Exercise: There’s only one…

Brief

What are you about? Why are you ‘you’? What makes you different from other people? What makes you the same?

For this exercise, use either a mobile phone or a small but cheap digital compact. No DSLR or bridge cameras. You’ll also need a large lump of Blu-Tack or plasticine to put your camera on or stick the camera into. This is your tripod – it will stick into corners, on shelves, etc., where you would struggle to put a full-sized tripod.

Photograph yourself for three days. If you can, take roughly one photograph per hour.

If you miss an hour you can’t take two shots in the next. And you can’t repeat it if it goes wrong, if somebody moved, etc. Aim to show your feelings, your moods, your quirks, your belongings, your environment – the things that make you into you.

Produce eight images that, together, create a profile of you and explain what there is to know about you when read from left to right in a particular order.

Response

I will do this exercise (in some form) but I have issues with it as written.

Why specify camera size and quality, and the mount method? Why ‘photograph yourself’? (could depict your identity by showing objects, places, other people, or even by getting other people to photograph you). Why no reshoots?

The concern I have is that this is an exercise about identity in the Fine Art section of the course. Such restrictive instructions are a straitjacket to individual creativity.

The irony is that if the subject was anything other than identity I’d have been fine with it. But the method of execution is not in line with my own identity (following instructions unquestioningly, shooting deliberately on low quality equipment and dogmatically accepting poor technical quality images aren’t parts of my identity!)

It might have been much more appropriate to have had something along the lines of “take photographs of and around yourself for three days” without the other Dogme 95-style constraints.

/ rant over

I did find a way of delivering this exercise to my satisfaction. It involved not depicting my face! I did try for a day to take pictures with a selfie stick but hated the results – they had the distinctive weird vantage point of selfie sticks and resembles a type of photography that I really don’t like and certainly doesn’t reflect my identity.

So I shot down onto my hands and body instead. I depicted a number of different aspects of my identity over the three days and in the end decided to use the shots that has a similar aesthetic – e.g. all portrait mode (classic smartphone style).

I decided to present them in the context of the iPhone for two reasons: to emphasise the personal method of capture, and because the unwritten 9th identity statement is that I am a smartphone addict!

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