I need to clarify a thing or two before we delve into the depths of this wrinkly ol’ brain of mine. First, as you’re well aware by now from all of my rantings that I am *trying* to live the life I always thought I would. A large part of that, oddly enough, is art. Creating art, specifically. Unfortunately, as you may or may not already know, my brain is such that I shut down completely when my emotions run high, and I have a difficulty, if not an impossibility, of ever translating what is in my mind to paper in any way, whether that be photographically, writing, sketching, painting, and the like. I am not “formally” trained in art making, meaning simply that I did not go to an art school and I did not attend any of my art classes in high school … I know. To be fair, I barely attended ANY of my classes in high school, but here I am, a graduate. Shut up. Moving on, I never learned techniques for getting these things out of my brain. I don’t know if art school could even teach me that. That sounds more like a psychology class than an art class. But I digress, what I mean to say is that I struggle, on a practically daily basis, to create.
Having said all of that in the most lengthy way I could have possibly said it, I decided to work on that this year. How can I grow artistically if I’m not making art, yeah? So, here we are.
I found a weekly challenge for photography, and I hope that I have the gumption to stick to it. I managed to squeak in week 1, so hopefully I don’t blow it. I get frustrated easily, so we shall see…
Week 1: Self Portrait.
It starts off easily enough, yeah? Make a selfie. That’s the next thing I need to clarify. I make selfies ALL. THE. TIME. I have absolutely no issue with making a silly face to my phone and posting that garbage on social media, because it doesn’t mean anything. I see a selfie as a window, really, seeing what my face would look like if we were in the room together right now, having a conversation. I don’t use selfies as self-promotion (unless they are gym selfies as I show the progress I have been making with my fitness goals), I don’t use them to garner attention (I see that A LOT on Instagram), I use them to make a joke, or to show off my makeup concoction for the day, or to show my facial expression in response to outside stimuli. I make selfies on an almost daily basis … mostly out of boredom, as a joke. I am no model, I don’t try to be, I can only show you this goofy face of mine and all the goofy things I can make it do.
Example: the day I got a hair cut.
That being said, a selfie is in no way the same as a self-portrait.
A self-portrait implies that you put some thought in to it. It implies that you have something to say about you, personally, artistically, and only YOU can portray it. I am not holding up a forward-facing camera on my phone and posing so my booty is tooched, I’m not in a bathroom with my feet shoulder width apart so it looks like I have a thigh gap, I’m not pointing my face to the light in just the right way to make myself look good, I’m not using an Insta-filter to correct my skin blemishes, I’m not showing cleavage, there is no witty caption, I’m not looking for “likes” or “double taps”, there is something in my soul that wants to get out and, unlike all the garbage selfies you see on social media, it is REAL…
At least, that is how I approached it.
And I had a HARD time with it.
I dreamed a dream (literally) about exactly what my self-portrait would look like. I loved it. It looked like it was shot at a portrait studio, not in my house on a tripod with a remote cable. I had it in my mind exactly the way I wanted to portray myself to the world, it had a snow overlay so it looked like a dreamy winter landscape with me in my fuzzy winter hat, smiling and happy and precious…
That shit ain’t real.
That shit is selfie-on-social-media shit.
I had to think about it. Do I shoot a portrait of myself? Do I go with the literal approach? What is in my mind right now, at this moment, that would make what I am shooting REAL? Art. Photography. That was the only answer. So my “self-portrait” became a still-life of something, not my face, not even a part of my body, but something that SHOULD be an EXTENTION of my body. My cameras…
Makes sense. But it wasn’t right. The composition sucks, the effort was lacking, all this turned out to be was a photo of my stuff.
So I thought about an eyeball. Eyeballs are pretty important to photography, right? Again, not a self-portrait. But I didn’t want to show my face. My face isn’t me. My face isn’t my “self” if that makes any sense, I would like to think that my “self” runs deeper than that. My brain began to get frantic and panicky. “It’s only week 1 and I am already failing the photo challenge because I can’t translate my thoughts to paper!” and then, “why did I even decide to do this stupid shit!?” and then, “screw it, I’m done! I don’t have an artistic bone in my body and I hate myself!”
So, you see the train of thought that I deal with, which ultimately ends up discouraging me from creating… I am sure I am not alone in this, the difference is that the “real” artists continue to try. Me? I give up. I quit. I fail. I don’t fail in the respect that I produce a crap artwork, I fail in that I don’t produce an artwork at all. This week, I cranked up the ISO and I made something.
So, I submit to you, my NON-failure of a week 1 challenge. I don’t know how much time I will have for the remainder of the week to work on this, and I hate to just one-and-done it, but for the first time in a long time, I didn’t fail. I produced SOMETHING. That may be a small victory, but it is a victory. Not only did I make photos this week, I wrote a blog post, I delved into the depths of my mind MULTIPLE times surrounding this project, and even started toying with the idea of setting up some shoots with some of the kind folks I know to practice some lighting techniques. I love it when my friends offer to help because it reminds me that at least some people support me, even when I don’t support myself.
I feel like any art that needs to be explained to be understood has missed its mark, so I won’t explain it. It may mean absolutely nothing to you, the viewer, but it made sense to me. I think the title of it says what I wanted to portray, but hey, pull from it what you will.
Without further fuss or ado, my week 1 submission: