromise. I am working on a large (photo) essay about an area in southern Mexico, and can't get my hands around what to do with the photos on the web. It's easy in a show - I can pair them and put them in order, but people can still stand in the middle of the room and choose what to look at. I suppose I can replicate this on the web, with a thumbnail page, but I'm not sure people will take the walkthrough if the thumbnails are there.

-- Jeff Spirer (, January 05, 1999.

Intereting indeed. Definitely something I never would have thought about doing for a self portraiture. At first site I immediately thought of that movie, Jacob's Ladder. If I ever need psychological help I'll be sure to take a few like this of myself to give them something to really analyze. :-) Strangely enough, though, I did like it. Of course, I'm known to like anything that's different and this is definitely a different way to take self portraits. Art is never good or bad since everyone is different; I can love one thing while another will find the same thing discusting. As far as the browsing goes: How about doing both? Create thumbnails and a gallery walkthrough. Not hard to do. You already have a walkthrough, right? Just make a page with smaller photos of the ones you have and link them straight to the ones in the gallery. Ta-dah! You've given your visitors a choice to do both. Oh and, don't forget to create a gallery of the shoot in Mexico. Would like to see how differently you see the world there as well. Have fun and keep the spirit of photography alive within yourself.

-- Leslie Ratliff (, January 05, 1999.

Yeah, the Kmart/Sears/Booth-in-the-mall "portraits" really don't show anything. I much prefer environmental portraiture. Then I can at least say, "And in this documentary photograph, we usually find the person here." Rather like a nature show. (And here we find on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Peter Fowler narrating how Jim Gros is fending off a hungry white shark with a toothpick...)

This portrait series seems more like artwork, and not a representation of you. The book, "The Business of Portrait Photography", has one fellow in it who does the same thing. A portrait, but not a portrait. There is one photo which shows an abstractly painted horse (sandwiched negative/double exposure on the paper/whatever) in a coral, and some cowboys around the coral who seem to have been unable to tame the horse. So I ask myself, whom is this portraying? An individual? A recognizable group? Nobody. It's an art photo, masquerading as a portrait.

So that's what your series represents to me. I'll bet that you usually aren't found with a gun to your head, being hung, or wearing a mask. Maybe with your head whizzing around, sure. At least Bob Bennett's portrait of you gives me the idea that you might be found with camera and tripod, around bits of derelict buildings, equipment, and such.

The basic premise of the portrait is to portray someone's features. Beyond that, I think that it should show a little about the person. Like some kind of light through the windows of the soul. (Problematic: The lights are on, but nobody's home...) Or something key to a person's personality. Like a portrait of a cellist performing. For me it is far easier to photograph an older person than a younger person because the codger has seen things, done things, and there is character there.

A coworker's girlfriend used to run a studio in New York. She pulled in about $200K/year, and the critics called her photography second rate. What kept people coming to her studio (and paying $2K+ per session) was that she has a gift for capturing expressions. What she did was that she would first talk to the person. Failing that, she had a 200W stereo and a huge rack of tapes & CDs. Failing that, she would walk up to the client, say, "Excuse me, but this is necessary." Next would come a fast left hook. When the client gave her and angry stare, she said, "OK, hold that expression!"

Now: How many photographers belt themselves in the face when doing a self portrait? :D

-- Brian C. Miller (, January 06, 1999.

I've been working on a self-portrait series for almost a year now. Starting shortly before my 39th birthday, and until my 40th birthday, I'm taking one self-portrait per day to document my 40th year. I intend for the final form to be contact sheets, so I've tied up one 6x6 camera body for this project. There's been a few individual images that I've really liked, but I view the collection as a look into what I'm doing, what my environment is like, and how I'm feeling for the year.

I got the idea for this project from the woman at:

My implementation of the photography is different, and I'm not publishing the photos or a written journal on the web. It's been an interesting project.

-- mike rosenlof (, January 07, 1999.

I hear you say that you want viewers to see something of your inner self and not just a static two dimensional image. I'm a viewer and I see a body with a blur where a head normally sits. Am I supposed to see something else? Did I miss the point? Nice way to confuse viewers as to who you really are. Now Mother Teresa, you knew something about her inner self by the context which you saw her in the prints. I hope what I saw on your page wasn't what you are like inside. James

-- james (, January 08, 1999.

Mike: A self-portrait a day seems like a very good idea. I remember listening to one writer recounting doing what one of his college teachers told him: Watch a tree, the same tree, at sunrise and sunset for one year. Just watching the tree gave him thoughts and experiences he would otherwise have passed by.

-- Brian C. Miller (, January 11, 1999.

One self portrait a day has been an interesting project. Probably most importantly, it has forced me to take at least one photograph every day. I have to give some thought to light, composition, exposure, creative expression. Constant practice is necessary to improve, or even maintain any skill. This project ends around the end of March, so I'm considering other subjects to make a detailed study.

It's also fun to look back at the photos and recall moods, events, and activities. Basically a visual journal. There have been only a few that I think stand on their own as good portraits, but the whole collection talls a lot more.

-- mike rosenlof (, January 12, 1999.

I found an interesting quote on portraits that might clarify my thoughts on the subject:

"A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion .... All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth" - Richard Avedon

-- Jeff Spirer (, January 16, 1999.

That's always a good quote. I finally had Thanksgiving photos developed, and one of my neighbors photographed me carving up the roast duck. Well, I blink when I see a flash, and that photo shows me with a smile on my face, a duck carcass in front of me, a large carving knife in my hand, and my eyelids in an odd state.

As my neighbor said, "It looks like you haven't made up your mind what to do with the knife!"

-- Brian C. Miller (, January 25, 1999.

if you like Meatyard i m sure meatyard would not like your pictures, the only think you take from him is the blur (mouvement)but there is no mistery no power no feeling in this kind of pictures. Its like if you say take my idea but there is nothing behind.In photography you need to give more deep feeling not to do demonstration.When I first start to do photography i was tempted to do some picture like this but thanks i understand quick there is nothing behind this kind of work now i m just trying to be simple. To do photography for my pleasure my emotion, to discover through my picture my self. I m steel not satisfied but this is the real game of art. Sorry for my english and try again.I m sure you will understand if you apreciate Meatyard. is my site

-- eric hadzinikitas (, April 18, 1999.

1) I don't care what Meatyard would have thought of these photos, he didn't pay me to take them.

2) You don't know what Meatyard would have thought about these photographs any more than I do. Nor did I suggest that he would have liked them.

3) Your comments are a good example of when you can learn more about the reviewer than the reviewed.

I don't mind criticism at all, but pompous twit-ism I do mind.

-- Jeff Spirer (, April 18, 1999. got more guts than "I" do!...ED. Pee-Ess...JUST kidding!...[Come to think of I aint!...I shot a few self-portrat rolls...Nude... with a Snowman I built...outdoors at night...3:00 in the morning...temperature at 18-Degrees/F...(FYI...The first things to freeze are your 'fingers'!...hah]...ED.

-- ED Cherney (, April 25, 1999.

Photography and the photographer are unbound by rules. If you want to do a self portraint of yourself with your head blurred, you are free to do so. Anyone who attempts to undermine the validity of your ideas are merely echoing a bound and limited perspective. Moreover, what rules you choose to apply in producing your work are for you to choose and discard at will. This is one of the benefits of being an artist, you say what goes. Some people may like what you're doing, others may not be so enthusiastic, but as long as you have something to say, and say it in a compelling way, people will respond and take note.

Speaking of taking note, I just checked out Eric Hadziniktas web- site. Awesomely powerful images. A must see.


-- Luke Thomas (, October 07, 2003.

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