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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Express Yourself

Text & Photography By Meredith Winn Published in Shooting
Express Yourself
We use self-portraits to explore a basic question that plagues all of us: Who am I? As early as the mid-1400s, artists began painting themselves onto canvas. With the invention of the camera, photographers began turning the image (and their artwork) inward, as well. Yes, a photograph can tell a person what he or she looks like, but we know that the physical image doesn't reflect the whole self.

Self-portraiture insists that we embark on a journey of self-exploration. This journey of self brings about choices, the main one being how to represent ourselves authentically. We always get to choose how we see ourselves; this is the beauty of self-portraits.


Authentic self-portraits should strive to capture everyday beauty. But life is sometimes not beautiful at all, right? It can be messy and frustrating. There's illness and anger that counterbalance the joy and love. Taking the literal definition of "beauty" can be confusing when approaching topics as broad as art and self.

So, what is beautiful? Everyone has an opinion. I believe life and reality, and the thought that we're here with our cameras and film, exploring these thoughts—that is beautiful. All of it is worth documenting. Your masculinity, your femininity, your weakness and your strength—it's all truth and worthy of being seen. Your job as a photographer is to pick up your camera and begin.

I define my self-portrait project as me seeking grace through the conflict. It documents the peace within, the flurry and chaos, and the fluttering of heartbeats. My self-portraits capture where I've been and where I'm going—a circular timeline put on repeat. Photography acts as the reminder that life happens moment by moment, each and every day.

BITS AND PIECES

By focusing on small details, you can begin your photographic story. This is an easy way to start the somewhat intimidating process of self-portraits. Details can be bits and pieces of you: cropped faces, calves and bare feet, skirt hems and dress-up shoes. Details are found in the way your hair curls, the way your eyes smile, the hands you inherited from your mother or the dimple that appears with real laughter.

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