'self' and 'identity'... possible to portray in a photograph ?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by laughingstar, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. laughingstar

    laughingstar TPF Noob!

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    I am interested in the notions of ‘self’ and ‘identity’ represented through the photographic image, in particular in relation to ‘self-portraits’, and the many forms this can take. I would be keen to know people’s thoughts on this topic. Here are few questions to get you thinking…

    Why do we photograph ourselves ? How does photographing ourselves make us feel ? How much do we feel our identity is portrayed through a photograph ? What is our ‘identity’ even ? Is there ever really a true ‘self’ in a photograph ?...

    (These kinds of questions are endless, so please do make more suggestions… and some kind of answers if you can !…)
     
  2. Do'Urden's Eyes

    Do'Urden's Eyes TPF Noob!

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    Yeah these types of questions are extremely open ended and pertain more to philosophy than to photography. Why do i take a self portrait... well the first times i did it, it was to make avatars for my profiles. Now Im trying to venture in to it more because i want a start in portraits and i figured id start with some one who knows exactly what im going for in pictures. Its also very good for the soul i think to try and explore ideas for visually representing who you are and what youre about, with out being too cheesey about it.

    I take pictures some times just because i look so damn good both behind and infront of a lens.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't. For me photography involves me being on the other side of the lens.

    Not being very narcissistic, I do not feel that I am very photogenic in the first place and it stirs no great emotions in me. When it does, it is usually more negative than positive.

    I do not think something as complex as an identity can be captured in a single photograph. Aspects of it perhaps, but not much more.

    We define identity partially as "the condition of being oneself or itself". As a person, I would like to think that I am hopefully more complex than what a single photograph could capture.


    Photographs are captures of instants in time. Identity is much deeper and more complex than one simple aspect of something as complex as a human being. Though you can capture the likeness of someone in a picture or a single aspect of one's identity, you can NEVER capture the essence of what makes that person THEM in a single picture.

    To prove this, take the picture of a complete stranger and show it to someone that doesn't know the person in the picture. What MEANINGFUL things concerning the person's identity can be said by a person looking at this picture?

    Very little, I am afraid. One may be able to tell living conditions or a political affiliation or a particular like or dislike... but the IDENTITY of that person... what makes them the unique individual that they are in a complex manner... this extremely dynamic flowing human being's essence is impossible to capture in something as static as one single picture.

    Where pictures do their best... is when they REMIND us of the identity of someone, that is where their greatest strength lies. WHen we know or knew the person in the photo... then does it stir within us the memories of the person we are looking at... but even then it is just that part of the identity that this person let us see of themselves, and not likely their true self. We see that level of truth within ourselves during brief moments of personal illumination... this is something that no camera can capture.
     
  4. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ...
    I shoot my self to show off my stuff :D


    Makes me feel like I have a place amung photographers

    Well, yeah, I'm a guy with a camera stuck to my forhead.

    See above

    I suppose, it all depends on the photo really.

    Can you tell who I am from these?
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v371/battousaiofnphiles/Photos/100_3602.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v371/battousaiofnphiles/Photos/100_2671_2.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v...otos/Snaps and bloopers/100_3002Converted.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v371/battousaiofnphiles/Photos/722925_015_2.jpg
     
  5. Room for a lot of flip quasi-funny answers here. One obvious answer is that we photograph ourselves for the same reason we photograph anything else - because we are trying to document or creatively interact with the subject. Why we should choose to creatively interact with anything is life-long conversation.
    I find the opposite to be true - photographing myself allows me to disconnect from myself, and objectify myself for a while - by treating myself the same way I treat any other subject places me outside of myself - or to only interact with myself in a limited environment. This processes changes in the second part of image-making: the print. I become more attuned to my insecurities. How do I feel about my eyes? The double chin? The yellowing teeth? How do I see myself in the mirror? How does it differ from the image, and how do other see me?
    It's a creative choice, so it reflects us very much - but in ways that may be hard to see for outsiders. They are unaware of the creative choices that were considered and discarded in the decision process.
    Well, 3,000 years of philosophy shouldn't be regurgitated here. Suffice it to say that there is a delta between what you consider your identity, and what others perceive it to be.
    Yes, if the photo is made by you, and it is a self-portrait, and you display it to the world as such, then it contains an aweful lot of true self. Even if it is an accidental snap of you that you like, the fact that you like it and are willing to show it to others means that it somehow captured something of you.

    An interesting challenge would be: create a self-portrait that shows a bad side of your personality, in an unflattering way, but still captures you.
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Definately! You're a guy that wears a hat and has a reeeeeeeeeely small tripod... lol
     
  7. Chiller

    Chiller Mental case

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    I have had a few situations, but not always, where others have taken a photo of me and for some reason my image does not appear in the photograph.....sooooo..every now and then, I shoot myself, to make sure Im still there. :lol::lol::lol:
     
  8. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

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    With respect...these are pictures of you. They do not tell me who you are.
    As someone has already said...it is a rare thing to achieve.
    I would add, it is also a wonderful thing...but could also be terrible.

    An example: I once photographed a woman during a conversation. She was a little bit older...plenty of wrinkles, perhaps "past the prime of her youthful beauty". Studying the proof sheets I was a bit surprised by the intensity of one of the images. I quickly printed it and showed it to her as soon as possible because of this "je ne sais quoi" effect.
    She reacted in a way which surprised me...made me a little nervous perhaps, but taught me something. She was silent, began to cry, and said "NEVER EVER show this to anyone...I feel like you cut a hole into my soul and everyone will be able to see everything I am". I think I understand what she meant...I´ve seen something similar once or twice since then.

    If you are seriously interested in this topic I would recommend readying "Camera Lucida" by Roland Barthes
     
  9. Aye-non Oh-non Imus

    Aye-non Oh-non Imus TPF Noob!

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    With quite a bit of agreement, those links only depict you within your hobby. While those images may tell a tale, to some degree, it cetainly leaves a void for the personna of Battou. #2 link is a good candidate though. There is a tinge of personallity.
     
  10. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I think self portraits are mandatory in a photographers journey. Doubt you could do it in one photo so feel free to take your time. Definitely avoid photos of you behind the camera. The idea is to explore your relationship with the media. How are you going to photograph someone else when you you have not figured it out for yourself?

    Love & Bass
     
  11. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Gentlemen, gentlemen, You missed the very first segment of the post and then subsiquently took the post in the wrong context
    I am a camera collector and photographer, it is rare to see me with out one of my cameras either at my side or stuck to my face. My hobbies are a big part of who I am...but that is irrelevant as I am merely taking these pictures for the afore mentioned purpose. I am not particularly interested in self portraiture and the photographic representation of me, regardless of how it may appear. So I ask that we please not allow my rethorical question to derail this thread.
     

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