The Awkwardness of a Self-Portrait

     Those of us who are obsessed with photography eventually succumb to taking a self-portrait. Once you take one, it is very hard to stop, possibly because of some ingrained need to try to see yourself as others do.  The reflection in the mirror seems so dishonest most of the time, and reality is shrouded by shifting feelings concerning identity.  It's not about having an overextended ego, it's more of a curiosity with oneself.
     For me, the urge to turn my camera towards myself stems from two things, the first being the need to photograph a person, and not having a person around other than myself to shoot.  Also, I have to say that I am admittedly shy about working with models.  I have before, but fairly precise planning is often times necessary, and that is just something I am currently not all that interested in.

     The second thing is simply wanting to have a record of myself.  I have taken so many photos of the people around me, yet there are very few of me.  I realize I am the only person I know who always has a camera (actually always at least two) on hand, so it is understandable.

I don't think I have ever taken a self-portrait at this distance away from the camera.
I ran out there, and was surprised I made it before the timer went off.
     Shooting a self-portrait can be very difficult, and those who do it well deserve major high fives.  Flickr has even made a few people famous (at least Internet famous) for taking fabulous self-portraits.  Although I have been attempting to shoot decent self-portraits for several years now, there has only been a small handful that I can honestly say I like.  As for all the rest, I share them because I don't feel the need to always be sharing only my best work. To me, outtakes are an interesting part of a photographer's process, and I always enjoy seeing them.

It would have been a better idea if I had worn something less sporty, like a dress.  This was sheer laziness on my part.  As I was getting ready to leave my house, it did cross my mind that I wasn't wearing a good outfit for pictures.  I talked myself out of changing by briefly convincing myself that me as-is would be more honest, and would therefore make more sense, visually.  I can talk myself in and out of anything, when it comes down to it.  A floaty dress in this wind would have produced a nicer picture.  Also, a different posture would have helped.

     Perfection is never my goal or main concern with portraiture.  I am much more inclined to try and capture personality and mood, if I can.  I happen to love those shots where a person is caught in mid-blink.  That half-second of vulnerability is very appealing to me.  The facial expression around the eyes is completely charming in it's misrepresentation, making the person seem inordinately precious and out-of character.

I quite like the position and size of my body within this frame, but like I said in the previous caption, a more appropriate clothing style would have made something I could have been proud of.  This film's tones lend so much to a picture atmospherically.  It really is a shame not to take advantage.  Regardless of the turnout, I still had fun going out to the desert by myself for a Polaroid adventure.
     I took these with my Polaroid 340, Polaroid 100 Chocolate Paul Giambarba (expired) film, and Polaroid self-timer #192. I drove to the outskirts of town with a step ladder in my trunk to use as a tripod.  It's hit-or-miss with a Polaroid self-portrait. I'm not at all happy with any of these, but at least I know what to do better for next time.


  1. I think these images are great, for the reasons you highlight. The show you at a stage, in a moment, as you are. They don't try to show you in the best frame of reference or the best situation. The use of polaroid, being your favourite medium is wonderful. It adds such an atmosphere to these images that I feel they are almost timeless.

    I agree, a flouncy dress would have been wonderful! You could have played with the way it blew in the wind, the way it flew if you were twirling, you could have done some very cool things with your hair to add to the timelessness or to the nostalgic feel. Almost anything.

    That said, your "sporty" outfit works wonderfully too. And I am glad you have chosen it. Especially because it's so natural. And besides, it's a great deal sexier than you might think! ;)

    Now, I have to comment on the images specifically. I *love* the first one - that you ran out so far is amazing! No one ever does selfies like this. No one ever gets so far away you can hardly tell who they are. This really takes all sense of vanity out of the equation.

    Your posture in the second image is very good - it suggests a vulnerability. You are tentative, unsure of what you are doing. It shows a moment captured that was not planned. As you suggest, people are often hung up on getting just the right pose, just the right facial expression - this is neither and it's perfect because of that.

    The third image - I love it. I want to stand there beside you and wait too. You are waiting. You are wondering when, if, that shutter will release and I love the waiting. Like I said, I want to wait too. I am waiting with you. I feel a connection to you because of this wait. It feels like I (the viewer) am included in your story.


  2. I think these are all gorgeous. I love how it even appears someone else is capturing you unaware.

  3. your blog is wonderful! i am really enjoying looking through all of your photos. :]

  4. Hi Larry, thank you so much for your comment! I enjoyed reading it, and so glad you visited me here. :)

    Oh Celina! Thank you so very much! xo

    Hi, Kristin, so happy to meet you. Thank you for such a nice comment!