The Self and the Portrait and the Selfie

Alongside learning about compositing in Photoshop, we explored the idea of the Selfie. I began my photographic ventures with self-portraiture. My dear friend took beautiful self-portraits in our freshmen year of high school. I took those images to heart and decided to try them out for myself. It was excited to make beautiful, creative images and having myself as a model is simple.

Once reaching Georgia State to study photography, I found myself far more interested in the conceptual ideas behind photography and photographs. I have trouble attaching to concepts because I find fallacies and ethereal ideals in all of the theories that come up; this caused me to steer away from photographing myself as part of my conceptual exploration. However, my digital photography class made it a mandatory assignment.

It began with just the idea of making a bunch of ourselves in a space just to practice the different tools we can use in Photoshop to mask.

Couch Composite

I included the soft concept of how we are so entranced in our four inch screened phones that anything could happen around us.

But then, we were challenged to add a real concept to our self-portraits while honing our newly learned skills. This led me into a spiral of question marks amongst a very a stressful week of group projects.

An inserted idea was the “selfie” and what a self-portrait meant to social media. I didn’t engage in this conversation for my final piece, but I like the conversations on it. I think it’s interesting that people have become to immersed in immortalizing themselves with selfies. The immortalization has become even more convoluted with Throwback Thursdays where past selves are rematerialized as a part of the immortalization of the self.

However, I did not go that route. The week of this assignment was a hard one for me and I took the opportunity of a self-portrait to find some sort of meditative comfort in the chaos.

GordonTeal_Project 3 Composite

Essentially, I see flowers as healing entities and decided to surround myself with them to relax myself. The time consuming, but mindless, process of masking let me be relieved from the tasks of the week. While the masks are not perfect, I lent that to allowing the chaos to ensue. An absolute removal of the chaos would be untrue. The chaos is there, it is translated into something less harmful. This also, of course, plays into my pictorialist and romanticist identity.

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best. -Frida Kahlo


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