In college, I had an art professor who I’m fairly certain acquired that job for the sole purpose of being in a position to put down other people’s artwork. The only thing I remember from that class is that he once told us you should do a self-portrait at least once a month. I don’t think he ever gave us a reason why, and at the time, I didn’t care much for anything he had to say. However, over time I developed my own reasons for doing so and eventually began to agree with this concept.
How I decided to begin creating self-portraits.
In many cultures, past and present, it is believed that photographs steal your soul. This may sound absurd, but consider this: You have probably heard the expression “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. If light is the mechanism by which our eyes operate, it might be fair to think of souls as being made of pure light and, in fact, many people believe this to be true. Well if our souls are made of light, and photography is the capturing of light, then maybe it’s not so far-fetched to think, at least in some way, that it captures at least some part of our soul.
Translation for those with who lean more towards the concrete than the abstract:
I believe very strongly in living in the now as opposed to dwelling on the past and I believe capturing a moment in such a way only serves to take away from what that moment meant when it was actually happening. Don’t get me wrong, I understand nostalgia, but no matter how much you think back, you’ll never find the exact feeling you felt when it was actually happening.
So what does all this have to do with creating self-portraits?
In this connected world of social media, people want to see you. You’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.. and if you don’t have a photo, you might as well be invisible. So, in an attempt to stay relevant and visible in this inane society, I decided that, as opposed to trying to hold on to something that would never be again, I would turn my photos into a new creation and thus, a new piece of soul that did not previously exist. Maybe, I figure, in some weird, hippy-dippy, abstract way, this helps to free the parts of my soul which would otherwise remain trapped.
Okay, honestly, I’m one of those people that hates having their picture taken. At one point in time, every picture that existed of me involved my middle finger. But I wanted to be cool on Facebook, so I took pictures of myself and messed ’em up in Photoshop.
However, after doing them for a while, I realized there really is some sort of beautiful and soulful self-reflection that arises from viewing yourself as a piece of art.