"Dance like no one is watching,
Sing like no one is listening,
Love like you've never been hurt,
Live like it's Heaven on earth."
Last year I did quite a bit of self-portrait work with Vivienne McMaster and the various e-courses she offers on the subject. I loved the challenge of figuring out best body angle for the camera. I loved figuring out the technical stuff, i.e. focus, depth of field, perspective, post-processing. I loved the confidence I gained in my skills and myself by doing the work.
So many of the self-portraits I took last year I treasure deeply, especially the ones I took with my dog Scout. Although he is no longer with us, I have these precious photos forever.
This year there hasn't even been a hint of self-portrait photography, not that Vivienne hasn't been offering classes, she has, and I have been tempted by a couple of them, but in the end I always said "no", I wasn't ready. That all changed at the end of October when an email from Vivienne popped into my inbox. She was offering a new e-course called Embody - Getting our whole body into the frame. I personally would prefer to have my whole body in the frame, that fits the story of my photography.
I read the email and immediately signed up. The course started November 1st and ran for fifteen days. The perfect amount of time. The course came with daily encouragement emails, a prompt to work on for the day, and a private Flickr group for sharing our work. I love community. But I always feel like a masquerader in these groups, I don't struggle with the body issues that many are working through. But...if I am completely honest with myself, I signed up for the full body self-portrait class because I would rather shoot my whole body, positioned the way I know I can to make it look thinner, than take a close-up of my face. Maybe I do belong in this community after all.
Self-portraiture photography is a lot like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget, so it didn't take me long to get back in the swing of it.
It was interesting once I finished the course to look back and see the progression in myself. I started out wearing the same Patagonia fleece everyday, most often either in hiking pants or yoga pants, which given that I am an active outdoor person is a true reflection of me. I incorporated the daily shot into my normal daily routine. But by Day 4, I picked a location with intention, brought my tripod, used my past experience to get great light and good focus. Then by Day 7, I was setting up scenes and picking outfits. The wardrobe selections continued to ramp up from there, the last day I wore one of my favorite outfits. Once the class was done, I went shopping. I shopped with intention, thinking about how an outfit would look in a self-portrait.
I have been toying with the idea of a 52 week self-portrait challenge for 2017, although I had convinced myself this week that that was a dumb idea. I already had a 52 week photography project I was working on, I didn't need two. Then, of course, the next email arrived. Vivienne is doing a year long self-portrait photography class called Body Peace. I am an epic fail at year long classes. But...self-portraiture photography is the reason this blog began in the first place. What if 2017 was the year that I finally completed a year long class because it was the right year long class...
I guess I will be working on those close-up, face issues in eight 15 day e-courses over the next year, or I will be wearing a Burqa for a whole year. Stay tuned...