For this assignment I decided to go with the idea of a series of parody social media profile pictures from the same person, in this instance, me. This was a very hard concept for me to overcome as I actually hate being in front of the camera but when I was younger I was interested in theatre and even studied theatre studies for a year at A Level before dropping out of sixth form to study Music at College instead. This is in many ways a study of the false reality we create of ourselves on-line.
Gear and Technical
For this assignment I decided to intentionally use my i-Phone, as that’s what a lot of people use to take profile pictures these days as its so convenient. Also a bit like citizen photography, you use what you have on you. I used the front facing camera so I could see myself on the i-Phone screen and try out different poses. So this is lo-fi photograph quality. I have some nice camera gear now but this was a new challenge to not use that and try to focus solely on the creative side, ditch the gear and go with creativity to see what would happen.
To keep consistency and a theme running throughout the series of shots, I shot all the photographs in a square format (its also the format of most profile pictures) and in front of a white wall in my house next to a window with one overhead light on. To create the images I was looking for I tried different viewpoints (holding the camera head on or above, tilting the angle, etc) and framing, all the while factoring in I am holding the camera with one hand and trying to ‘strike a pose’. I went through a wardrobe of different clothing, hair wax, glasses, hats and tried out different facial expressions as well as trying to create a story or scenario within the images. I took 105 shots in total.Some shots I binned straight out as I missed focus on the i-Phone or they weren’t in the square format.
The images are straight out of the phone with no editing. I decided to give the images ‘titles’, in some cases these could be similar to a title someone would give a post on social media.I have intentionally kept the photograph number at the end of the titles.
This is all a bit of a risk and a gamble for me but I feel it has paid off to portray an alternative reality, experimenting with the ideas explored in unit one.
I took quite amount of time finalising the order of the photographs and deciding how I wanted them laid out. Word Press has a facility to let you structure a bunch of images in a set, I decided to display my final 16 shots 4 columns x 4 rows. You can also view larger versions of the images and click through them.
Whilst taking the series of shots I had some music on in the background, the song ‘Voices’ by the band Alice in Chains came on. The first part of the song is as follows:
” Who am I, is this me?
Am I one or thirteen?
I’ve gone cold, hard to deal
Used to stand where I kneel
Voices in my head
Does yours say what mine says?”
Extract from the lyrics for ‘Voices’ by the band Alice in Chains
It seemed really appropriate to what I was doing at the time and the mood I was in trying to create these different personalities. So I have called this series of photographs “Who am I? Is this me?”
I think I am probably in there somewhere within maybe one or two of the snapshots, I won’t say where (its probably obvious to people who know me), some are red herrings but I have no idea who some of these alternative versions of me are or where exactly they came from. Some of them are quite funny and some I really don’t like as they represent a part of how I see Social Media and its use to portray a version of yourself which isn’t accurate. Lots of people put across a perception of a perfect life or a false reality, when in fact they are utterly miserable and more lonely than they have ever been. Social media makes you lonely, who would have thought it?
Final Selection of photographs:
All of the photographs:
I feel the assignment meets the assessment criteria for Context and Narrative. It shows creativity, imagination and a developing personal voice. I feel I have taken a number of risks in producing this work and challenged myself to do something I haven’t tried out before.
It was fun to experiment with trying something very different for me and also to put the DSLR camera down for a bit, go back to a low quality camera device and focus on being creative. It can be easy these days to get lost in the gear we use rather than the work itself, so this was a good challenge for me. It was also interesting to turn the camera on myself and essentially take a bunch of ‘selfies’, I am an introvert and I prefer to be behind the camera so it was a challenge to play out different roles.
If I were to do it again…more costumes!
- Extract of the lyrics from the song ‘Voices‘ , lyrics written by Jerry Cantrell, song is taken from the 2013 album ‘The Devil put Dinosaurs Here’ by the band Alice in Chains, on Capitol Records. All rights belong to the creator, used here for context. A video for the song is also available to view on YouTube at this location Alice In Chains – Voices