I had been hesitant on the idea of self portraits in photography for a very long time. For the most part, I thought that self portraits were a conceited effort for self promotion. Considering all the possible subjects there are for one to capture, I never thought of myself as a good one to start with. I am average looking, average built, and certainly a typical thirty something woman trying to make the best of her life experience.
A couple of months ago, I was alone at my apartment cleaning up my studio. It's a small room where I keep all my DIY projects that I never finished, along with my photography equipment. I then spotted some peacock feathers that I had bought some time ago, and then suddenly, I had the urge to pick up my camera. The Feather Eye photo is one of my favorite fine art pictures so far in my store, and it turned out to be a self portrait. Talk about irony.
Since then I had been reading on the subject. Contrary to my limited assumptions, self portraits are a very important stage in the life of an artist. We live with ourselves, and understanding our own nature is the first step for understanding anything else.
I can quote and share thousands of artists whose self portraits have turned out to be the cornerstone of their work. Here are some of my favorites...
Vincent van Gogh was an avid self portrait artist. He was a sensitive soul whose last words were "The sadness will last forever". A troubled soul, van Gogh turned out to be one of the most influential figures in the Post-Impressionism art movement.
MoMA in NYC. Frida Kahlo's work is irreverent, unapologetic, and honest. She used painting as a way of escapism, giving us a peak into her mind and soul.
Vivian Maier is probably unknown to most of us, but her work as an amateur street photographer is stupendous. She died in 2009, and after her death her work has come out and is rapidly becoming a favorite. She held a private life as a nanny, always carrying her camera and not sharing her photographs with anyone. It is said that she produced about 100,000 negatives throughout her life, documenting her surrounding wherever she went. Her self portraits are that, intimate and simple. I really like her style, showing that self portraits are as valid as a good street shot.