As a portrait photographer it’s the very building blocks of the image that people show their soul, personality or message to my camera. I ask people to look here, move there, wear this or that, and “yes!” perfect light….. *shutter releases*.
I came in hot to Fine Arts after a decade or more of commercial photography and being in my mid forties. With a brief, goal or deadline fuelling the work I did, it was very easy to forget or not even be aware that as the photographer the balance of power is never equal. After being made aware of the power play, I spent time to acknowledge the balance between subject and photographer more, and my first real self portrait, made me truly connect with the vulnerability a subject feels.
Hanging such personal portraits and the insights into what I hide in the ‘stage play of life’ in public spaces at Ilam sparked all sorts of reactions. One student started to cry when she saw the images and the insight into my struggles. Another who had experienced death recently was overwhelmed with how one of the images looked like I had died. In reflection, it was the first piece of my artwork, where I witnessed people interacting with it on an emotional level, and seeing my struggles with mental health.
Since that first self portrait from 2019 I’ve involved myself in more images than previously. While I’m not very comfortable with others photographing me, I’m still happy to share my own vulnerabilities more. It’s actually quite a liberating experience and a nod to my own imperfections, ageing and how much the human form if not seen as ‘perfect’ is such a taboo narrative. Seeing your own form is a very confrontational process, that every subject experiences on various levels.
This week I put together another self portrait that’s an extension of my first, and it explores the narrative of the war we are currently caught up in- a war of our hearts and minds.
“We laugh at the screens, while being force fed ‘truths’ and ‘stuff’ offered to us by marketing teams and maniacs. Decades in the making. It’s a war of hearts and minds.”
It’s your body and mind – so it’s your choice.