Monday, February 11, 2013

Selfies: the ubiquitous self portrait phenomenon

Self, self

The other day on CBC radio there was a discussion about the increasing number of self portraits that people were taking and posting on line: 'selfies' as they are called. I can see that social media, with the need to illustrate one;s life to one’s friends, would lead to this behaviour, although once upon a time that would have seemed the height of self absorption. As I often take my own photo and do not post it on Face-book I listened carefully. Oh, oh, was I being self absorbed?

Much of the time I use myself as a model simply because I am handy and remarkably inexpensive. I can run through a lot of practice sessions with studio lighting, or put myself in landscape, and try out ideas without having to negotiate with another human being. And then sometimes I really do want to put myself within the frame instead of staying behind the camera. I am part of what is going on after all, part of the scene, and to leave myself out would seem artificial.

A couple of times last week I walked with my mini camera and its little tripod or used the screw mount on a hiking pole and set out to use the time delay shutter release to permit me to jump in front of the lens before the photo was taken. I found that there was a different dynamic at play, that placing myself within the frame required that I plan things out, as if I were setting up a stage play with actor, props and backdrop; as though I were making a film with only one frame. Very different from snapping a slice of reality, and 'different' can be difficult to achieve in photography, bathed as we are amid thousands of similar images in the digital age.

No comments: