Project 7: Self Portrait in a ‘Self Space’

This week, I have practiced a project experiment in which I have returned to self portraiture.  Having observed the work of Ingrid Pollard, I have chosen to explore further in the private space and identity.  Similarly to Pollard, I intend to bring myself into the picture once again as I am keen to investigate further into how one’s own identity can be revealed on a personal basis.  To do this, I have chosen to photograph myself in a bedroom because this is a very personal space and this type of environment is also strongly representative of the person living in the space.  I have intended for the lighting of this staged portrait to be quite low key to create a balanced but effective tonal contrast in the space.  My concept for this self portrait continues the theme of ‘Sanctuary’ where my interpretation of this looks at the interior space and particularly addresses how we can make a space our own and how the space can reflect the individual personality.

All Photos 

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Post production Development

During the post production editing stage, I made minor adjustments to the frame and the lighting of the images.  I firstly cropped the image to bring core focus onto the window area.  I have photographed the scene from a position that reveals parts of the furniture in the space and cropping the images slightly is intended to reduce unnecessary subjects as I only intend to have the window, myself and surrounding furniture.  This is to reduce clutter within the image and emphasise more on recognising the space for its main features i.e. a bed and wardrobe are central necessities for a bedroom.

I used the curves tool to enhance the lighting further as the images are slightly underexposed.  I also used the shadow and highlights adjustment tool to bring more tone to the view of the exterior space. I did this by selecting areas of the window glass as this area appeared appeared quite overexposed in comparison to the interior space.  The use of flash could have been used in this photo shoot, however, my main intention was to capture ambient light coming through the window.  I feel using flash would have brought a different effect and would not succeed in bringing the warm, natural tone to the image.


Final Images

This three piece series reveals myself within my own personal space in which I have performed three different poses in association with the window where I am looking into the outside world.

Fig 1. Untitled. 2015

I find this image is perhaps the strongest of the three as I stand in a position that is not too far or too close to the camera. I also think the lighting is well established and the body language of the pose itself reflects clearly how I may be feeling.  From this image, I feel there is a sense of anxiety and fear as I hold my hands close to my chest as if I am trying to protect myself.  I find this image potentially draws upon subjects of social issues and perhaps feeling lonely.  My intention was to show how we one can worry in their space and what we do when we are placed within this state of mind.  For example, pacing back and forth displays a show of worry whereas in this image, staring out of the window displays a show of hopelessness.  I have not completely revealed my face in this image but there is still a clear understanding of my sexuality and ethnicity.

Fig 2. Untitled. 2015

This image sees myself sitting ion the window ledge.  I find the pose for this is somewhat more emotionally connecting as there is more emphasis on a sense of ‘personal longing’ with my facial expression.   I do find this image is slightly weaker as I am placing myself in a cramped space that sits closer to the exterior environment which is distancing my character from the audience slightly.  However, there is a tenderness in the atmosphere that brings a cinematic quality to the scene; I may be a person who is waiting for news or simply reflecting only life and so there still is a continuation of story element in this, perhaps in a more darker tone than my other final images.

Fig 3. Untitled. 2015

This image takes an approach that sees myself peering closer out of the window and leaning on the table. Here I find my character is braver and more curious in this as if I want to know what is happening in the outside world.  Once again, I do find there is a distancing between the individual and the viewer as I shut myself in my own world, however this was the intention in the first place. Like the other images, the story element is clear and I am intrigued by this relationship between the individual and the space,  particularly with the window as this is element is used in a prop like sense.  The window is an active element as it links between the interior and exterior world; the image also refers to wanting to adapt to different environments and the window is the one thing that stands in the individuals way.  There is a continuous acknowledgement towards the space outside the window which is suggestive of its importance.


In conclusion to this project, I find I have become more comfortable with self portraiture.  Working within a small space has made me consider more of how to frame a picture and using the space to direct a particular point of view.  I found acting out the part for these images made me consider the importance of freeze frames when photographing; this is something I intend to explore further in staged photography.  I am satisfied with the final images and I find there is definitely strength in narrative.  The lighting works well within these images as there is a soft but also striking appearance between the shadows of the room and the glow of light from outside.  Once again, I had to be careful with costuming and reorganising the space; I intended for the room appear very plain so any objects within the interior were removed and I also chose a light top to balance this against my dark complexion.  I chose to shoot the scene during the ‘golden hour’ as this is when the daytime light is at its strongest and warmest. I found it challenging to achieve the poses correctly as I was using a slower shutter speed, I had to be completely still.  Overall, I find this series plays the ‘Sanctuary’ theme well and brings a compelling sense of drama.


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