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The portrait has been a significant part of photo history, almost going back to its invention.
After reviewing the basics learned in photo one and two, we start the semester with an exercise using the most convient of all subject matter - yourself.

Your challenge as a photographer is what to photograph and why you photograph.
Self portrait photography can be significant and profound. It can also be a way to create something when you cannot find or think of a better idea. This exercise challenges you to photograph yourself in a way that is both creative and insightful.

After this exercise, you will not use self portraits for the remainder of the semester (with exceptions for exceptional justification).


More than a Selfie

read: Why You Should Be Taking More Self Portraits
read and explore "Insights: Self portraits by women" pdf

Exploration of Sexuality
Incorporation of Natural Forms
Nostalgia & the past
Fears and the unsettling
Conscious & Unconscious Archetypal imagery
Formal visual issues
Dreams and Fantasies
Humor and Satire



To explore the resource material for inspiration, and create a selection of self portraits creatively and insightfully
You should use this project to demonstrate your creativity and your ability to use photographic techniques to show the viewer a visual interpretation of your personality.
You will be evaluated on effort, technical mastery and creativity. 
Experiment with your camera to create self portraits (not selfies)
Think about how your persona changes in different roles and circumstances.



Pick two or more of the categories and create TWO self portraits representing different aspects of your personality or life.

Shoot a lot, experiment. You will need your tripod and use your self timer.

Do not shoot in the studio. Use your own lights and create the space you need.

Fill out the Evaluation Form for each shoot

In some circumstances you can have an assistant press the shutter after you stage the photograph.

Use all the photo tools you have at make visually strong and compelling images.
Depth of Field

Print your two final images for critique

Create a title and Artist Statement for each image

  1. Self-transformation  
    One of the more interesting leitmotifs recurring throughout these works is the fascination with personal transformation. Different identities are continually explored and old roles cxorciscd through the use of masks, costumes, make-up, montage, or combination printing. Many use the self-portrait as an Opportunity to try on new personalities, and then step back to see If they like the new image. Some, like judith Golden, openly express their humor while exploring these possibnlmes; Others, like Cilhan Brown or Pamela Valons, Stare out wnth an obvious seriousness. Significantly, the largest number of pictures submitted fell into this category, reflecting the need to expunge sexual stereotypes and cultural expectations, or perhaps to disguise them.  
  2. Exploration of sexuality
    Direct visual confrontation with one's body is often used to explore personal feelings and attitudes about sexuality. Photographs in this category constituted the second-largest group submitted; this was also the group most uneven in quality. For many. the net of just appearing nude in a photograph seemed an end in itself, an net of almost profligate willfulncss, a misconceivcd icon of freedom. In duplicating or imitating the Cliches of the popular media, were these photographers expressing a basic ambivalence about female sexuality? As art critic Lucy Lippard comments, ‘Because society hasn‘t radically changed for women, what we're seeing is a mixture of what women really want to do and what they think they should do.’ Fresh, innovative images in this area by photographers like Soledad Carrillo Shouts and Rosalind Kimball Moulton are welcome indeed.  
  3. Incorporation of natural forms
    Many photographers use the figure as an element in com positions containing rocks, trees, roots, and water, main~ raining a particular interest in the texture and sensual qualities of these forms. In these pictures, one can sense a desire for a close relation, or even fusion, with natural phenomena: many images achieve an almost ritualistic effect. The near absence of the urban landscape, a prominent theme in much other contemporary photography, is especially striking.  
  4. Nostalgia and the past
    Family snapshots, objects from past history, nostalgic settings, and superimposed images originally separated in time are used in diverse ways: to explore personal roots, to re-examine what did or did not take place, to fantasize about what might have been. For Bernis von zur Muchlcn, the past symbolizes security, a time of less conflict, a way of remembering somconc lost in memory For Hildy Pincus, an empty couch and a portrait oftwo pc0plc produces ‘a sad memory, a loss. an emptiness lcan’r cxplain.‘  

  5. Fears and the unsettling  
    Using startling, macabre. or disquieting images can bc a way ofobjcctifying and confronting (cars. Dc Ann Jennings pictures deal wnth issues which many people might find shocking and distasteful, yet her ideas come not only from her inner psyche but also from media coverage of everyday events. Her photo of a person stitched into a sheet. for example, was inspired by a newspaper article about a wife who stitched her husband in thc bcdshccts to keep him from going out. Jennings calls her images satirical one-act plays, and describes her work as being ‘a little like a car accident - you're kind of afraid to look at it, but you're attracted at the same time.’  
  6. Conscious and' unconscious archetypal imagery  
    A number of the photographers spoke of being overwhelmed by an unconscious image or feeling so strong that they were literally forced to express it. Others, like Mary Beth Edclson, deliberately incorporate archetypal symbols into their work. While Edelson used her early self-portraits to explore her personal identity, her later  
  7. Formal visual issues  
    Using the body or body fragment and relating it to shape, linc, texture, and pattern is historically an important artistic concern. For example, in Ann Mandelbaum's pieturcs her own body is used not as the central focus, but as one integral element of visual exploration.  
  8. Dreams and fantasies  
    Many photographers make direct use of dreams or fantasies to record events that took place only in their minds. Bea Nettles places herself in reconstructed situations in which she says she can fantasize her actual presence ‘mainly because of the believability of the photographic product.‘ Many of my own images derive from a dream that I then relive and crystallize through the photographic image. The picture here was actually taken immediately after a powerful dream I had of walking through a dense fog with a birdcage. I awoke suddenly feeling tense, not able to remember if the cage door was open or closed. Glancing out the wmdow, 1 saw an Incredlbly heavy fog, and with great excitement, I rushed outside picking up a birdcage I had bought six months earlier. This picture emerged effortlessly. Many months later I realized it was a metaphorical equivalent for the internal struggle I was going through at the time about personal freedom.  
  9. Humor and satire  
    Satire, along with unexpected and delightful Hashes of humor, pervades much work in this collection. Photographers who have been working in self-portraiture over time seem more likely to take pictures maintaining a sense of humorous detachment. Perhaps it is experience that brings one to a perception similar to Gertrude Stein’s, written across the bottom of Skyler Rubin Posner’s picture: ‘There ain’t any answer, there ain’t gonna be any answer, there never has been an answer, that’s the answer.’  
  10. It would be impossible to enumerate all the forces which motivate self-portraiture. For some, these images represent emotional counterpoints, for others, a form of visual diary, or documentation of a particular place, event, mood, or time. Sometimes it is as simple as the self being the only available model, the only accessible role. For many, a portrait is a ‘souvenir’ of the precious moment, real or fantasized; for others, it presents an opportunity to penetrate more deeply into human character by examining its primary manifestation, the self. For all, the lens becomes a mirror reflecting both inner vision and outer presence. It records with the same dispassion it reflects. As da Vinci commented, ‘The mirror, above all, the mirror is our best teacher.’