I’m fairly comfortable with a camera in my hands, my eye to the viewfinder, the shutter under my finger. But put me in front of the camera and I’m quite a bit less comfortable. Put me in front of the camera AND in charge of the outcome of the image and I’m downright terrified. Or at least I was.
I was less than thrilled when I found out that I would be required to shoot self-portraits for my portrait photography class, but slightly relieved when I found out we were not allowed to show our faces. The face is the hardest part for me; this assignment would give me a chance to get comfortable in front of the camera without having to worry about facial expression. I put the assignment off for two weeks, but I knew the sooner I went to work on it the happier I’d be. I planned out my location (the Minneapolis Photo Coop) and what I would wear, and I planned a handful of shots to shoot. But still, I put off the actual shoot. Finally I went in and got to work, and the more I worked the more comfortable I felt. Each shot I took gave me a better idea of what I wanted, and I started to see how a photographer would direct a model to get the right shot, or would change the lighting or camera angle for the desired look. For the first time since I started shooting, the self-portrait concept started to come together.
I’m fairly happy with the final images; happier than I thought I would be. This assignment really taught me a lot, much more than I thought it would. This is definitely something I’ll do again on my own, and I’d recommend it for anyone looking to learn portrait photography. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting comfortable, and this is a great way to do just that.