Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Self Portrait Project

A few months ago I embarked on a little exercise in self esteem reconstruction that turned into a creative project that continues to challenge and redefine both my sense of myself as a photographer and as a woman. Never one to do things by halves, I decided to reanimate my recently uninspired photography pursuits by not only attempting human portraiture, traditionally my least favorite subject, but using myself as a model, yet another decidedly non-preferred activity, and then render my ejection from my comfort zone complete by doing nude self portraits in which I occupied the place of some of the most iconic female subjects in art. I don’t mess around, people. My last inspiration was the notorious 1949 Marilyn Monroe “red velvet” series.

after Toulouse Lautrec

As if that weren’t enough, I have been posting the results on Facebook for all my friends to see. Because projects like this tend to create their own momentum, constantly establishing limits only to push past them, each new installment in this photographic documentary of one woman’s self exploration through art finds me questioning the elusive borderline between a sexual and an erotic image, self-revelation and self-indulgence, courage and vanity.  

after Hopper

With every shoot, I have been compelled to confront my motives, my aesthetics and my ability to be objective about my unclothed body as subject matter. It’s been a fascinating experience to play the role of both model and artist, jumping between camera and frame and capturing an image that is both natural and intentional. An unexpected discovery has been that when artist and model are the same person, there is far more control in how the nude is presented, an interesting shift considering that the artists behind my source material have so far all been male. 

after Hopper  

I am finding that a female take on a female nude is somewhat different, especially a female take on her own nude self, and the resulting work with essentially the same composition as the original, is not simply an impersonation or tribute but its own creation due to all sorts of subtle choices. I like to think of these images as what those original works would have looked like if the model were given the chisel, brush or camera. 

after Picasso

I expect my choice of source material to inspire future shoots will be even more challenging and quite possibly more revealing. For this reason, I am setting up a PAGE here on my blog to collect the final images from each shoot, but also, from now on, to create a special post documenting the experience and including any good images that did not make the final cut and may not be appropriate for social media. Because face it, not everyone wants to see my tush in their timeline.


  1. Replies
    1. Wow. Humbled by that term. Will try to live up to it even a smidge!

  2. The cat is a nice touch in the first shot. Looked at your Facebook page. Loved seeing the juxtaposition. I stand by my assessment. Genius.

  3. Thanks, Kass! Oh okay, I give in, genus it is. The cat is Henry and I really had no choice in the matter. He saw a quilty silky bedspread on the floor and me lying on it and figured this was a special form of playtime for him. The happy accident of his appearance in some of the shots was a gift!