Communicating is crucial, yet a constant struggle for me. I possess a reflective view of the world and my place in it and my art (when I find time to create it) focuses on deconstructing and reconstructing that view. I aim to capture the details that are often overlooked. In my landscape work, I utilize color, contrast, and texture in order to create a mood or atmosphere incongruous to otherwise familiar places and objects. In my creative portrait work, I aim to unveil the hidden essence of a person – parts of the persona that often lie just below the surface.
I have done quite a few self-portraits in the past 5 years. And while I haven’t done any in well over a year, I began to question about why I, like so many other photographers, dwell on the subject of self. Is it because when an idea strikes there are no models handy? Is there a deeper reason? Or are we just narcissistic?
Honestly, I believe it to be a little bit of all that. Sometimes I am struck by inspiration at an odd time during the night or day, and I just *have* to work on that idea. If I am the only one around – then viola – I am not only the photographer but the subject. But more times than not, the reason I put myself as the subject is that there is usually some sort of emotion stewing close to the surface. Not being fantastic at always expressing my emotions through speech, I sometimes choose to use a visual medium – photos.
Sometimes the messages are obscure – maybe I will be the only person to really understand the meaning – or maybe they are more obvious. Or perhaps, people walk away with a completely different, yet no less accurate, assessment. Because everyone walks through life with different experiences – their own set of bumps and bruises, laughter and smiles – it doesn’t necessarily have to be the message or emotion I was feeling when I created it. Isn’t the essence of art to not only leave the viewer with something to dwell upon but to also forge an emotional connection?
In my world, I am an empathetic observer. I see varying and unending shades of gray. I feel deeply about issues surrounding me – whether they are personal or more about the uncontrollable aspects of the tumultuous world around me. All these pent-up thoughts and emotions whiz around my mind like debris caught in a funnel cloud. After a time, they can cause a big old tumultuous storm of shit if I don’t eventually allow them to come out in some form of creation.
In this self-portrait, I was in a frantic and anxious part of my life and much change was right around the corner. I don’t remember really setting the scene for the photo for any particular reason other than I liked the decay of this particular building and for some reason, there was an ax handy. When I look at it now, I can see my subconscious mind was definitely at work. It was a quiet moment, in an otherwise anxious time in my life combined with the juxtaposition of life and decay.
Even now, my mind is setting up my next self-portrait. It involves a field and a cold war era Soviet gas mask… I wonder what you will make of that.