My Favorite Self-Portrait

The Malady of Elegance
“College was very confusing times” – Forrest Gump

 In my time with photography I’ve taken a lot of photographs of myself. There’s many reasons for doing this, experimenting with a new process, setting up for a shoot, but mostly for the purpose of self-evaluation. The portrait above is perhaps my favorite photograph of myself.

I took this photograph last year in October around this same time. I had just stayed at my college dorm for all of September and came home for the first weekend in October. I’m writing this post almost exactly one year later, doing the same thing, coming home and collecting myself after the first month of the fall semester.

This photograph marks a very important transition in my life. While it marks my movement from high school to college, it also captures everything I was feeling at the time. I quoted Forrest Gump in the caption because I felt very confused and out of place at college. It was the hardest transition I’ve had to make. By senior year of HS I felt very close with everyone in my class, I was known and respected and my freshman year of college put me back on the bottom. Nobody knows you, you don’t know anybody, you are alone.

As an artist I was struggling because before college I was taking pictures almost everyday. It was difficult to spend so much time away from photography but it ultimately ended up being a good thing. By October, I was able to take a step back and reevaluate all the work I had done. I had time to learn about new techniques and start to do all the things an artist does to change their work and take it in a new direction. This is where I got the idea for the double exposure look in this photograph.

Fast forward to this past week in my photography II class. We were discussing photography and its ability to capture part of a person. However, every person has many different sides and emotions to them that cannot be captured with one photograph. For instance, on a given day, I might be really happy and silly, thus all the pictures taken capture that aspect of me. What if I had felt differently? Those photographs would be completely different, but it would still be me, just a different aspect of me.

This self-portrait I captures my artistic side most accurately through the expression on my face, to what I’m wearing, to the double exposure with the leaves. While I’m not super serious looking all the time, I do get very focused on photography and this is how I look when I’m really “in the zone” for lack of a better phrase. I love this part of me because I’ve always had that ability to sit down and focus on something. I’m not one to ever just give up on whatever I’m trying to accomplish as long as I’m doing something I’m passionate about.

When I look back on this photograph now I can see how much I’ve changed since it was taken, I age, I am different, but I’m also reminded of the parts of me I want to keep the same. Self-Portraits help me to realize what I want to change about myself and what I want to improve on. Self-Portraits help me refine myself both as an artist and as a person. Self-Portraits are as much a part of art and photography to me as they are a continuous evaluation of my life. Now, I regard myself as being a lot more cerebral, much more of a thinker and ponderer than I used to be. I think that’s important and that’s something I like about myself that I hope I can always be.

This photograph speaks volumes about me and it is the closest thing to time travel that I have. Every time I look at this image I feel exactly how I felt when it was taken. It’s a beautiful thing.


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