Self-Portraits in Studio

In an unusual fit of householdy ambition, I cleared out half of my cluttered home office to create a tiny, tiny studio space. Using only the lighting gear I already have, a very modest set of two flashes and stands, plus a few light modifiers, I’ve been experimenting with self-portraits.

I’m not a huge fan of studio photography. I’d much rather be in someone’s home or outdoors and capture the interaction between a person and their environment. However, we should always keep pushing ourselves, learning more about the skills we love.

Studio, after all, means a room for studying, and that’s what it is to me.

In my first, fumbling, feeble forays I’ve taken from, among other sources, the notorious portrait photographer Platon. His photos have great depth and contrast, despite relatively simple (but thoroughly considered) lighting set-ups.

He’s also fond of using moderate to extreme wide-angle lenses, which give a sense of depth and proximity – unsurprising, given how close the camera needs to be. Generally, wider angles are less flattering on a person, since they enlarge the nose and shrink the ears and make the face seem to bulge.

I wouldn’t attack a portrait subject with even a modestly wide-angle lens like my beloved Sigma 35mm f/1.4, but since I was my own model (a frustrating experience, let me tell you) I could do whatever the hell I liked.

And I did like it. Not at first, my first few shoots were flat and abysmal, but I’m getting better at balancing light, depth and texture.

These photos are not my most flattering, or significant, or even interesting. They’re not supposed to be. They’re supposed to be honest and real, even when they emphasise my oily skin and my weird, uncooperative left eye.

Hello, you. This is me.



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