Self-portraits: Part One

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Quick note, when I do this “Part One” routine, do I ever do a “Part Two” or do I just get distracted too quick? Ah well…

Lately I’ve been taking a lot of self-portraits, every few weeks I do a session. I find I’m enjoying it, and more importantly, it’s helping me out. It’s my therapy session. I get in front of the camera, and I have to explore where I’m at. No one else matters at that point in time, it’s just me and the camera. Sometimes it’s a bit surprising to see what comes out.

My latest session, a few days ago, I was expecting to be a bit more…down, not depressing, but emotionally exhausted. I had spent Thursday watching, documenting a difficult situation, watching a good person get made to feel bad, really bad, but to get healthy. By the time I left her for the day, I was done, cooked, empty. Don’t get me wrong, if she needed more from me, if the story needed more from me, I would have done it, in a heart beat, but outside of that, I was done.

So on Friday night I decided to take some self-portraits. I needed it. It’s my version of sitting in the psychiatrist’s coach. I wanted to play with the smoke machines I bought back around Halloween, but they never quite worked out, which was okay in the end. The self-portrait is, for me, a very organic process. I go in with an idea, but I never quite come out with what I was expecting, and that’s good. I like letting the situation evolve, I feel that it lets my feelings rise to the top, or it at least gives them the best chance to rise.

In the end the photos were serious, but not morose, like I was expecting. Part of that was the lighting scheme I chose for the evening. Strong highlights don’t lend to depressing imagery, but I’m pretty sure if I wanted to, I could’ve got it there, but I didn’t take it there. And this is why I love the self-portrait, because it helped me realize something, I had been refilled, a little, been picked up. (though I’m a little up in the air as what they are emotionally, maybe just confused, unsure, all over the place, god knows, that would be believable considering life of late.)

After I had left Thursday night, and I was done, I decided to go out. I had actually already planned on going out, but I got out later than planned and I had to ditch on a friend (sorry). Another friend of mine was singing at a local bar and I figured I had to go support her, it was all of a ten minute walk from my home, not to mention, I knew I’d need the pick-me up. So I listened to some good singing, another buddy of mine, Jimbo, The Great and Wonderful Jimmy, (a better friend can’t be asked for in this world. He’s a unique character, in oh so many ways, but he’ll always step up for a friend.) So I hung out, talked to him, which was all kinds of good. Followed that up with an excellent conversation with the singer after the show.

And this is the part that the self-portraits helped me realize, that conversation, it was exactly what I needed at that point in time, and I never knew it. Even afterwards, I didn’t realize for a few days. She thinks we talked and I helped her out and was kind to her, and I hope I was and I hope I could help her, but what was less obvious, was how much it helped me. Maybe I would have come to this realiztion on my own otherwise, but the self-portraits helped me see I wasn’t where I expected myself to be emotionally, and to see the reason.

Personally, I’m a fan of self-portrait sessions for everyone on a regular basis, but I’m biased also. You got a cellphone, why not? If nothing else, who sees it besides you?

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Next time on “Pigs In Spaaaaccceee…..”, oops, I mean next time in the reasoning of self-portraits. The growth of the self-portrait in the new millennium and how it will be seen as a defining art form at the start of the millennium. Also, the internet, how the entire world is now open to us, and yet we can now be so much more self-obsessed at the same time. (yeah, I include myself sadly enough.)


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