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As a writer, I spend a great deal of time talking to artists and photographers about their work, and I regularly find myself returning to ask the same question. What makes a true portrait? More often than not, people tell me that the truest, or most honest depictions are those that capture something of the essence or energy of a person and who they are at the time. The same goes, I think, for self-portraits – some of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen have been enigmatic or metaphoric representations of a part of someone’s character – beautiful images that trigger a moment or a state of mind.
I like images to be minimal and almost graphic in nature, and I like to see what happens when you reduce the contents of an image to blocked colours, lines and forms. This picture was taken on the floor of the Barbican Centre, because my boyfriend and I agreed it was the perfect shade of red. I framed it up and then he took the shot. Because we were indoors and in low light, I set the aperture on the phone's camera to F2.2 to let in lots of light and I was impressed at how it managed to draw out this image. Even though the ISO was at 640, the image doesn’t have too much noise, which is rare for an image taken indoors. There’s a pleasing crispness to it. I also used the range of editing tools to deepen the shadow falling across my face. It makes me smile. It was a rainy day, but it looks sunny there to me.
Who we are is determined a lot of the time by who we spend time with. I wanted to take a photo of an interaction between me and someone I’m close to. This is me and my mate Isobel. To me this image is much more descriptive of me as a person than any image solely of my face. It feels positive. I like looking at it.
Self portraits are a great way of discovering as well as expressing ourselves. But they don’t have to be so literal, just as long as they say something about you.
This was one of the first images I took on the handset as I was just getting to know the camera. I used the pro photo setting on auto, which gave a deeper depth of field so the whole display was in focus. I took the image using the 10 second timer. The camera takes crisp, bright images, which suits my style of photography. I increased the contrast slightly and cropped the image after. The colours were already really strong so I didn’t have to do much to the actual image.
I wanted to capture an aspect of myself that didn't document my features but instead gave the viewer an insight into my personality and my style of work. The flower is something that is referenced in many of my images. I think the image is very stripped back, simple yet effective. Self portrait to me is an image that one creates to identify themselves, it can be anything and everything but gives some insight into the person's character. I prefer self portraits that aren't as literal but are more abstract and get you to think and speculate about what the artist is trying to say.
I used the Honor 8's manual pro settings for this image because I wanted to have more flexibility in terms of the outcome. I used a slow shutter speed so I could get a sense of movement in the image – like the wind that blows the grass in fields. I used the macro button to shoot this image so that I could get a shallower depth of field and a more abstract and dreamy aspect to the image. I also used exposure compensation to brighten the image more and, again, to give a dreamy feeling. I really liked the macro mode on the camera because it offered me the benefit of being more versatile when it comes to mobile phone photography; always on the go, I like to snap images for inspiration or just for fun so I'm able to be creative at the same time instead of taking just a standard snap. I also like the pro photo options; being used to these functions on my camera equipment means that I can implement and have more decisions in the final outcome of the images.
Like a lot of people, I'm not confident in front of the camera – my comfort zone is firmly behind the lens. I love the effect of blurring the 'wrong' part of an image, so sometimes it's nice to turn the 'focal point' upside down.
I found the fully manual pro settings on this phone really easy to use and ideal if you're looking for a bit more control when photographing, without carrying a bulky camera. The manual focus means you can choose which parts of the frame to bring into full focus, and here I chose the sky with the infinity setting. I don't usually post pictures of myself on Instagram, but this one's definitely making the cut!
I rarely like photographs of myself. I thought about taking a photo of my hand holding an object, or to hide my face or turn away from the camera. When I take a picture of someone else, I have seen a combination of elements that make me want to take the photo; it isn't just about whether or not I think they will like the picture. It has to be about more than that. So for this image I had to put my own insecurities about myself aside and look at the image objectively, which was harder than I thought it would be. I realised my style as a photographer is very much about the sitter and their expression, which is why I stripped it back to a simple white wall and a chair.
I was amazed by the quality of the Honor 8; to be able to take such a good quality image on a phone is incredible. It's pretty cool to have the option of changing depth of field, something I would love to have on my current phone.