Welcome to the next installment of the Flashback Friday posts! This is a fairly long one, since there is some background information necessary, and lots of images to share. I considered only selecting a few images, but I think sharing nearly the entire series here is important. As mentioned yesterday, self-portraits have long been very significant to me. They have been important in terms of my photography, and have also been hugely valuable for personal reasons.
I began taking self-portraits in November, 2009 as part of a personal 52 week project. Every week of the year (or that was the goal at least) I photographed a new self-portrait. It was intended to challenge me creatively, but was also used as an outlet for what was going on in my life and in my head. My tendency is generally to keep everything bottled up and held in, and so those self-portraits (as well as current ones) were a way for me to get some of those emotions and thoughts out, in a mostly subtle way. It was a strange thing for me to start taking pictures of myself, as before that I hated being in front of the camera. But as the weeks went on, it felt more and more natural, and self-portraits started to become more significant and impactful on my life.
During that 52 week project I essentially fell in love with self-portraits. I have to admit that I feel a bit vain saying that, though the reason I fell in love with them wasn't because I loved seeing myself in photographs. In fact, I always feel quite vulnerable when posting self-portraits, something I don't particularly enjoy. However, self-portraits became nearly essential to my sanity and emotional stability at various points in my life. When I was struggling with something, my instinct was to plan and shoot a self-portrait, and generally speaking it would feel like a small weight was lifted off my shoulders. Seeing a visual for those things I was working through, even if it didn't come across in the photographs to other people, helped me process them and start to make sense of it.
One summer during undergrad I opted to take an independent study with a favorite photography professor of mine. For that class I decided that I wanted to create a series that was much more personal than anything I had done before, and in order to do so I felt it necessary to create a series of self-portraits. That project is perhaps one of the most significant series, at least for personal reasons, that I have completed. The process of working through and developing the concept alone was a process of great self-discovery. When I started the project, visually I knew what I had in mind, and I had a rough idea for the concept behind the series. And yet, as I took the early photographs in the series I began to realize some fears and worries I hadn't even fully admitted to myself yet.
At the end of that summer I ended up with a series of photographs that were compiled into a book. Titled Forward, the series depicts the process of growing up, transitions, and gaining independence. This series seems especially relevant to me now as well, as I try to figure out my next steps after finishing graduate school.
Below you will find a selection of images from the book. Not all images in the book are contained here (there has to be some element of surprise if you order the book!), though these are the main images.