Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Self-Photography - Introduction and Works #1-3

About ten years ago, I created a new form of art. It’s a combination of photography and self-portraits. It’s self-photography. This artwork is rather self-explanatory. I take pictures of myself.

“Well, that’s rather easy and egotistical,” you might say.

I shall address both issues, starting with the latter. Yes, perhaps there’s an underlying sickness in my obsession of myself. I was single until age 31. Gimme a break.

Now about the former issue. The actual method of self-photography is harder than it looks. The most challenging part is aiming the camera back at me. You see, I don’t use a timer and set the camera on a stool. I actually hold out the camera with one arm and point it back at me. While I strain to keep the camera steady and focused on me, I push the button using that same hand. Usually, I hold the camera with my left hand, because it’s easier to reach the button that way. For most of my pieces, I used an automatic camera with an automatic flash.

Another challenge in self-photography is holding the camera far enough so it takes the picture. If it’s too close, it won’t allow you to take the picture. It has to be about three feet from the object (my head, in this case). That is the most aggravating part. So, depending on how limber I am at the time, I strain and stretch to get the camera just far enough so it will click. This stretching also leads to accidentally shooting with my head out of the camera’s focus. So, I often have “partial” self-photography pictures. These are the more artsy pieces—more avant-garde. (“Hmm,” a critic might think, “He seems to announce his partiality in human spirit with this one. How courageous!”)

My foray into a pioneering art genre began when I was in college—probably one night when I was bored in my dorm room or taking a break from studying. Besides boredom or self-indulgence, there actually was some purpose to my innovative artwork. There were actually two major reasons, to begin with.

First, I did it when I wanted to use up some film. Back in college, I had the old fashioned film canister camera—that was before everyone and their toddler had digital cameras. Often I took a bunch of pictures from an event or trip, and wound up with two exposures left from the roll of film. Rather than waiting for the next big event for pictures (usually two months later), I’d just finish up the film lickety split.

The second purpose of my self-photography origination was much more narcissistic. I did it so I could do a “hair check.” I took pictures all around my head. I wanted to see how my hair looks from all angles. The view from the mirror reflection was too simple. I needed to see more. What does everyone else see? Often, I’d take pictures of my hair before and/or after a haircut. That way, I could see how it looks longish, and how it looks shortish. (Of course, this was before I realized I could just buy a cheap hand mirror and use it in conjunction with a bathroom mirror to view my noggin from the side and back. But I had more important things to worry about as a bachelor, such as the legalities of eating pancakes with Spaghetti-O’s® for brunch.)

So you see, there was (and is) a reason to my madness. Although if I did admit I was crazy, it would make my self-photography art even more cutting edge and revolutionary! (The next Dali—except no funky mustache.)

Sadly, my dabbling in self-photography has taken a sharp decline since I got married. My wife can tell me when it’s time to get a haircut. And we now take pictures together.

Without further ado, please enjoy the pieces selected from my self-photography collection. Each feature will include the approximate date and explanatory commentary.

Check back to see additions to my on-going on-line gallery. I will post one or more at a time whenever I want to see myself from years past with more (or less) hair.

Self-Photograph #1 – January, 1998
This is perhaps my earliest piece of self-photography art. I took this picture to use up the film (and you can tell - that white stripe on the left is part of the picture - the actual edge of the film!).

The time of this photo was right after getting home from my Orange Bowl trip with the University of Nebraska Cornhusker Marching Band ("The Pride of All Nebraska"). The NU football team won the National Championship that year (the “Bowl Alliance” one). They beat Peyton Manning and the Tennessee Volunteers. (Go Big Red!)

I have dubbed this self-photo my “Eyeglass Model Photograph.” Betcha can't tell why.

Self-Photograph #2 – Spring, 1998
Me in my dorm room with Ace. I actually met the REAL Ace Ventura at Walt Disney World-Hollywood Studios in Florida. After posing for a picture with me, he said, "Spank you very much." My reply? "No, Ace. Spank YOU." Comedy gold.

Self-Photograph #3 – Early Summer, 1998
I tried to make a cute little self-photo with me and a kitten after a summer evening of playing basketball. (I rule the hoop at Rural Route 1 Box 24-A.) Unfortunately, this self-photo didn’t quite work out the way I intended. So, I’ll go more introspective on this one:

This self-photograph elucidates a mysterious fractionalization of the human experience in comparison with the innocence of a tiny kitten.
Does that work? (I didn’t think so.)

More Self-Photography Coming Soon!

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