Saturday, June 25, 2011

About Face

(Snapped on 6/14/11)

All righty, so...I've decided to take on a little side project, and here's the plan: every so often, I shall snap self-portraits that will focus on my face only (well mostly) which I know may not sound like that big of a deal, but since it is something of a departure from how I typically approach my shoots, I'm looking at it as a way to try and cover new ground...while simultaneously addressing something that makes me uncomfortable.

Normally, I'm a stickler about making sure that my entire body makes it into each shot - and the reason for that is twofold:

1.) even though it can be terribly frustrating, I do kind of dig the challenge of getting my whole self into pics. where either space is limited and/or camera placement is tricky, or when movement is the theme of a shoot. I can't tell you how many otherwise nifty images I've junked, because my toes or my elbow or the top of my head were conspicuously cropped outta frame. And...

2.) my face (and my hair) are not exactly the physical features that I consider to be my best assets...and so by taking pictures where all of me is visible, there's a greater likelihood that viewers will be more apt to focus on something, anything other than my face (and my hair). Unless of course I've intentionally teased my mop into absolute oblivion, or globbed-on heavy, dark make-up - in order to mask or make fun of the things that I feel are problematic with my face (and my hair).

In many of the self pics. that please me the most, my face is tipped up or turned partially (or even completely) away from the camera. I'm hesitant to share photos of myself face-on, because by now I've learned that it's not my best angle, and at times I can look downright frightening.

For this - the inaugural installment of the About Face Project - I woke up, got out of bed, and went straight outside into the harsh morning light - to try my hand at these somewhat more macro self-portraits. I wore no make-up, and did absolutely nothing to try and remedy my extreme case of bedhead - and after 84 (predominantly foiled) attempts, I realized that this might be more difficult than I'd ever expected..and that maybe I didn't like the idea after all.

Although I did finally manage to get my face properly centered inside of the picture frame, and the important subject matter into the shots - I was horrified that each and every facial imperfection was magnified at such close range, and by the intense sunlight. I had to tweak the hell out of the image above before I felt comfortable posting it here on my blog...

Now it goes without saying - that I have obvious hang-ups with vanity, but good lord! I had no clue going into this, that confronting the issue head-on? Would be an even bigger hurdle to clear - than the logistics behind featuring my face as the focal point...


  1. This image got an involuntary "oh, wow!" from me at first glance... stunning shot!

  2. Additionally, I'd say that limiting shots by things like 10-second windows, etc., is a really good thing... spending all day setting up for one shot is OK, but in some ways, those who do that are more technicians than artists. On-the-fly ability is possibly better, IMO.

  3. @Steve Mouzon - DagGONE, Steve! I'm so glad you LIKE it! Perhaps my own worst critic - all I can see is everything that I wish I could change about the pic..

    In regards to your 2nd comment - I think the part about this shoot that made it so difficult, was not so much the 10 second time limit, but rather - focussing more on the modeling than I'm used to. For the first time I can remember, it really made a difference that I couldn't see how the pictures looked as they were being snapped. I realized very quickly that cranking down more tightly on myself as the subject, left less room for error than in the self-portraits that I take from a distance. I could review the photos after I'd taken them of course, and I knew what I NEEDed to do to get 'em right - but because I couldn't see what things looked like as the shutter clicked, in the end it was pretty much a crap shoot. This was one of the last pictures I took, and although I did finally manage to get the light in my eyes the way that I wanted - I wasn't happy with the way my left hand looked...always sumthin'.

    I agree with you though about your "technician" theory...but then again, I guess I kinda have to - since I'm a totally "primitive" photographer using crappy equipment, and simultaneously doubling as my own model, haha!

  4. This may or may not help with your hang ups with vanity (which I'm pretty sure every woman has), but my wife and I saw you walking into a restaurant a few weeks ago and we both commented on how attractive you are. Personally, this is one of my favorite photos of you... makeup-less bed head and all.

  5. @A Redditor - Jeez...that's AWEsome! I'm thrilled that you LIKE it so well - makeup-less, bed head and all! And on top of the fact that I'm blushing (over the nice thing you mentioned about you and your wife) I'm also wondering about something else. Are you sure it was me that you saw in the restaurant? I can't even remember the last time I was even IN one. Well...except for my daughter's 8th grade graduation luncheon - wasn't there...right? Or WAS it...

    my email: - just in case you feel like helping me solve the mystery :)

  6. I must agree with Steve. This is a great portrait! And I should know. I worked as a portrait photographer for many years.
    It is a strong depiction of a lovely woman.

    And as for the technical details; this could have been a studio set-up. Don't knock your equipment. You are producing incredible work. As I have mentioned before; many great photographs have been made with the simplest of cameras.