Something about conceptual self portraits
For a very long time artists have wanted to immortalize many things, including themselves. Painters frequently painted their own reflections, and even sculptors made pieces in their own image. Photographers also participated in this. Many of the pioneers in photography have turned the camera to themselves. And some of them were quite creative with it, even with the limited possibilities they had then (versus what we as technology have now).
Nadar, Revolving Self-Portrait 1865
Today, the self-portrait a.k.a. the selfie, has become a social phenomenon. However artists still use it as a form of expression filled with meaning, rather than mundane everyday occurrence. Since selfies rarely have any artistic purpose, I would like to say a few words about conceptual self-portraits (in photography, of course).
One day you wake up with an idea of doing a conceptual portrait. Or maybe it comes to you while you’re having coffee, or eating your lunch, but nevertheless, it’s there. The next step is to find someone to help you execute the idea. You need to find someone that would aesthetically fit into what you have imagined and who would agree to do it. Sometimes the idea might be bizarre, or the model needn’t look conventionally pretty, so finding someone to play along with you might be tricky. This is one of the scenarios which results in conceptual self-portraits. As someone who practices self-portraiture often, the easiest thing for me is to execute an idea all on my own, since I am always available to myself, and, to be honest, I easily communicate ideas to myself. If that does not work out, I turn to other people. Another reason that would favor conceptual self-portraits to just portraits may be the fact that the artist is trying to communicate a message through their own body or face. Yet, I am sure that every photographer has their own reason for taking a conceptual self-portrait. And while the allure of standing in front of the mirror and just snapping one with the camera in your hands (and, yes, most of us, if not all, have done this), there is something special about a self-portrait which in fact has a story. Sometimes with a play of light and shadows, and other times with a prop or two, photographers choose to be a part of their art and that is no easy task.