Phoneography Challenge: (Almost) Portraiture

22 July 2013

Lens:

1. Self-Portrait # One, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

1. Almost Self-Portrait # One, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Self-Portrait # Two, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Almost Self-Portrait # Two, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Self-Portrait # One, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

3. Almost Self-Portrait #Three, iPhone 4s, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

4. Self-Portrait #Four, iPhone 4s, June 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

4. Almost Self-Portrait #Four, iPhone 4s, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

5. Self-Portrait #Five, iPhone 4s, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

5. Almost Self-Portrait #Five, iPhone 4s, July 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

Let me know which you prefer and why.

Pens:

Gracie (http://graciebinoya.com), Polly (http://watchingthephotoreels.com) and I began the iPhoneography Monday Challenge in February. Recently, we had a re-launch that made the challenge open to everyone who uses their Smartphones as their lens–exclusively, experimentally, frequently, occasionally, or back-up. If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. Please use the current badge until a new one is created, which will be ready sometime this month.  

 “I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself; they aren’t self-portraits. Sometimes I disappear.” — Cindy Sherman, Photographer

Without question the quintessential portraitist of the recent past and present is American artist Cindy Sherman. Her aesthetic oeuvre is not to replicate herself or others. Each photograph is a fictional persona–a persona that shouts substantive commentary.

Sherman’s portfolio consists of staged exhibits that punch the viewer with so much more than artistic photographs. Each image proclaims a place within the context of our culture and society, showing individual identity within the human condition.

Mostly, her visualizations are staggeringly provocative and thought-provoking. Oh, and she’s the model for each rendering.

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #466. 2008. Chromogenic color print, 8' 1 1/8 x 63 15/16" (246.7 x 162.4 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Robert B. Menschel in honor of Jerry I. Speyer. © 2011 Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #466. 2008. Chromogenic color print, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Robert B. Menschel in honor of Jerry I. Speyer. © 2011 Cindy Sherman

Human nature dictates that we immortalize ourselves, and photographs are an avenue to fulfill this need. But photographers such as Sherman are inspired by an almost incomparable vision of the world that we inhabit; they give us a different way to see humanity.

Her feminist philosophy is encased in her art. This interpretation is glue that has held her body of work together for over thirty years.

Early illustrators used some of the same techniques to imagine historic events (e.g., the Brandywine School of artists that re-imaged what someone looked like, initiated what could have been, dressed in period costumes, manipulated history). Sherman explores the past and present through a veneer of her imagination and the veil of history. Click here to watch an Art21 (PBS) short film about Sherman.

"Cindy Sherman: Retrospective," by Amanda Cruz, 2000

“Cindy Sherman: Retrospective” (2000) by Amanda Cruz

This post is an ode to Sherman’s contribution to art history, photography and even mainstream life. Her work has redefined the way that “we”‘ see portraits and self-portraits. I compare it to the way literature has been wrestling with autobiography, memoir and non-fiction.

In the Lens section are my five entries for this challenge, using (almost) portraiture as the theme. I’ve never enjoyed having my photograph taken. When I imagined experimentation with self-portraiture (which is the rage among phoneographers–see Tip of the Week), the vision was an abstraction of who I am. My almost self-portraits leave much to the viewer’s imagination.

Every photograph speaks loudly and silently about its maker. The bits and pieces of me sans face are composed to give you no more or less than I am willing.

Regardless of the content portraiture exemplifies an individual’s ability to hide and reveal. That inherent nature within an artist’s work is the essence of Sherman’s mission: to steer clear of her own private life and use fictional characters to blend content and context into representative images. But, more importantly, to stir the viewer’s sense of reality within history and our current social milieu.

Tip of the Week: One of today’s infectious trends is the selfie, which is a strange phenomenon where the phoneographer is the subject of the photograph. It represents  a twist on the usual photograph. Originally, these images were created when the subject could not locate a friend or passerby, but now this archive of selfies is fixated within the culture. Hope that you will give it a try. Whether you take a traditional or an unconventional approach, have fun with it. I’d like to see what you do. Send me a sample.                                                  

Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.

See other entries here:

http://blogagaini.com/2013/07/22/iphoneography-monday-pick-one/

http://woollymuses.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-fog/

http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-challenge-almost-portraiture/

http://weliveinaflat.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-weekly-the-city-at-night-marina-bay/

http://thepalladiantraveler.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-challenge-food/

http://streetsofsfphotos.com/2013/07/22/doors-2-11-photos/

http://completelydisappear.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/hot-pot/

http://ohmsweetohmdotme.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-monday-challengers-choice/

http://nwframeofmind.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-monday/

http://watchingthephotoreels.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-challenge-challengers-choice-time/

http://pilotfishblog.com/2013/07/23/phoneography-challenge-black-and-white/

http://livingwithmyancestors.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/phoneography-challenge-night-photography/

http://weliveinaflat.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/weekly-phoneography-population/

Here’s a reminder of the weekly schedule and themes for upcoming Phoneography Monday Challenges:    

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black-and-White

4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

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40 Responses to Phoneography Challenge: (Almost) Portraiture

  1. I like how the self-portrait created a bit of mystery but at the same time showed unique, interesting details of a beautiful person, inside and out. Great pics as always.

  2. Nice essay, food for different thoughts. At first sight there is no doubt: it is N° 5! The combination of a rounded black shape shape with real geometric lines is, in my view a good metaphor of the way we all (human being) are in this modern high tech world. But I lika also N°3 for the graphic effect, I would rotate it of 90° on one side…just me. robert

  3. goderictia says:

    definitely shot number 3.

  4. HansHB says:

    Great post, I do like Your portraits!

  5. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge: Night Photography « LIVING WITH MY ANCESTORS

  6. patriciamoed says:

    Hi Sally! I’m partial to the one with the gold necklace. It’s provocative and subtle at the same time! A beautiful shot.

  7. Gallivanta says:

    My favourite is number 3; I like the softness and light and mystery of it.

  8. Great framing it gives the set an abstract feel

  9. These are great self-portraits!! I love that you have brought up Cindy Sherman! I once did a series of portraits of my daughter where I emulated different fine arts photographers’ styles and one of them was Cindy Sherman! I’m an art history major so I’m kind of obsessed with her work. She has changed how we study and look at portraits! It’s funny to me that so many take photos of themselves these days an post on Instagram (calling the “selfies”). I wonder what she thinks of this trend. Great post!

  10. Sally, I really enjoyed your series of (almost) selfies. I like them as a series and would hesitate to single one out from the group.
    My picture is a simple one today but has some personal history attached to it. I hope you enjoy:
    http://nwframeofmind.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-monday/
    Lisa

  11. "Occam Blade" says:

    #3 for its graphic simplicity and the contrast of texture. The sweater and your hair suggests tangible qualities about you, but there’s more. I noticed 3 strong elements: a) the tone of the background beneath your arm, b) the spillover of light above your arm and next to your side and c) the whiteness of your skin as it mirrors the tone [a bit] beneath your arm. So, what intrigues me is that the light source appears to come from behind you, at an angle towards the camera and yet your skin is quite white and suggests that the light is coming through you. Otherwise, your skin, I believe, should have been underexposed or at least closer to a light grey. Sorry for the long “why” of my choice. Nicely done, by the way!

    • I was standing in front of a very large window that has a translucent shade, and the bright light shimmered enough to cast the effect. I do appreciate your response, and the explanation for your choice. My sincerest thanks.

  12. Pingback: Knife, Fork and iPhone | The Palladian Traveler

  13. Sally — I’ll give you a “thumbs up” for frames #4 and #5. The color and the matte effect go well in #4, and the B&W silhouette of the hair stands out so nicely is #5.

  14. BTW, I really like your shots. 🙂

    janet

  15. I enjoyed your commentary very much today. 🙂 I have always found it harder to connect with the abstract, hence #1 and #2 appeal more because it is just easier to find meaning in the act of setting up the shot and also to take the piece of jewellery as representative of the person. 😛

  16. Pingback: Phoneography Weekly: The City at Night – Marina Bay |

  17. OK, Sally, here’s my entry for this week: http://sustainabilitea.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/phoneography-challenge-almost-portraiture/. I don’t know if you have pingbacks enabled, I don’t have the widget up yet (but I’m working on it) and I don’t know if this is even the way I’m supposed to enter, but it’s a start. 🙂 Thanks!

    janet

  18. Jo says:

    I love abstract photography, number 4 is my favorite 🙂

  19. Self portrait number four…very uniquely done my friend.

  20. I am a big fan of abstract and so prefer #3. While the viewer knows there is an armpit and sweater involved it requires a much closer look to figure out the angle and how the shot was accomplished. Any photo that can capture me for that amount of time wins 🙂

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