One of the assignments for my photo class was to create a self portrait. I have to admit, this was a bit of a challenging one. Being on the shooting side of the lens, I find myself comfortable doing the view finding. When the view is turned back on myself, when I was supposed to reveal myself from the outside in, well that was new. I tried a number of versions, including this one shadow in a field, “Out Standing in My Field.” I liked the way the shape created an “A.” Outstanding.
But I don’t really feel that way. Not yet. I’m still a novice at this photography thing. So I pressed on.
“Closer.” That was the image I ended up with for the assignment. I liked the idea because in many way taking photographs brings me closer to who and what I shoot.
After taking a season long series of shots of teams, I get to know the players, their tendencies, their approach to their sport. After spending a series of days in a neighborhood, I become familiar and comfortable with my surroundings and what’s happening. Heck, stare at landscape long enough and watch the light change in front of my eyes, I feel more connected to it.
But looking through the lens can only bring me so close to my subject. Photographing might bring me closer, but that closeness is admittedly a bit, shall I say, distorted. Actually being close to something or someone is not a one-way connection. Relationships are two-way. They require both give and take.
My self portrait says to me that photography is a great catalyst to bring me to places where I may not otherwise visit. It gives me the opportunity to encounter people I may not otherwise meet. And while it brings me in proximity of who or what I am shooting, I appreciate that its one-way direction takes me only so close.