Saturday, May 11, 2013

"The Big Ugly Self-Portrait Challenge"

Sooooo...I've been thinking...I've been thinking about an idea that I hadn't really had before...thanks entirely to the lovely gentleman seen in the timed self-portrait above (which I personally happen to love, btw).

The man, Raymond - is a frequent visitor to, and commenter on my blog - and from time to time we chat via email. At some point during our casual, ongoing convo - we touched on the notion that it is very possible, that most folks have no real sense of what I put myself through on a typical self-portrait shoot. You know like, oftentimes there's a deceivingly serene quality to my selfpics that (except on rare occasions) - belies how truly difficult even the most seemingly simple shoot can be.

One evening recently, Raymond sent me a message in which he recounted something that had happened to him earlier that day. He told of having gone out into the snow, so that he might take pictures of the frost-covered trees - but found himself drawn to a simple red bridge spanning a narrow, frozen river. The bridge was so brilliantly contrasted against the pristine snow and vivid blue sky, that he simply couldn't resist making it the subject of the day's shoot, instead. 

Not long after setting up his equipment and snapping a few frames though, Raymond decided that he wanted to try adding a little something to the images that he was capturing, by including a "human interest" element - himself, to be specific. He set the timer on his camera, and executed the "timed self-portraiture" mad dash - a total of 12 times...after which he gathered his gear, and wearily made his way back to his car - fairly well physically spent following the impromptu self-portrait shoot that he staged in the snow. 

Upon returning home, Raymond eagerly uploaded the day's bounty onto his computer - only to discover that the self-portraits that he'd been so excited to review, were an all-out, bitter disappointment (his wife got a chuckle out of 'em though, so it wasn't all for naught).

Raymond opened the email that he sent to me that evening, by saying, "I now have a better understanding of how hard you must work producing your pictures"...and by the time I'd read the entirety of his note - my wheels had begun to turn...but not the same way that I'm used to them turning... 

I had already begun fleshing out the deets of a challenge that I was entertaining possibly posing to you - my dear readers - when I received yet another message from Raymond, with the above self-portrait attached, accompanied by his explanation for how the picture came about. 

Raymond had read my "Scheduled Maintenance" blog entry, and coincidentally - he had a vehicle service appointment scheduled for the very next day. So he decided to take the general idea behind the photo that he'd seen on my blog, and run with it - but in his own unique direction...and if you ask me, the image with which Raymond came away from the dealership that day - is far more interesting than my own "dealership bathroom" self-snap. BRAVO!

Long story (not so) short...the whole thing had Raymond and me both thinking, that perhaps the best way for anyone to gain a true appreciation for the demands that dash photography makes on any photographer/model - would be to simply give it a whirl, themselves....

...which brings me to the challenge that I would like to pose to you guys: 

Come up with an idea for your own self-portrait shoot (this is an open themed contest, so pretty much anything goes), set up your cameras, (no matter how crappy or awesome), engage the timer (no remote triggers, please), and try your hand at dash photography yourselves! It doesn't matter to me if you are male, or female...nude, or clothed...or if your pictures were taken in your own house, out in public, or anywhere in between. Your face doesn't even have to be visible in the pic., (if you're concerned about protecting your identity). Just have fun with it, and be as creative as you like!

Next, attach your single most favorite jpeg image outta the whole lot - to an email addressed to: - by midnight, Friday, May 31st, 2013. 

Please also include in your email (along with the image that you are submitting):

1.) Your name, or whatever moniker you would like to go by

2.) Your email address (so that I can contact you, if need be)

3.) The link to your website or blog - but ONLY if you would like for me to include it with the rest of the results from the challenge

Once all of your submissions have been received by the May 31st deadline, I shall pore over them carefully, in search of the five images that impact me the most. The self-portrait artists whose work makes the top five list, will receive an official, "Big Ugly" t-shirt (squeeee!), and will be featured in a blog entry dedicated to this...the first - "Big Ugly Self-Portraiture Challenge"!

 I'd really like to publish each and every image that I receive, actually - but in order to be able to do so, I need you to please be mindful of the fact that my children do look at my blog. My own personal rule of thumb - is that I never post any images here on The Big Ugly, that I wouldn't feel comfortable showing to my kids...and so all I ask is that you please adhere to the same rule of thumb, while making the selections for your submissions. Think - "tastefully done" or "fine art" nudes, if that's the direction you would like to take with this project - THANK You!!

Also, by now you probably know that I am a bit of a minimalist when it comes to editing my self-portraits - and so I'd also like to ask that you please refrain from using PhotoShop or any similar photo editing software, to manipulate your images beyond simply using basic editing tools. Things like: cropping, adjusting exposure, contrast, saturation, sharpening, definition, highlights, shadows, color - are totally acceptable. I just don't want to see images where a person's likeness has been superimposed on some sort of make-believe background, that type of thing - ya' know? Stick as closely to a, "What You See Is What You Get" approach to editing your work, as you possible can. And listen, if you do have questions about any of this (cuz I know that it may seem a bit confusing), please do not hesitate to contact me at:

So's where I send an enormous "THANK YOU" to Raymond, for being the catalyst that spurred this whole idea on! This is such an exciting new project for me, and I give Raymond all of the credit for putting the bee in my bonnet!

Ok You Guys, I think that about covers it. Now get out there and start snapping and sending! I'm just itchin' to see what you all come up with!


  1. Lauralyn,

    I am so thrilled to see my picture on your blog, and that you have launched the challenge to all your readers. It should be very interesting to see what comes out of this.

    But I doubt that there will be too many photographs which can rival your undoubted genius.

    1. @Raymond - I'm really excited about all of this TOO! Thank You again, for inspiring the idea, AND for allowing me to share your self-portrait with everyone :)

  2. Hello Lauralyn,

    I love your idea, I doubt that I will participate ( I don't have a self timed camera), however I'm looking forward to seeing the end result from your millions of fans!!! Do they have to be nude??
    AMC 05/14/2013

    1. @AMC - Haha! Millions of fans?! I WISH! But anyway, No - the self-portraits do not have to be nude...naturally, I am completely OKAY with nude imagery of course - but it is in no way a prerequisite to being able to enter the contest. Oh and hey, even if you don't have a camera with a timer - there are timer apps for smart phones, if you happen to have one...Just give it a try - C'MON!!!

  3. I'm one of the MILLIONS of fans! :)

    1. @Osmyn Oree - Oh how I LOVE an optimist - THANK You, Osmyn!!!

  4. This is an utterly fantastic idea! I will have to see what I can do ...

    xx Dee

    1. @Curvaceous Dee - Oh, PLEASE do participate in my Big Ugly Challenge, Dee! And don't hesitate to mention the idea to your friends, as well! Cuz not only am I eager to see what other seasoned self-portrait artists create, and submit to the contest - but I'm also hopeful that it will inspire folks who normally wouldn't - to give timed self-portraiture a try!

  5. Ohhhh can I play too, pretty please?


    1. @Molly - Oh my goodness - YES, Molly! By all MEANS - please DO come and play! I've been so hoping that you would, actually!

  6. Ohhh I am so excited to try this! I love taking self portraits, but I always use a remote so a self timer dash will definitely be a new challenge for me! :)

    1. @Penny - HooRAY!!! I'M excited for you to try it TOO, Penny! I Can't wait to see what you send to me! :D