Earlier this year I took part in a project. Not any old project – it was a Big Project. An attempt to learn about some great photographers by paying homage to them.
I toyed with some ideas, getting so far as to scoping some signage that would be perfect to give quintessential English spin to the Eggleston vibe. I thought hard about the dreamy elegance and style of Bassman, but struggled to find a willing model.
What I didn’t want to do was Cindy Sherman. I already know about self portraits. I already do self-portraits. Why do the same when you can do something different and learn a thing or two in the process?
As time went by and the deadline loomed I began to realise it would have to be the Shermans. I had no model but myself but I soon came up with a suitcase of ideas.
I’ll own up to the fact that I shot digital. But though I prefer to use film, I know that photography is so much more than what kind of box you use to direct the light and what you use to capture it on. So, pixels then.
These photos are imaginary film stills. The first two I came up with in advance but as soon as I started taking the shots more ideas came to me.
These are some of my favourite – the full set is available on Flickr
It was fun to do and even more fun to check out the results from other Utata members on the website.
But what did I learn?
Well, one thing was how surprised people were to see some of the shots. Most of my self-portraits have an element of play acting so I was a little bemused at that. I learned how much fun it was to really go for the play-acting element.
I also learned how different I can look with a few props and a change of attitude.
And most of all I relearned that you don’t even need to step outside your front door to make an interesting photo. So later the same week I took that to heart when I shot my yet another self-portrait for a completely different project.