Self Image in Photography

The Mirror Series of art nudes deals with self image in photography and its inspiration for the came from several events.  The idea to work with dull metal as a reflective surface came during a workshop with Connie Imboden at the Maine Media Workshops.  I bought a piece of aluminum sheeting and brought it into the studio to play with.  I shot this image with a model named Margaret.

Margaret art nude anisotropic images
Image of Margaret- inspiration for the mirror series

When she saw the image, her first response was “Oooh, I like that one!  I look thin!”.  That struck me as odd, because Margaret was anything but fat!  It shocked me that this lovely, confident young woman had an image of herself as needing to be thinner.

The other event (around the same time) was that I suddenly noticed myself looking older.  I thought maybe it was job stress, or not sleeping well, or turning 40, but when I started looking closely at photos from the last couple of years I realized I had looked this way for a while.  It was just that my mental self image was tied to the 30-something version of me.  I had been ignoring the aging visage in the mirror and substituting the younger version in my mind!

Out of these two events came the idea for the mirror series.  I wanted to explore how we form our self image and how different events, media or actions could distort that image.  I also wanted to probe the difference between image and its interpretation.  Margaret and I could clearly look at the same picture and see two different things because we brought different biases and histories to the viewing.  The mirrors I use are intentionally imperfect, so their reflection cannot be a true representation of reality.  Their reflections are warped, uneven and fuzzy.  And yet their images are “real”- they exist!  It is up to the viewer to decide how to interpret them.  The resulting image is more like a memory- blurred and imperfect- than like a true photograph.

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