#Picbod final piece.

There were many ideas that I considered for my physical generative artefact to be displayed in the exhibition. Whilst I considered expanding upon one of my weekly tasks, I also wondered about trying something completely new.


  • Assisted self portrait: As I really enjoyed Task 5 of the assisted self portrait I began to wonder on how I could build on this further. As the girl I worked with, Charlotte, had quite good ideas of what sort of shots she wanted to achieve and was very confident moving around the lamp we were working with, I considered the idea of working in the studio which would give her a lot more scope and experimentation whilst I could assist and offer help accordingly.
  • Body modification: I thought about potentially photographing different people’s tattoos. This would allow me to find what they meant to that person and explore why people modify their bodies in this way. I could have also captured the healing process of the body or the fading on the skin.
  • Swimming: As I have a keen interest in swimming this was another idea that I considered both on location and in the studio. On location I could shoot photos of the movement of the body gliding through the water. In the studio, I had an idea of shooting in the style of Rineke Dijkstra but this meant taking people away from their ‘natural’ surroundings when swimming so it could have made the shots quite uncomfortable. There are also strict rules against photographing in swimming pools which posed a problem for shooting on location.
  • Runners: With the event photography I do, I have a huge amount of photographs of strangers (negotiation task) which gave me the idea of putting together a series of images showing the movement of the body when running. It would also show the connection the camera creates between the runner and the photographer because often people react by pulling faces or doing Mobots. However, I could not go through with this idea as I cannot make my physical artefact with used imagery, it has to be a completely new piece of work.
  • Reflection: As I also really enjoyed the self portrait task and felt I produced quite a strong first response, I thought about developing this further and connected it to the idea of reflection and working with a mirror. I could potentially create a number of images with one expression emotion looking into the mirror, but editing the image so I am doing something different looking back.

In order to decide which idea I wanted to use for my final piece, I weighed up the positives and negatives of each. Although I enjoyed the self portrait and taking it into the studio could be quite interesting I didn’t feel it was good/challenging enough. With body modification the same applied, it could have worked in terms of photographing tattoos and learning about the personality and thoughts of the subject but the idea needed a lot of development. There were restrictions with the swimming idea and I did not know how successful taking it into the studio would be. The idea of photographing runners would have worked well by capturing the connection between a stranger and a photographer simply through the camera however I did not have a race which I could attend in order for me to use as new material for my project. Finally, reflection is the idea which stood out to me the most. There are a lot of messages you can express through this as well as exploring body language and emotion. Although this would involve a bit of post production, I feel I have the necessary skills in order to produce this well.



  • the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.
  • an image; representation; counterpart.
  • a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
  • a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
  • an unfavorable remark or observation.



  • a reflecting surface, originally of polished metal but now usually of glass with a silvery, metallic, oramalgam backing.
  • such a surface set into a frame, attached to a handle, etc., for use in viewing oneself or as anornament.
  • any reflecting surface, as the surface of calm water under certain lighting conditions.
  • Optics. a surface that is either plane, concave, or convex and that reflects rays of light.
  • something that gives a minutely faithful representation, image, or idea of something else: Gershwin’smusic was a mirror of its time.

Artist research.

John Coplans

Self-Portrait (Hands Spread on Knees) 1985 by John Coplans 1920-2003

Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above) 1984 by John Coplans 1920-2003

Self-Portrait (Torso, Front) 1984 by John Coplans 1920-2003

Coplans began exploring self portraiture in 1984 where he photographed his own body. He focuses on many different parts through both close ups and full body shots. He captures the body in a unique way such as wrapped around fingers and uses interesting crops allowing the viewer to visualise differently. Coplan’s work particularly highlights the shape of the body whilst I also like how it captures the different textures. The first image where he is holding his knees works well because we get a sense of age through the straining of his hands on his knees. This is quite different to the second image, where he has his head hidden and makes his back look so bold and different. “By cropping off the head, Coplans presents these depersonalised images of the body as a surprising, intriguing object, fascinating in detail and malleability.” (Tate) In relation to my own response, this could influence experimenting with different shapes of the body through reflection.

Michiel Spijkers

ms2 ms§

Michiel explored self portraiture in an interesting alternate way through the project ‘Nothing of me is original. I’m the combined effort of everything I’ve known.’ He explains the idea behind the project and the message he was trying to explore – “Does the way we’ve been raised by our parents influence on how we experience modern day society, or do our external surroundings such as friends and all types of media have a bigger impact on our behaviour?” He uses this project to show how things have changed as he has grown up and developed as a person. I find this work so interesting because it shows the changes in his fashion, music taste, films ect and I do believe this is heavily influenced by the people we surround ourselves with or what is popular. Even the change from t-shirts at the beginning to smart shirts at the end show his change in maturity. The set up of the shots are all the same with a grey background which doesn’t detract focus away from the item so as viewers we admire it more. With this repetitiveness throughout it creates a sense of unity, so we appreciate the project as a whole and the development over time. Although Spijkers work will not particularly relate to my own project, it is interesting to admire self portraiture in this way. 

Noah Kalina


Kalina begun his ongoing project ‘Everyday’ on January 11 2000 and has taken a photograph of himself everyday since. Being able to see the change over such a long period time is incredible. It explores self portraiture in probably the simplest form but it captures something so unique of the change which we wish we could all see in ourselves. It also teaches you a bit about Kalina and how his sense of style changes over time.

Similar to this is the work of Ahree Lee who also created a video called ‘Me’. She began in November 2001 taking a picture every day. On her website she comments “for me personally, the photos serve as a mirror in which I can examine my own image and possibly see myself as others see me. The act of taking and looking at my own photo is similar to what women do every day when they look into the mirror and assess their own appearance. In our culture we demand that images of women be youthful and attractive, but implicit in this sequence is that over time the woman in the photos will age.” This is something which really stood out to me as it links to the idea for my own project. Through my self portraits I want to explore how we feel we have to conform to the way people should see us such as being happy or attractive and here Lee uses her photos to examine herself and how others see her.

Philip Kirk


Kirk captures something unique and moving through his images – emotion and pain. Through this one photograph we can see they have been injured but their body language shows they are proud to show it and the modifications to their body. It allows us to make a connection with the photograph wondering what may have happened to them and how they got hurt therefore initiating emotion. It is almost as if we can see the hurt through his facial expression also. The shot set up is quite simple but the solid black background works effectively to focus us completely on the subject. This work inspires my own project as I want to be able to distinguish a connection through emotion, highlighting how there are 3 people that make a photograph – the photographer, the subject and the audience. In my photos, I will be participating as two of these components so I feel I will be able to make strong images through this idea of creating a connection.

Nikki S. Lee




Nikki S. Lee began ‘Projects’ in 1997 where she would dress herself up to fit in with different social groups and she would then take a snap shot with them. I really admire this work as she is working with others whilst also making great effort to involve herself and become part of the group. Whilst it seems like she may be an intruder, in the series of images she looks accepted and though she should be there – personally I would not be able to single her out from the group if i didn’t know the purpose of the project. All shots are unique with interesting set ups and body language – all contributing to ‘telling a story’ about this particular group. I like how she explores the concept of identity and how we conform to different stereotypes. Although my self portraits will just be of myself, I can use this as inspiration by considering stereotypes and how we are expected to be a certain way.

Jen Davis

windown love_neg 02 001

horizon 007

alaska bathroom 001

Jen Davis has created a really interesting collection of self-portraits which are often quite intimate and she captures moments which we wouldn’t usually see – similar to the idea of the Tribe task which we completed. She photographs a lot of herself and some with her partner. Throughout the series of images she uses lighting well and keeps the composition interesting such as the picture in the mirror which is similar to what I want to create. The second image where she is grabbing her leg also really stands out to me as she is focusing on body image and the photograph suggests insecurities with her body. However contrasting to this there are a number of photos in the collection where she photographs her body which could suggest her careless attitude towards appearance. Body image is something I want to target in my own images and I can use Davis’ work as inspiration as I do think she explores self portraiture well.

Vivian Maier




I previously looked at the work of Vivian Maier when I approached the self portrait task and it incredibly interesting. She produces her self portraits uniquely often through reflection which is key for the work I want to produce. She uses a number of different perspectives which keeps each image original and intriguing. She often has the same facial expression and body language in each photo creating a sense of repetition but she captures herself in different places and situations making each one unique. All images are also shot in black and white so each image holds a great range of tones and contrasts. I may apply this to my own images, as well considering this work for interesting perspectives when I shoot my own images.

Kyle Thompson




“21 year old Kyle Thompson spent the majority of his teen years driven by anxiety, preventing him from involving himself with other people and halting his talent. That was until he realised he could be the subject of his own work.” (Jacksgap) This work immediately caught my attention when I saw Thompson was driven by his problem with anxiety and turned the camera onto himself. In his photographs you can see how he is reaching for an escape and I feel this creates a strong connection with the viewer as he shows his struggle whilst looking for an answer. He uses set ups and lighting so creatively in order to demonstrate this ‘search’ and think each image in the series of these self portraits works well. In a way, this is similar to what I want to achieve because my project will explore in the mirror how we feel we have to conform to how we are expected to be whereas outside the mirror we are just want to be ourselves.

Duane Michals


In 1998, Michals produced the piece Dr. Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty. Although this doesn’t link with self portraiture, it does link into reflection and the use of mirrors which I am intending to do in my own work. The series works really well together creating a sense of unity however the different reflections keep each image unique and explore a range of perspectives. I may consider this when it comes to the presentation of my images in the exhibition. I like how in some of the images the subject is looking in the mirror where she creates a connection whilst others she looks away which gives a sense of detachment from her reflection. The distortion of her reflection also works really well and could reflect the different ways in which we see ourselves. Again, black and white has been used here creating an interesting contrast of tones and I really like how the light from the window has been used here.

Alicia Savage




Savage has created 3 different series of photographs of self portraiture – Destinations, Still Life and Morning Light. The images that she produces are beautifully creative, particularly those from Destinations after she made a decision to begin travelling more. The series includes a number of interesting locations, whilst she works with both light and colour interestingly – they almost have a fairytale like feel to them such as the second image where she is sat in water and her dress floats elegantly upon the surface whilst the light shines upon it. In contrast to this, the third image is dark and eerie whilst the natural light shines through the window pulling her away. Interestingly, she keeps her face hidden in every image and she explains “with my face hidden the girl becomes unidentifiable – allowing others, including myself, to interpret the images, as they will; incorporating their own journeys and experiences.” (Exposure Guide) I feel this is such a unique thing to bring to a photograph as often self portraits involve the viewer being given an insight into a personality whereas with this Savage has allowed you to imagine for yourself creating a special connection between the viewer and the photograph. I think this work is really strong and although it may not particularly relate to the approach I want to take, it’s helpful to see another approach to self portraiture.

Ahn Jun




Ahn Jun pushes herself to her limits for her series of self-portraits, where often she will photograph herself on some of the highest buildings. She comments how “when I am looking at the skyline, I can see it, but I cannot capture it. It is like a fantasy for the future. We think it’s in front of us, but actually it’s not. So I think the present is one very short instant between the future and the past. So basically all of us are living on the edge of something, between life and death and between the ideal and the reality.” (Phaidon) I feel this is a thought provoking message behind the making of her photographs and admire the extreme lengths she goes to in order to achieve this. In the article she also talks about how she sets her camera so it continuously takes images until the memory card is full, capturing her slowly moving closer to the edge. I like the variation of shape within her images; the buildings add hard geometric shape whereas her body is organic alike the difference in textures. This puts more focus on her as the subject and her vulnerability.

10 best photographic self portraits


This article in the Observer suggests the top 10 photographic self portraits to have been taken ranging from the work of Trish Morrissey to Lee Friedlander. In first place is Andy Warhol – an image from a series of self portraits where he captures himself in drag. It is interesting these 10 images which are considered the ‘best’ and the different styles between them all. It explores the different approaches according to the photographer’s style as well as showing the techniques which have changed over the years and how a self portrait has been defined.

self portraits by a 14-year-old photographer


Zev has created an incredible series of self portraits named ‘Little Folk’ where he makes himself tiny in a number of different situations and set ups in order to explore the idea of “the feeling of fragility that we get while in the transition from childhood into life that’s still unknown to us”. I absolutely love this work and to think it was produced by a 14-year-old is outstanding. The creativity of the shots are exciting and engaging whilst they have a magical and fairy-tale feel to them. Whilst he appears miniature in the portraits he may appear vulnerable but often the images are created with warm colours which add a sense of comfort and control in the situation.




Alzheimer’s drug ads


Tom Hussey created a number of images through photographing subjects viewing their younger selves in the mirror as a marketing campaign. This project explores exactly what I want to do with my images – having myself looking into the mirror in one way whilst another is looking back.

Idea development.

Following my research into different photographers, I could begin distinguishing what sort of shots I wanted to create. I began noting down a few ideas as to what I could do.

  • Reflections in the mirror.
  • Mirror will reflect how we feel we should be.
  • Slow shutter speed to create ghost like reflection. Or opacity through Photoshop?
  • Looking into the mirror naturally with no make up, fully made up face looking back.
  • Lack of confidence with regards to body, yet looks confident/proud in the mirror.
  • Reaching out to the mirror.
  • Screaming at mirror, looking normal/calm back.
  • Photoshop reflection of the way I want to look eg. different hair colour, eyes, flawless skin ect.
  • Black and white.


What equipment will I need?

  • Camera.
  • Tripod.
  • Adobe Photoshop CS6.

ContactSheet-001 ContactSheet-002

Post production.

In order for me to create my images, I needed to edit them in Adobe Photoshop CS6 accordingly. I shot my photos so one idea followed after the other so it would be easier to pair the two contrasts together. Firstly I opened up the two images I was working with. I then moved the one image on top of the other on a new layer. To make sure they were lined up properly, I decreased the opacity of the top layer and moved it into the right place so the two images lined up correctly.


Secondly, on the top layer I made a selection around the mirror image. I then inverted this so that it selected the rest of the image apart from the mirror image as this is the one I wanted to keep.


I then deleted my selection so I had my original image making up the rest of the photograph.


Next, I put the image into black and white after looking at the work of Vivian Maier and John Coplans as this highlights the variety of tones and creates interesting contrast.


Finally, I adjusted the shadows & highlights in order to bring out the shadows particularly in the dark clothing. This balanced the image out a lot more.


Final Images.


1 – Through this self portrait, I wanted to explore the idea of how we portray to others we are fine when we are not. People do not truly know the person within until they properly get to know somebody. Often we shadow our true feelings and thoughts for the simple reason of privacy or not to be judged by others. Whilst the subject outside the mirror is distressed, angry and frustrated; the reflection looking back is smiling sweetly reflecting how we do not show our true emotions. The eye line of the subject to the left leads you to look at the subject outside the mirror creating a connection between them although there is detachment as on the right she has her eyes closed. This is similar to that of Kyle Thompson where the viewer of the photograph can distinguish this connection whilst they also sympathise and relate to the situation the girl is in.


2 – In this self portrait, I wanted to convey the message of how we are silenced of our true opinions. The subject reaching out to the mirror shows she is intrigued and searching for the person within. However looking back is a ghost like image demonstrating how by feeling we cannot speak out, the person within us disappears. I tried creating this effect through Photoshop and decreasing the opacity however I did not feel it turned out as I had hoped – if I were to shoot this again I would experiment with a slow shutter speed. It does however contribute to a wider tonal range meaning there are stronger contrasts of dark and light and the visual weight of the image is heavier to the right drawing the eye here first. Something I love about this photo is the way the subject outside the mirror is reaching out to touch it, and the softness of the fingers touching the mirror makes it look as if she is diverging into this reflection

3 – I was quite apprehensive about this self portrait but there was a definite idea I wanted to convey here. Inspired by the work of Jen Davis where she often photographed her body, I wanted to create something with this in mind. There is forever a controversial argument of what makes a perfect body, how we are pressured to be thin or look like models ect. Whilst there are many efforts being made against this such as bringing in curvier mannequins into clothes stores and the Dove Campaign to promote curvier is healthier than skinny and whatever size we are is beautiful – personally I think we will never be able to escape this medium as it has been going on for so long. Not just for women but with men to. Therefore in this photograph, I wanted the subject to be attempting to look at her body in the mirror. However her body language shows her insecurities whilst she hides behind the jumper and averts her gaze. In contrast to this, the reflection is confident and proud demonstrating how we try to conform to how we should portray ourselves and our bodies.


4 – I feel out of the 4 final images I created that this is the strongest, therefore I selected this image to present in the exhibition. In this self portrait I wanted to demonstrate how we feel we have to look a certain way. The subject is looking into the mirror completely natural, with her hair up and no make up on with interesting body language as she cradles her face whilst examining what is looking back. Her reflection is completely different as she is fully made up with her hair done, full face of make up and proud stance. It has interesting contrasts of light and dark making it visually pleasing whilst the textures are soft from the hair, skin and clothes. I feel this image is particularly strong because of the complete contrast  between the two – whilst they are the same people it shows the two different sides and the person within. It also portrays a message which I’m sure many can relate to where we feel we have to conform to the ‘ideal’. However, how do we know if we will ever fit this, or what do we have to do in order to fit in? Why are we under so much pressure to look ‘good’ when we don’t even know what good is?

Artist Statement.

For my physical generative artefact, I decided to get the one image printed size A2 and mount it on foam board. I also wrote an appropriate artist statement to go with it so people have an insight as to what the photograph is about and the message behind it.

The Person Within

Every day we see ourselves. Judge, imagine, dream, criticize. We cannot hide from our reflections and the thoughts that lie within. We cannot see how others see us, but only imagine. Often we struggle with the image of what we should be or what we should hide and how we can conform to the ‘ideal’. What people see on the outside does not necessarily reflect the feelings on the inside. Only when we truly get to know a person do we learn more about them. Through the power of self-portraiture I have explored this medium of how we often hide our true story about our person within.

Digital Artefact.

As part of the module, we were also required to produce a digital artefact of our project. My intial thoughts were to create a photobook however I did not feel I had a sufficient amount of final photographs in order to create this. Therefore I thought of the idea of making a short film of stills – both my final prints but also ones that I shot in order to create my finals. I also added text to create a narrative behind the photographs and portray the message behind the project.


Despite my initial problems with trying to decide on an idea for my physical generative artefact which lead me to fall behind in terms of a suitable schedule, I am pleased with the work that I managed to produce. I feel I made the right decision in continuing the form of self portraiture as you know how far you can push yourself as well as experimenting with ideas you are not necessarily used to or comfortable with. After enjoying the very first task of the module creating a self portrait, I have too enjoyed creating this final piece. Following my research, it has opened my eyes to so many different types of self portraiture and how it allows the photographer to express their thoughts, feelings and messages to others through beautifully unique ways. It has inspired me to potentially take this further beyond the module.

Whilst I am pleased with the outcome of my images, there are a few things which I would have liked to have change if I were able to reshoot. The set up of the mirrors I used worked really well in terms of being able to position myself so I could capture myself both in front of it and in the reflection, however the background was not the best. It would have worked better if the background was plain so that the focus is completely on the subject and it’s reflection. I would love to be able to attempt this shoot again in the studio as it would also give me more scope with interesting lighting. I would also like to experiment with different mirror set ups or possibly try something similar to the work of Vivian Maier where she shoots in a number of different locations and captures her reflection in many day-to-day set ups. Despite this, I am pleased with how my images turned out. Although I could have presented the 4 final images together, I felt the one image alone stood out better from the rest and as a single photo gave a stronger message of how we are trying to conform to the ideal. I think body image is something that will always be a problem despite the efforts being made to detract away from this. As I included in my artist statement, we forever fear being judged by others and what they think of us whilst we continuously criticise ourselves.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed the #Picbod module. It has been extremely stimulating and engaging, with a number of interesting lectures and workshops which got us involved. The weekly tasks have also been great to experiment with along with getting feedback to help us improve our work. The online Google+ community is also great for getting extra feedback outside the classroom and also encouraged me to comment on work when I wouldn’t necessarily do before. Organising an exhibition has definitely been one of the most exciting opportunities since the beginning of the course. I worked as part of the finance team and feel that we worked well together to ensure all raising money and collections ran smoothly. I feel as a whole the class worked really well organising and putting together the exhibition and I’m extremely looking forward to it on 7th March 2014.


Dictionary (1995) Reflection. [Online] Available from <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/reflection?s=t> [28 February 2014]

Dictionary (1995) Mirror. [Online] Available from <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mirror?s=t> [28 February 2014]

Stonard, J. (2000) John Coplans. [Online] Available from <http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/john-coplans-2353> [3 March 2014]

Spijkers, M.(2012) Nothing of me is original. [Online] Available from < http://michielspijkers.com/nothing-of-me-is-original-im-the-combined-effort-of-everything-ive-known/ >[1 March 2014]

Kalina, N (2014) Noah Kalina. [Online] Available from < http://noahkalina.com> [3 March 2014]

Kalina, N (2006) Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years. [Online] Available from < www.youtube.com/embed/6B26asyGKDo> [3 March 2014]

Lee, A. (2009) Me.[Online] Available from < http://ahreelee.com/portfolio/me/> [4 March 2014]

Kirk, P. (2006) Philip Kirk. [Online] Available from < http://www.philipkirk.com/?portfolio=fresh-memories> [5 March 2014]

Tonknonow, L (2014) Nikki S. Lee. [Online] Available from < http://www.tonkonow.com/lee_projects_2.html> [5 March 2014]

Wikipedia (2006) Nikki S. Lee [Online] Available from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikki_S._Lee> [5 March 2014]

Davis, J. (2002) Self Portraits. [Online] Available from < http://jendavisphoto.com/index.php?/work/self-portraits/> [2 March 2014]

Maier, V (2014) Self Portraits [Online] Available from < http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/> [3 March 2014]

Thompson, K (2012) Kyle Thompson [Online] Available from <http://www.kylethompsonphotography.com> [2 March 2014]

Jacksgap (2013) Stunning self portraits turned this photographer pro [Online] Available from < http://jacksgap.com/stunning-self-portraits-changed-guys-life/> [1 March 2014]

Fahey/Klein Gallery (2014) Duane Michals [Online] Available from <http://www.faheykleingallery.com/photographers/michals/personal/michals_pp_frames.htm> [5 March 2014}

Savage, A (2013) Alicia Savage [Online] Available from <http://aliciasavage.com/?page_id=2409> [1 March 2014]

Exposure Guide(2013) Interview with Self Portrait Photographer Alicia Savage [Online] Available from <http://www.exposureguide.com/interviews/interview-with-self-portrait-photographer-alicia-savage/> [3 March 2014]

Jun, A. (2014) Self Portrait [Online] Available from <http://ahnjun.com/section/247497_S_e_l_f_P_o_r_t_r_a_i_t.html> [2 March 2014]

Phaidon (2014) Ahn Jun pushes Self Portraiture to the edge [Online] Available from <http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/articles/2013/november/18/ahn-jun-pushes-self-portraiture-to-the-edge/> [2 March 2014]

Guardian (2013) The 10 best photographic self portraits [Online] Available from <http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/mar/23/10-best-photographic-self-portraits> [1 March 2014]

TwentyTwoWords (2011) Alzheimer’s Drug Ads show old folks seeing their younger selves in the mirror [Online] Available from <http://twentytwowords.com/alzheimers-drug-ads-show-old-folks-seeing-their-younger-selves-in-the-mirror/> [1 March 2014]


~ by victoriasimkissphotography on March 5, 2014.

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