pretense realized





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2 Comments | Report
vitor PRO+
vitor June 10, 2017
Beautiful portrait !
davidjohnson_0701 March 27, 2018
Very nice!

Same photographer See all

Behind The Lens

This photo was created in the safe space of my room at home, where the morning light comes in. I take many self-portraits here, because of how camera-shy I am. Being in such a familiar space makes me feel more comfortable in front of the lens.
You know that time of day in the morning when the sun has broken the clouds and shines coldly? The light is cool, and the feeling is crisp, no matter what time of year. Most self-portraits are taken at this time. It's early enough for me to think just enough but not too much about the photos I take. Over-thinking photos happens often with me, especially when they are of myself. Mornings fix that problem; they let me think clearly and only just enough.
It isn't direct sunlight, but rather just above the direct sunlight. In the mornings, the light falls on the back wall and the floor of my room, because the roof hangs low. That space just above the direct light is the sweet spot. The eyes light up, the skin evens out, and the hair shines. I take a lot of portraits for people, and after much experimentation, I have found the lighting that I love best. In the shade, but facing the sun. It's almost metaphoric.
I use a Nikon D3000, with a 50mm lens, remote, and a tripod. I will often take 1 or 2 test shots, then take 30 or 40 shots before I look at anything that comes out.
I woke up with a surprising bout of confidence that morning. My hair was a mess, my eyebrows not tweezed for weeks, I hadn't bothered shaving for equally as long, but I woke up that morning with a realization that none of those things mattered. That all these things that make a woman "beautiful," declared by the world of media, didn't matter at all. A body is a body and a face is a face. It matters not if it has blemishes or if it has hair or not--we're all different and the same, that way. I decided then that I would take self-portraits that morning, no matter what I looked like. So I threw some water on my face, set up the camera, tripod, and remote in the window, and began. The resulting images, all black and white, are portraits of that realization. That moment of understanding that all the things we pretend to be and all the people we pretend to look like are pointless if we can't see ourselves for just who we are in the physical world. We are only bodies and faces on the surface. Sometimes, I wish I was blind, so the only thing I could see in others would be their inner person, their inner human. That's what this picture is. My inner human in her realization.
I tend to do very minimal post-processing. I don't have any high-end editing software because I tend to prefer a raw image, something untouched as much as possible. For this image, I used the Photos app on my Macbook Air to increase the contrast and the sharpness, and then very, very slightly lighten the darkest of darks, to give it the look of film, which is how I usually shoot black and white. I had used up the last roll of film I had, though, and it was a spur-of-the-moment shoot, so I settled for digital.
In my camera bag
I'm only semi-professional in the world of photography so I keep things simple. I have my Nikon D3000, a hand-me-down from my sister, with its kit lens, which I use for landscapes. Then I have the 50mm lens, and the 70-300mm zoom lens that I use for photographing mostly wildlife. I have a tripod, but it's quite badly broken and I'll have to replace it soon. Then there's any number of SD cards and my remote--a Promaster. It works well until it gets below 45 degrees, which is when it stops working. For self portraits in the snow, I hold it between two hand-warmers, and I can usually get a couple of shots before it fizzles out.
I recommend using the lighting I described earlier for any kind portrait. It generally just gives the subject a number of desirable attributes that make for a simple yet successful portrait environment. For self portraits, the timing has to be right. Don't force yourself into taking photos of yourself. If you're interested in trying it, don't give up if you don't like your initial shots. You will look awkward. I still do, many times, but it's a way of communication to the world that only you can give. And in my fear and self-consciousness and social anxiety, self portraits helped me realize that my visual self is only a face, and only a body, just like everyone else. That is a comfort to me--that we are all just bodies on the outside, yet each of us is a work of art within.

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