Two weeks ago I completed a small project called (Vicarious) Self Portrait, a collection of images featuring Yazmin as a model which were intended to explore the concept that a portrait is never truly representative of the subject. This idea comes around due to the process involved in creating and capturing a portrait, in which the selection, edit and presentation of the final images is the responsibility of the artist and not the subject meaning the representation in open to manipulation and misinterpretation.
The images become what the photographer chooses them to be.
As photographers we can select images that seem to reveal a hidden persona but are merely in the moment actions, we can colour grade to create different scenes and feelings through the use of colour or in extreme cases changing locations, times and events.
In the case of a portrait this searching for the ‘true self’ can be rewarding, finding that one frame that captures a glance, moment of doubt or frustration, but these moments are only interpreted by us not understood. This interpretation and freedom to change and manipulate images often means that the final product is far from the subject and actually shows the process of the photographer.
In a way this process if more of a reflection of the photographer and becomes a self portrait but through the vicarious use of a model.
My original series focussed on capturing a model over several hours, working through all the ideas and thoughts the model had, allowing us the freedom to express herself and finally settle in to a set that I felt touched more on my own personality.
To further establish the theme of the series I decided to shoot a small part 2 follow up which I present here.
These images follow along with the framing, tone and poses of the original series to mirror and reflect the set but this time I shot myself to embed the idea of ‘Self Portrait’, although to challenge the concept further I decided to pull the use of the mirror from the original set into this series in the form of a simple tin foil wrap. The idea being that as you the viewer traverse through the images and encounter the mirror you will be able to transition into part 2 through the similarities of the image but also experience the crackling of the crumpled material, showing that these are from a different perspective.
Whilst the Part 2 images take you through a journey of uncovering the photographer, you’ll notice you still don’t get to see the whole image as even when discarded the remnants of the ‘mask’ float past and obscure the subject.
I suppose this alludes back to times when I have had mental health issues, how we can appear one way on the outside and different underneath. How we can eventually tear through to ‘normality’ but there is always a part that remains obscuring the full picture.