Today’s (it’s still Friday somewhere) Blogtember prompt is “a self-portrait.”
I have some scattered thoughts about this that I’d love for you guys to weigh in on, like:
1) What’s the difference between ‘selfie’ and ‘self-portrait’? I feel like it would be easy to say it’s a matter of quality, but for me it’s a matter of intent, and it’s not always all that clear. I do a lot of ‘shoot first, label later’ and I’ve got some long-arm shots that I love a lot. In fact, I used one of those for the cover of the poetry book I self-published last year, as well as on these two that didn’t make the cut:
2) How much external intervention is allowed in a self-portrait? If it’s someone else pressing the button on your camera, is it still a self-portrait? I don’t have a tripod or a remote control, so when I shoot self-portraits (or outfit pics, which sometimes amount to the same thing given my ‘shoot first, label later’ ways) and they’re not long-arm, 90% of the time the person holding the camera is my mom. (The other 10% of the time can be divided in: 5% old photos taken by a friend I’m no longer really friends with; 4% taken by my sister, who has the worst attention span for shoots and does not take instructions well; and 1% ‘other.’)
My mom is not a photographer in any sense of the word; she basically goes along with my whims because I won’t shut up if she doesn’t, and while I wish I could be in complete control of each shot, I set the camera up for her and I boss her around the whole time, and I do all the post-processing. I wish she were more confident with the camera, but I know that in large part the whole setup works because she’s not and because she knows how specific I am about aesthetics, so she defers to me completely. My sister, on the other hand, likes to think she’s good at everything. I envy her confidence, but not her delusions.
All that said, I have a hard time calling my self-portraits “self-portraits,” and I think it does have to do with the above definitions in that a) I rarely shoot with an eye towards art, but rather towards “outfit pic” and “product shot,” and b) looking at random photos I’ve taken of other people over the years, I know that I’d take much better pictures of myself if I were in complete control of each shot with a tripod and a remote.
But there are nice ones sometimes.