With PICBOD approaching the first task was posted….
Pre-visualise and produce a self portrait using only available light, unrestricted in theme and technique yet still supplying a message to the viewer. You should spend time first understanding what it is you wish to convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production.
With an unrestricted theme it opened up the option to explore any ideas that I wanted. The only real stipulations were it had to be a self portrait and use only available light.
I spent the first few days wondering what I could do and found that with such an open brief it was difficult to generate any meaningful ideas. I decided that in order narrow things down I needed to restrict the possibilities to a subject that I was particularly interested in. My mind still refused to produce any results of note and I resorted to paging through magazines, searching the internet and looking back at past self portraits I had made. It was not until I drew back my curtains one morning and turning around noticed I was casting a strong shadow on the opposite wall which gave me an idea.
The previous day I had been looking at the work of Duane Michaels and in particular an image called Salvation
I have always taken a very anti-religious viewpoint and as someone who is passionate about photography this single image skillfully combines two subjects which are important to me. The Shadow on the wall had inspired me to create my own anti-religious statement and I had an idea on how.
Setting up the shot required me to mount my camera on a tripod and as I was taking a self-portrait I decided to use a remote trigger to fire the shutter. I removed a picture hanging on the wall to give me a neat clear space to cast my shadow and I began to hunt for parts to create the object to make my shadow. In an old draw I found some pencils and bound them together with some string. Using blu-tack and a box I positioned my newly created cross in direct sunlight from the window and leaned it slightly. With the height and angle the way I wanted a placed myself in the picture and took the picture.
I tried standing in a number of positions but I felt this was clearly the better one. When I was reviewing the image it reminded me of a quote by American Physicist, Steven Weinberg
Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. (Weinberg n.d.)
I felt this quote summed up what I was trying to achieve and shines a light on many of the faults surrounding religion and that we fail to be critical of its actions and intent.