Low-Key Me

I have to say, I was a little apprehensive about doing this week’s task.  Not because I wasn’t looking forward to, or was intimidated by the idea of low-key, but because I knew I had some catching up to do.  Yes, the fact that I’ve skipped a couple of topics is in the forefront of my mind each time I begin working on a new week.  This week, I’m happy to report,  I’ve included the subject of one week’s task in the low-key realm: me!  Remember a couple weeks ago when I was supposed to do a few self-portraits and I didn’t?  Well here we have it, ladies and gentlemen, me in low-key.

I love taking pictures of people, but with this love comes a few problems.  For starters, I don’t have a lot of handy volunteers, as you know, so finding models for my somewhat strange ideas is a little difficult at times.  The other three weeks which need catching up on all have models in my mind; one could do without, though I’d rather have them, and the other two would fall into the strange category, so I’ll just keep searching.

My next, and undoubtedly biggest, issue with photographing people is that I’m incredibly shy.  When I have a model, it’s always someone I know, so I should be comfortable, right?  Wrong.  It takes me a while to get into a groove, and I’m completely uncomfortable directing them.  I’m sure in this case I would do much better with someone I didn’t know.  I would feel comfortable in being much more direct, and I don’t have to hear from them how stupid I sounded afterwards, right? 🙂  It’s just like any other job; I’m completely professional and can handle everything on a day-to-day, until a family member visits me at work, and then I’m a total doof.

Hiring a model for all these projects is a little out of the question at the moment, so I’ll have to suck it up.  Which brings me to the people who I don’t know and do have at my disposal.  Street photography.  Ahh, yes.  I love it so much, but have I ever done it?  That’s a big n-o.  It’s not like I’m uncomfortable being in public and shooting pictures; I’d actually walk around all day taking pictures of things and looking like the complete “tourist”, which I know is a big deterrent for a lot of people.  But as soon as I think about pointing that camera at the random interesting stranger walking around, I can’t bring myself to do it.  It’s something I need to work on, I know, especially since I have this nagging feeling that I need to just get out there and do it.  I don’t think I’ll be satisfied until my portfolio contains a good amount of street photography shots.

To get back on topic, the point of this is to say that while I wanted to photograph someone for the low-key project, I was out of volunteers, except for myself.  While completing all of what seemed like a million self-portrait projects in my drawing class, my professor often told us that “you are your best model”, if for no other reason than simply because of availability.  I often scoffed, internally, at this.  It’s not that she was invalid in saying this; she’s absolutely right!  I, on the other hand, hate taking pictures of myself, hate being in pictures, hate drawing myself, and the list goes on.  So as I mentioned before, I wasn’t enthused about the self-portrait project, but knew I just had to do it to stay on track.

So after being selfied-out from taking my school ID badge picture earlier in the day, I decided to not let a good hair day go to waste.  After it got dark, I got my low-key set up together, which consisted of my camera, tripod, mini hand-held flashlight, Nikon WMU, and cell phone.  Now, this is quite the cumbersome set up, but it gets the job done.  Once you get the hang of getting your camera settings correct for a low-light setting, then using your phone to preview and take pictures while posing, holding for the long exposure, and moving the light around, you can get some decent shots.  My arms were pretty tired from holding things up for a while, and I was semi-blinded from shining the light in my eyes a million times, but it’s all for the sake of art.  Glad no one caught me, because I must have looked crazy all contorted and trying to do this.  Oh, and one more thing about me not liking pictures of myself: I never smile.  Unless it’s a group photo where I’m instructed to “smiilllleeeee!”, it’s not going to happen.  Even MICA didn’t get a smile for the ID picture, sorry guys.  Also (ok, so it’s two more things), I also like to shoot more abstracted views of myself.  You’ll see; it’s me, not smiling, and semi-cut off in a lot of these!

Originally, I thought that I would go all black and white with these images, but after seeing the final results, and actually loving them without any edits, I decided to leave the majority of them in color.  I do love how the black and white images give a slightly warmer feeling to the composition, which I was pleasantly surprised by.  The color images are fun because of my crazy hair color; I love it when the light hits it and it’s a really intense color, which is what you’ll see here.  I may have hit the highlights a little high in some of these, but I think I’ve captured the essence of low-key.  The difference between black and white and color also plays a part on this;  not only do the black and white photos appear warmer in my opinion, but they also make those highlights look more toned down, even though I didn’t do anything different to those images than I did with the color images.  I say, as far as successfully completing this project, the black and white images win, but I love the pops of the color images!  Either way, enjoy, and let me know what you think!  Black and white, or color?

Week 30: Self Portrait

Wow.  It seems pretty crazy to be typing “week 30” already.  This year seems to have gone by too fast and not fast enough at the same time.  Just today I was thinking about how much of summer is already gone.  Have to make the most out of the warm weather before it’s gone!

Anyways, back to the topic at hand….unfortunately.

Self Portraits.  That’s what I am tasked with, and I’m not trilled about it.  To say that the self portrait is the least favorite subject I could depict, weather it be photography, painting, drawing, or any other medium, would be an understatement.  I cringed when we were instructed that self portraits would be our first project in my digital photo class.  We all grumbled as we repeatedly worked on self portraits in preparation for our final in my drawing class.  I about hit my head on the desk when we were instructed to completed yet another self portrait project in design.  I truly despise them.  Yet, as ironically as it may seem, I feel like you all have been privy to quite a few of them.  Though some images may be abstract, you’ve seen version of my self portraits in week 24, week 6, week 19, and even in week 18.  I suppose when necessary I will utilize the self portrait to convey my message.  Something about that makes it much more enticing than being instructed to complete a picture of myself for a project.

So I haven’t at all decided what I’m planning for this week.  Part of me wants to simply complete the project as many would interpret it and take some pictures of myself.  I never do, and this would be a good way to break that barrier.  The other part of me wants to keep with the theme of just portions of myself; hands, eyes, feet, profiles, etc.  Yet another part wants to take this in a completely new or abstracted way, photographing myself in a way I never have before, or simply photographing items which would capture the essence of me.  I suppose you’ll see when I figure things out.

In the meanwhile, I’ll leave you with one of the afore-mentioned school projects.  In the design class I took, all of our projects, with the exception of the final, were completed in black and white.  While the majority of our work was done with paint, pen, and pencil, we were lucky enough to have the option of any medium while completing the self portrait project.  Since my teacher was already aware that I was a photographer, we both knew that was going to be my go-to.  The objective was to use different values of light and dark to show two different sides of yourself, or two different personality traits.  In the end, this turned out to be one of my more favorite projects.  Once the images I selected were reworked into black and white, I loved the final result, and how the light worked in both images.  Perhaps I’ll have to keep these positive results in mind while working on this weeks project.  Enjoy.