Portrait photographers have all had to find a new way of working in the time of social distancing/ isolation/quarantine. Some have taken to “facetime photoshoots”, or socially distanced outdoor shoots, but I have taken it back to my roots of self portraiture.
When I first started taking photos, I worked on a self-assigned project (concept courtesy of Flickr) called the 365 Day Project. It was exactly as it sounds, one picture, every day, for an entire year. As a high school sophomore, I had few responsibilities outside of school and extra curriculars, so finding the time to shoot every single day wasn’t too difficult. The photos were by no means advanced, and more often than not, I found myself often taking photos of myself. I have never been all that interested in still life or landscape photography, and when you’re crankin out a photo a day, it’s not easy to find a model for every photo — so I acted as both photographer and model.
Working without something as simple as a flip-screen, or a remote, let alone something like an app that allows me to control my camera from my phone, I would spend the entire shoot, running from my camera in ten seconds, posing through the rapid fire 10 shots, and then running back to look at the shots and do it all over again. Being both in front of and behind the camera taught me a lot about portraiture and after going through a second year of The 365 Day Project, I had grown a lot as a photographer.
Shooting self portraits in quarantine has required I come up with some “creative” solutions, as I did in the early days. I had to leave my tripod in the city, so I have to find miscellaneous objects to prop my camera up where I want it, often in quite precarious balancing acts. I also only packed one lens, so everything is being shot with my trusty 50mm, even if I’d prefer something else. I don’t have my strobes, so I’ve gotten experimental with using natural light shining through different windows in my house to get some variation in light.
I’m no Cindy Sherman, and none of the photos I’ve shot feel like anything special, (mostly because shooting self portraits seems juvenile and insignificant to what I would prefer to be shooting) but I hope that shooting self portraits has helped me to grow as a photographer once again.