Friday, July 20, 2007

Self-Portrait Friday?

I always marvel at the number of self-portraits in the blogging world: There's "self-portrait Friday" and "self-portrait Monday" and some self-portraits that beg a "not safe for work" warning or "explicit content advisory." Although some critics of the practice may argue that vanity drives this compulsion to turn our digital cameras back at ourselves, for the great majority of self-portraits displayed on blogs, I have to disagree with the conclusion.

These aren't people vamping for the camera, pouting, striking languidly casual poses, and smiling for Annie Liebovitz or Lord Snowdon. They're not shouting, "Look at me - Here I am at my latest book signing/gallery opening/movie premier!" More often than not, they're chronicling their mood, marking a birthday, or simply capturing their evolution as a person. They're scarcely different from the plethora of vintage documentary snapshots that now crowd into "found photo" websites. They tell a story. (The first two photos here were taken from my favorite "found" photo site, "Look at Me.")

Of the myriad blogs I regularly check on, Chronicles of Me by Bohemian Girl has really struck a chord of late with its openness and the quality of self-portraits. She's beautiful in a very natural way, "easy on the eyes" one could say, and I'm particularly captivated by how remarkably different one person can look in so many photos. In that sense, her self-portraits do seem to be about evolution and growth.

To date I haven't been a participant in these self-portrait exercises beyond the obligatory profile photo. Still, I've managed to toss in a few childhood photos that give one a sense of my development over the years . . . from geeky child to geeky teen to geeky adult. One could argue that these photos represent an elegiac exercise in mourning the passage of one's youth. There are certainly days when I feel that way. Nevertheless, I'm starting to think it might be "ok" if I upload the occasional self-portrait. After I'm gone, they'll give my kids additional fodder for laughter in the way they now chuckle over my childhood photos. So consider yourselves forewarned; the occasional self-portrait may find its way into these pages. (For now, here I am on the way to my high school graduation in 1982. Can you believe that patchwork madras jacket?!)

2 comments:

Boho Girl said...

Brian,
I am touched, so very touched by this. I know I really put my self out there and it means a lot that my readers understand what self portraits represent for me in that it is not about vanity but about self expression. It seems you get it and I appreciate that. Hearing your words helps me to feel good about speaking my truth in a raw way. It's been a crazy and beautiful year. So, thank you for your kindness and the truly sweet mention here.

You are a wonderful writer, by the way.

Take gentle care,
Denise

One Wink at a Time said...

Very glad to see that someone else is appreciating the whole "Brianess" thang... ;-)
Also glad to see you're listening to Interpol, one of my favorite bands. LMK how you like this one.
I started to get into some self-portraiting a while ago. I am the least photogenic person on the planet. I got discouraged with it and started to feel a bit, I dunno, self-indulgent doing it. Maybe I'll check out some others. This photo of you Brian, it's great. I loved and still love Madras plaid.