Brief: Drawing upon the examples in Part Three and your own research, you can approach your self-portraits however, you see fit. You may choose to explore your identity or masquerade as someone else or use empty locations or objects to speak of your experiences. However, you choose to approach it, use yourself – directly or indirectly – as subject matter.

Remember to evaluate your work against the assessment criteria listed in the introduction to this course guide and make this available to your tutor .

 

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills

Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

The photographs were shot by myself, using an underwater compact camera, the Olympus Tough TG-6. For most of the images, I used the self-timer with a 10 seconds delay and a sequence of ten shots with 1 or 0,5 seconds interval with full auto setting. The lens set to its widest of 25mm (full-frame 35mm equivalent) the shallow depth of the pool of only 2 meters resulted in relatively close shots of 1 meter on average. The wide-angle was also essential to provide room to manoeuvre to get in the frame at the correct time and with the right pose or motion.

To include the sky and not the pool-floor or tiles, I frequently used the built-in flash while shooting upwards to the surface. The flash compensated the strong backlight of the sun and bright blue sky.
Endless diving, put the camera on the pool floor trigger the self-timer, swim away, get in position and dive, jump, swim, rotate back in the frame at the time of the set sequence, over and over again. I did not use goggles, fins or other diving attributes to minimise distraction.

Quality of Outcome

Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment

In an all-digital assignment, my log, jpegs and accompanying text are the only variations on the outcome. I tried to maximise the quality within the limits given in a cohesive style and non-default weblog, visuals returning in the text file letter type and layout. As suggested to me, I tried to minimise the text and stay within limits on numerous occasions. The use of an underwater compact camera, resulted in JPEG images of lower resolution than usual (12MP max.) however, for the use of this course and the assignment in digital-only form, more than sufficient. Minor postprocessing in Lightroom CC on the JPEGs, mostly to equalise the colours/tones to enhance the series’s cohesion.

Demonstration of Creativity

Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice

As antagonist to the negativism and massive use of attributes or other artificial equipment and processing within the self-portraiture genre, my search and concept quickly went into something positive, not the self-avoiding use of places, masks or substitutes. The pool images are massively trial and error, physically exhausting even. The inclusions of the sky in the pictures were essential to depict freedom and how I experience this while in the water. The use of flash underwater brightens the colour and tones and utilise the perceptive photographic (Burgin, 1988) codes (Bate, 2016) of the sublime, where blue skies and vast white clouds signify the calm, comforting association with heaven and happiness. The absence of goggles or swimming glasses was essential to depict freedom of movement and authenticity or better, non-artificial, being closer to the elements. Burning red eyes caused by the chlorine, made me stop numerous times and continue later or another day even. Funny how swimming naked always feels awkward.

Context

Reflection, research (learning logs)

When it includes the photographer physically and recognisable, self-portraiture seems mostly depending on personal suffering or loss. Maybe that is the ultimate exposure of the self and the most intimate to depict and express to others, but I could not help thinking it was the most apparent en perhaps simplest too. As the newspaper is 90% filled with negative news, so seems self-portraiture.

Turning the pages in the book “Auto Focus” or looking at images from other sources, only very few depict the self in person whenever they were not depicting one’s problems in life. From those observed, only very few can remain positive without shifting to humour or absurdity.

In hindsight, my diary comes close to this at day five: “As an actor in a play and I am the viewer to myself—the viewpoint changes from first, second to the third person”. (van den Berg, 2020)

The experience of authentic or and self confronting portraiture and its purpose to become aware of one’s social position or personal awareness at least returns in the work of Nikki S. Lee and even more in the series “7 Years” by Trish Morrissey. The research, especially in Project Two: Masquerades, is starting to make sense after all: “So yes, curiosity and self-use can be seen as synonyms for voyeurism and exploitation, although not that harsh.” (van den Berg, 2020b)

I ended up between the comforting words by Robert Adams in Art Helps (Adams, 2017) and indeed the liberating experience of self-portraiture, almost as a life therapy explored by Christina Nuñes SPEX (THE SELF-PORTRAIT EXPERIENCE) where the expression of our authentic selves (Selfportrait-experience.com, 2013) truly enriches and empowers our self-image and esteem in a positive and socially aware fashion.

 

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