Self-portrait project

April 17, 2011

17TH APRIL 2011
Sun portraits

Today I spent the afternoon lounging around in the park in the glorious sunshine. It was far too heavenly an afternoon and far too ethereal light to go undocumented so I did some self-portraits while I was there, read my book and fell asleep. A lovely end to the week.

12th MARCH 2011
Hat portraits

This week I bought a new hat at the bargain price of £3 from good old Primark. I think hats always photograph really well so I used it as the focus for a new set of self-portraits.

26th FEBRUARY 2011
Mum portraits

Being a mum is the most important thing in my life, and being with Joe brings me unspeakable joy. He is, and always will be, part of me and as such belongs here with me in my self-portraits.

14TH FEBRUARY 2011
Valentine portraits

An antidote to the sickly face of Valentine’s Day – an alternative look at how the day can feel sometimes…. intentionally depressing images but I had loads of fun doing it! Made a fun change from my usual more upbeat stuff.

4th FEBRUARY 2011
Mirror portraits

Having done softer, more intimate close-ups for the last set, tonight I wanted to create much lonelier and emptier images, using more negative space and strong lines. I haven’t got round to painting my bedroom yet so at the moment it’s pretty sparse and white, which, along with the tall mirror and high ceilings, worked really well for what I wanted this time.

16th JANUARY 2011
Slate portraits

While I was away in Cornwall last week with the lovely Emma Case, Debs Ivelja and Joanna Brown, we stopped off to climb a gorgeous hill with an old slate mine in it. I absolutely loved the colour and texture of the slate, and wanted to use this in some photographs. Joanna, Debs and Emma were further down the hill taking some pictures in some ferns so I decided to grab some self portraits lying down with the beautiful slate in the background. It was really peaceful up there, lying down on the side of the hill, gazing out to sea, a really refreshing and memorable moment. A bit of a landmark for me too, my first self portrait looking straight at the camera without hiding behind anything (except that determined bit of stray hair that wouldn’t behave!)

10th JANUARY 2011
Bath portraits

I woke up this morning feeling absolutely vile, my throat hurt, my head hurt and I felt really weak and pathetic, so I decided I needed a nice hot bath to melt away the aches and pains. I felt a bit guilty having a soak in the bath in the middle of the morning when I had lots of work to do, so I made myself feel better about it by doing some pictures for my self-portrait project! I’ve just had the bathroom re-tiled and had been thinking that the lines would work well as a background so it all sort of fell into place.

9TH JANUARY 2011
Window portrait

Messing around with subtle light sources in a darkened room last night for yesterday’s 365 project image of Chris on the sofa gave me the idea for today’s self-portrait.

5TH JANUARY 2011
Leopard Print Portraits

Image 1: The Pout

Image 2: The Hair Moustache

Image 3: The Growl (or as my friend Nick put it, “You look like a deranged ’60s Warhol starlet who’s just discovered highballs, purple hearts and Photobooth”)

Image 4: The Yank (to try to inject a bit more genuine expression into the shoot I yanked my ponytail as hard as I could just before the shutter fired. Yes it did hurt and no I’m not sure why I thought to do that)

The morning after my first session I was a bit disappointed as I looked back at the first two photos and thought they were a bit… well… crap to be honest with you! The second one is just a total cop out and the first one, although it did sum me up perfectly that evening, I just thought was very feeble. The whole point of this project was supposed to be to push myself and try new things, and what the hell is new about me (yet again) hiding away when a camera’s pointed at me? I do this all the bloody time! I’ve never been one to do things gently gently, I’m a bit of an all or nothing kinda girl, and I just thought, right, if I’m going to try to do this, I’m going to just go for it. I need to stop pussyfooting around the camera and being so serious about it all, and just have some fun. It’s only a piece of glass and plastic for god’s sake… and if I don’t like them then I don’t have to use them, no harm in just getting stuck in. So I decided to do another shoot last night. Chris was out at work so I felt pretty liberated to make as much of an arse of myself as I wanted as there was no-one there to watch me doing it (he would argue that him being there doesn’t usually stop me but nevertheless…) I wanted this shoot to be really bold, daft, bright and fun, as this reflects the real me as I am in everyday life, rather than the awkward, nervous Anna that usually seems to appear when I know I’m having my photo taken. As my friends will corroborate, I’m never far away from red lipstick or something with a leopard print so I figured these were the perfect things to use. I hung my leopard print coat up behind me on the wardrobe, grabbed my £2-from-a-market leopard print shades, slapped on my favourite red lipstick and basically just kept pressing the shutter and pulling ridiculous faces. No deep and meaningful slant or technical merit to this at all, and some might say (myself included) that I’m still hiding behind some sunglasses, but for me this was a huge breakthrough: I had loads of fun on my own in front of the camera and really liked the results. Yes I did feel like a complete pillock while I was doing it but after a few minutes I really stopped caring.

So there we are, the results of session 2. They gave me the confidence to commit to a proper self-portrait project, where I’ll definitely post at least one new self-portrait each week. I’ll post session 3 in the next few days as per my self-inflicted rules. And after seeing myself in image 3, I’m not about to argue with myself.

4TH JANUARY 2011
First Attempt

This first one is ridiculously unpolished – my first attempt at a self-portrait, shot a couple of nights ago in my living room with no make-up, straggly hair and a total lack of confidence in my ability to shoot myself. I was really unnerved by how much I wanted to hide behind my hands and look away from the camera. But I thought that although in terms of technical merit it’s very shaky, I thought it perfectly summed up me as I was doing this for the first time – out of my comfort zone, raw and very rough around the edges! To ease the blow (I know I’m a wimp) I added a bonus one to start the year which is simply me (hiding) behind my current favourite 35mm lens.

INTRO

I started doing this as a bit of a tentative off-shoot of the 365 project I’m doing this year, initially intending it to be supplementary to this, adding just one self-portrait each month of the year. However, I decided today to bite the bullet, separate them and do a proper standalone self-portrait project, adding at least one new image a week. As I explained in the 365 project post, self-portraits are something that are both completely new to me and also very uncomfortable for me. The 365 project is definitely challenging for me in terms of finding the time and the creative juice to get ideas for a new picture each day, but it’s all very enjoyable and familiar, taking pictures of ‘other things’. I wanted to throw myself into the self-portrait project properly as this is something that is completely unfamiliar, something I have no idea whether I’m good at, and which makes me feel very nervous, particularly about publicly sharing the results. I’m very unused to being on the other side of the camera, I have never been photographed professionally (we didn’t even have a wedding photographer… yes I know…!) and even in social situations, although I’m a really outgoing person, there’s nothing more guaranteed to make me shrink and hide than pointing a camera in my direction.

23 Comments

  1. Kirsten

    The bath pictures are phenomenal, Anna. Really love them.

    Reply
  2. Sadie

    Anna your pics are just getting better and better wished I looked this good on the bath when feeling ill!!!

    Reply
  3. Dasha

    I heart these! So creative!

    Reply
  4. xanthe

    Just found your blog, your work is amazing and your self portrait project is off to a flying start. Stunning bath series! Hope you feel better X.

    Reply
  5. Debs

    wow. wow wow wow. These are awesome!!

    Reply
  6. Nick Tucker Photography

    Love the bath photos. I’d try this myself, but I don’t have a photogenic bathroom. Or a photogenic face.

    Reply
  7. Mary McQuillan

    Fab, fab, fab, fab, fab. Fab!

    Reply
  8. Jane is a Gypsy

    Insanely beautiful and eerie all at the same time. LOVE!

    Reply
  9. Kirsten Mavric

    LOVE the slate ones. You are so pretty, Anna.

    Reply
  10. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

    Wonderful images, the first one in session 5 is stunning, love the eyes in it.

    Reply
  11. Xanthe

    gorgeous you in this slate series, your eyes are stunning! What a cool background x.

    Reply
  12. Michael

    Wow, Beautiful photos and great to see fellow photographers inspired by the natural beauty of Cornwall.

    Reply
  13. Kirsten

    Love them, Anna. Are the lines above your head the edges of a tall mirror?

    Reply
  14. Anna

    Thanks Kirsten! Yes I used the tall mirror in my bedroom – it’s got a wooden frame which is the lines going upwards. The other bits and bobs are some necklaces hanging on the mirror.

    Reply
  15. Laura Sheppard

    I love No. 5 of the Valentine’s Day portraits, very cinematic!

    Reply
  16. xanthe

    Beautiful. The mother/son bond is super special and should be celebrated. X.

    Reply
  17. Kierstin

    gorgeous! glad you decided to post them. You inspire me!

    Reply
  18. Kirsten Mavric

    These are so special. Having only become a mum myself 17 months ago, I do understand how you feel. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes.

    Reply
  19. Jo Hastings

    Cool hat! These are my favourite self portraits so far, you look stunning.

    Reply
  20. Anna Clarke

    Dear Anna,
    Please can you stop being so gorgeous and talented? You are making the rest of us look bad!! 🙂 Flippin lovely pics you beautiful lady!
    Love Anna xx

    Reply
  21. sam nash

    Anna – youre a genious. I found your blog as a result of a mutual friend Melissa Love. I could only dream of taking and having such a amazing self portrait pictures. Absolutely stunning and I love the dicersity. well done you!

    Reply
  22. Charlotte

    Hi Anna, these pictures are amazing 🙂 You took some photos of my brother, sister and I in Digbeth, Bham a couple of years ago, so I thought I’d check out your other work! I got a camera for my 18th birthday, but my arms are seemingly too short for self portraits, I think I’d better start saving up for a tripod or something…Will definitely be following your blog from now on x

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » February 2011: 365 project - [...] Tonight I took a series of self-portraits… [...]
  2. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » March 2011: 365 project - [...] My new hat inspired me to do some self-portraits today – see these here [...]
  3. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » April 2011: 365 project - [...] for a well earned rest in the sun with my book. Struggling to lounge around guilt-free I did some…
  4. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » 365 project complete! My personal year in pictures… - [...] a photograph a day, of absolutely anything, every day for the whole year. I did also start a self-portrait…
  5. Anna Hardy » Blog Archive » Portrait 365 project - [...] I wanted to do self-portraits to make up for my earlier abandonment of my first self-portrait project. But what…

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