Experiments in Self Portraiture: Space and Focus
This set had no real theme until I reviewed the images. When shooting I used the same method, one I feel I may have exhausted by now, as I had previously; setting the camera down on the ground and pointing it up towards me, and clicked away.
Besides the hand-in-front-of-the-camera style pose I’d seen a handful of times (heh) on Pinterest, that I wanted to try my hand at (heh), I had zero plans for this shoot… Instead I set about experimenting. Mixing up the focal lengths, sometimes I would hold the camera so close to my face that the auto-focus couldn’t quite register me, and, at other times, I’d move far enough away that I could fit my upper body and a hint of my knee in shot.
Many years ago, when I started taking photos, I would have deemed those where the subject was mainly out of focus fit for the cutting room floor. Now, especially as I become more creative, I see focus as simply another tool in a photographer’s arsenal. It leads the eye to a specific spot, and poses questions. Specifically ‘What does focusing on a specific spot, instead of the whole subject, say?’ or ‘Why do you think the photographer chose to focus the image on the area they did?’ and ‘What could it mean?’
I found the closer shots understandably more intimate, yet almost intrusive. Whereas the shots from a distance to have some sort of a disconnect. When I am close to the camera, filling the frame, it feels as though I am encroaching on the spectator’s space, whereas the further away I am, it feels like the viewer of the image is entering my personal space. Almost like they have stumbled across me. I find the differing sense of power behind these really interesting.
I also really like how contemplative they feel. I read Call Me By My Name as part of Bee’s wonderful book club earlier this year, and think the nature of the book has fed into these images. For me they encompass summer holiday, daydreaming, picnic by the water vibes. If the combination of these photographs were the opening shot of a movie, I can see the camera panning to reveal a beach, holiday home, or a coastline in a quiet seaside town - swiftly followed by a montage of me reading books, skimming stones, and rehashing teenage dramas.
This set has become an accidental study in space and focus. It’s made me realise how much I love both cluttered photos and shots where the subject is surrounded by a lot of blankness. I’m excited to continue to see how these can be toyed around with, to create meaning and unique imagery.