In this assignment I have noticed myself wavering from focusing on ways to photograph myself to how people perceive themselves in general and back again. I am aware that my self portraits don’t really show deeper parts of my personality, but how I perceive myself, the meaning of my place in my environment, how I represent myself and in which ways I recognise who I am in what I see. When selecting and editing I did not necessarily have this in mind, but I did notice it when I was deciding on whether to add text or not to the photographs, and what kind of texts they should be. In the different layouts you will see these thoughts changing from text to no text and back to text again.
In selecting my photographs, I have tried to focus on a good balance of subject matter, colour and the use of different techniques. Some pages in the book contain more than one images, to show a concept instead of just one narrative in a single image.
Even though my work is not a narrative in a classical kind of way, in a sense I do find that the total work does have elements of a story. We see the same person from different angles, in different times and in a variety of places. The images together bring add the the notion of the main character, inward feelings as well as outward circumstances. This variety builds up a story, even though it’s open for many different interpretations.
The image on the front page was made with a clip-on macrolens on my iPhone. I was happily surprised with the blurred effect. It is hard to recognize myself in this image, so I thought it would be a good front page, it triggers the viewer to ask questions about the main character.
I want this image to set the tones and atmosphere for the book, even though they are all very different. In the following image I wanted to show myself in the kitchen, which stands for a place and an activity that I find myself in on a very regular basis, even though I don’t feel like that is a conscious decision, it is simply part of the things in life that have to be done. Even though I find cooking itself not the most exciting thing to do, I often come up with new ideas and plans. The monotonous tasks trigger a happy kind of daydreaming and loosing sense of time and place that I wanted to show in this image.
I took even more photos, but these are kind of representative of the different angles that I tried. My final decision was based on the balance of color and the fact that I am small, but still very visible in the image. It almost looks as if I am about to dive in the water, which is a nice reflection of the daydreaming and loosing oneself as I described.
The following images were all taken at night after a rare rain shower. I wanted to focus on the reflection in the water, but ended up liking the ones which show the building and lights most. However, after talking to other students, I realized that the image was too similar to an other one in the book, so I decided to swap it. What I like about the final image is that it has a very locked up feeling to it. The reflection of the bars on the pavement don’t give any space around the subject. I think it can stand for how we can often feel locked up in our own thoughts, character and situations and don’t feel there is a way out of who we are and the situation we’re in, even if we reflect on ourselves and really try to improve or get better.
In the original photo, the reflection was upside down, so I flipped it vertically. Now the person is looking down on the viewer, which gives it a very distancing, arrogant feel. I like this.
I got the idea for this photograph when I parked my car and realised that the lights on the trees would make for a good setting for an image. In order to contrast the green and white light, I decided to wear red and add a bit of a dramatic effect to the scene. The theme of this image is escapism, so I posed in order to look as if I was running away from something.
I chose the one in which I am looking back at the car, because it reflects the moment of escape; when look back and away.
After taking this photograph, I walked towards the house and noticed the pretty light at the back. I experimented a bit more and decided to use my daughter’s mermaid fin as a prop. I read the story ‘The Little Mermaid’ when I was younger and always remember the cost that the mermaid had to pay for her to be human, live in the world and find love. I think that everybody is faced with choices that define who they are and how they live. Almost all choices come with a loss and a price. This photograph represents that moment of choice.
To be honest, I thought of this meaning after taking the photo and reading the story of The Little Mermaid again. In order to point out what I am trying to say, I have added the part of the text that is central to the idea of choices and consequences, how they define who you are and how you live your life.
I took the following image with a small macro lens that I can attach to my phone. I wanted to focus in on my eye, showing what it was seeing while I took the photograph. I took some figuring out to find the right angle, but I was happy with the result.
This photograph was inspired by the concept that our self image is very different from what we actually look like. With taking this image I focus on the tool with which we see, and showing what the eye is actually seeing at the same time. Of course, this image is distorted and very different from what I was seeing at the same time, but I like how the act of seeing is stressed through portraying myself like this.
In the following images I wanted to stress the idea of the ability to change environments. We constantly move around, go from one place to the other and are somehow able to adjust and adapt to all the different circumstances we find ourselves in. It is fascinating that we pass different people with different lives, stories and ideas every day without being of who they are. Living abroad makes me even more aware. Most of the time I have no clue about the lives of the people that I pass every day. In a way this makes me feel isolated and maybe more focused on myself. I wonder if it has changed the way I perceive myself, especially compared to people who have not moved around as much as I have.
As you will see in the different designs I made, I had planned on using all six images on one page in order to show the multitude of scenes one passes while on the move. However, after having showed my work to fellow students, I decided to only use the three with the most striking colors. The idea of mobility still comes across, but the colors contrast much better than with all the images together.
During my night photography adventures, I thought it would be nice to photograph myself and a starry night to emphasize the meaning of life and our place as an individual in time and space. I still think it is a nice idea, but I was not happy with the quality of the images. They take down the overall quality of the book, so I decided to replace it with an other type of photograph, which you can see below. But in order to give you an idea of my thought processes, I will add the contact sheets anyway.
The photo I had originally chosen to add to the book was this one:
However, I think it is not sharp enough and the lighting is a bit oversaturated and grainy. I will try to make a better photograph some time, because I like the concept.
However, with air pollution and full moon, I haven’t had a clear night these days, so it will have to wait till I’m in The Netherlands. Here is the set of images from which I chose a replacement:
This idea was inspired by Escher and Vivian Maier, who have made self portraits in a similar way. I thought about changing the background or setting in which you could see the lamp. but I actually like the contrast between the single item on an empty background and the busy scene that is reflected in the lamp.
To add some variety I took a few self portraits while I was in Nizamuddin, an area in New Delhi that is famous for its small alleys, mosques and perfume shops.
I tried to take a photograph in which my image was sort of immersed in the environment. That’s why I chose the image in which you can see my eyes in between bottles with eyes on it. Again, it focuses on the act of seeing, in this case, strange eyes are looking at me and I am looking at myself.
I am quite intrigued by the idea that what we see is not just an impression of the information that our eyes give to the brain, but that our brain is wired to look at people, and also ourselves in that sense, in a certain way. Even though the images below our quite standard images that people use to show how our brain perceives visual information, I wanted to add them to my assignment to emphasize the multiple ways we perceive ourselves and the perceiving itself.
Concerning the design and captioning of the the pdf file, I have spent a lot of time trying out different styles, combinations of photographs and page sizes. I had never done this before and enjoyed the process quite a bit. I realize that it is helpful to look at a lot of other work to see different options, notice which styles communicate which messages and feelings. I’m not sure if the final layout is communicating exactly what I want, but to be very honest, I am not quite sure about that anyway. The final design is what feels best to me and shows the narrative as complete as possible. Below you will find a few of the 10 different versions with the latest on the bottom.
Now on to the assignment itself and putting the work in context!
Behance.net. (2017). Behance. [online] Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/7616553/Book-Layout-Timothy-Samaras-20-Rules-of-Good-Design [Accessed 31 Mar. 2017].