"Staging the Self"
Self Portrait Assignment

Towery ART 108

The requirements of the assignment are as follows:

-- At least 100 digital or 72 film exposures

-- At least 7 edited final images

Don't worry about variety in your final images, however variety must be present in your slide sheets. I want to see plethora of ideas explored before you decide on the final images.

The objective of this assignment is for you to begin to consciously express ideas in your photographs. You should make images which convey some aspect of your identity to the viewer, not merely your physical appearance. You should think about clothing, body language, environments, facial expressions, props ...

It is permissible to have an assistant release the shutter for you, however it must be your ideas not theirs.

If you find yourself at a loss as to what to make images about, here are some suggestions:

1. Explore your personal history. You may want to incorporate other images into your pictures, e.g., snapshots of relatives, lovers or your childhood. Perhaps collage is an appropriate approach.

2. Absentee self-portrait: Assemble objects that have personal significance and present them in an interesting manner or create environments that portray some aspect of your identity (lighting will be crucial to convey the correct mood).

3. Fantasy: Role playing has always been an important part of self portraiture. The lies you tell about yourself can be just as important as the truths. Dress up as your favorite fantasy.

4. Body language: Use your body as an instrument with which to express yourself. Explore facial expressions, gestures, details of body parts...

5. Photograph yourself in environments that somehow portray part of your psyche.

6. Just let go and be you -- there is plenty of room for humor in art.

These are not requirements for the assignment. Try ideas of your own or combine ideas. The key word is expression. I will stress creativity highly in this assignment. You know yourself better than you know anything else in the world. Pay attention to your dreams. Don't be afraid to try anything -- you don't necessarily have to print it. The technical aspects of the medium are always important. Work to improve exposure and print quality.


Suggested Further reading:

Anything by Duane Michals

Cindy Sherman

Nikki S Lee