Why Self Portraiture?


“A self-portrait is a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist.”

On Tuesday I had my first tutorial with a tutor that I have yet to really have during my time at university. I went in with a vague idea of what I wanted to do this year, though I hadn’t firmly set a project brief for myself. As far as I was concerned I was experimenting/toying with a number of possibilities.

I knew that I wanted to take self-portraits again, pushing myself further with them, taking more time to plan, execute & edit. I showed him some images I took over the summer as well as examples of my work from last year. I was feeling quite confident when he turned round and asked me, “why?”

I had never really put much thought into why I take self-portraits, I’d always looked at it as a convenience – I am always available, I know what I’m aiming for, etc. But these reasons were not what he was looking for, he didn’t want processes.

At one point he asked if it was an ego thing, a sort of want for recognition and celebrity status. This I found to be quite offensive. It was almost as though that’s how he feels I work as a photographer, and as I said at the start, this was my first time dealing with him – not the first impression I was hoping for.

I must admit, quite often I just have an idea, an image in my head of something I would like to create. I can honestly say that occasionally the meaning may come after. I respect his feedback, and the fact that he has really made me think about myself as a self-portrait photographer, but does there really need to be a deep meaning to EVERY photograph I ever take? Sometimes I just “liked” the light, or had a prop I wanted to use. Maybe the location was something different, or I just had that urge to take a photograph.

I am still going to continue taking self-portraits as and when I like, how I like, but I will also be pushing myself to look deeper inside myself, to find those images full of meaning; images that reflect my stories, my passions, my feelings. Watch this space!

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