The Self Portrait Project

It's pretty rare for me to talk about myself, even more, to have my photo take. Over the past year, I have continued to take self-portraits of myself. It really grew with one that I took at the end of last year, but isn't something that I haven't done in the past. I guess I can also add a whole bunch of stuff about myself. In that case, this blog will contain more about me than you probably care to know. 

I can start with a few common questions I get a lot since I'll probably start there anyways. 

When did you start taking photos? Was it something you always did or something gradual?

I started taking photos in high school. In my sophomore year of high school(2009-2010) I took a photo class, which sucked. My first camera was a Nikon Coolpix p100, which was the best camera I oculd buy at the time. I didn't really get into photography at that time, I was decent and cared more than half the people in that class but it was still just a class for me. 

My photos back then were art based, and weren't as tamed as the ones I post now. Photos with dutch angles, black and white and poor composition. But looking at them now, they are interesting to look at. Looking through my photos with that camera, I saw a gradual progression in my work, maybe from the class or maybe from practice, but they did get better. From the photos I did save, I see that I took more after the class was over than I did when I was in it. And from the ones I did take after the class, it looked like it was more relaxed than I am even now. Chasing the sunset didn't involve driving an hour to Russian Ridge, just riding my board to the park. 

 Camera balanced on bag. Self timer

Camera balanced on bag. Self timer

 Camera on a tripod. Self Timer

Camera on a tripod. Self Timer

What camera do you use? Why?

My first camera as I mentioned was a Nikon Coolpix p100. I don't think there was a specific reason why I was attracted to Nikon over Canon, which everyone had then and have now. But nevertheless, the trend continued and I got my next camera in 2012, a Nikon d3200. I remember the day because it was Independence Day. I remember driving to the store and walking up to the counter and asking for it. I also remember spending that night at the church on a hill trying to capture some fireworks(and failing). I've had that camera and used it up until this year, so it has been through a lot. And then finally the d7200 which I got this year to replace my d3200. Since its been more of a hobby than a job up until this point, I didn't spend much on it, but it was a much needed upgrade. 

 Used a mirror

Used a mirror

 Camera on a small tripod. Self timer

Camera on a small tripod. Self timer

What is your favorite lens? What lens do you use the most?

My newest one at the time. The one I need the most is the one I need. I used the kit lens for a long time, a lot longer than I would have wanted to. The newest lens is always going to be my favorite because of it being new, a new view. There isn't a lens that I consciously use the most. I don't use a lens just to use it, I use it to get the job done. 

 Camera balanced on my bag. Interval timer shooting

Camera balanced on my bag. Interval timer shooting

Have you always been into portraits?

No, only this year. Up until this year, I have been shooting landscapes. You can only do so much of the same before wanting to move on. One thing that I tell people is that there is only so much you can do when the weather isn't right for a landscape. At least with a model you always have a subject to work with, you can't really change unfavorable weather conditions. 

But I was interested in portraits before too. I used to do a lot of drawings, almost exclusively portraits. 2013 was my first year in college, so my photography didn't really have much of an impact on my life yet. My feed in 2014 involved a lot of drawings. Then 2015 I posted a photo every single day, which was easier to do with landscapes. It was difficult to keep up but it was not the hardest challenge I have attempted. 2016 I wanted to start a stranger challenge on my Instagram, but decided against it. It had to be the year I was least active since I started my account, I didn't have much of a direction to move it towards. 

 Used a tripod. Used a ruler to click the button to take the photo

Used a tripod. Used a ruler to click the button to take the photo

What are you in school for?

At this time, I am going into my fifth year at San Jose State University as a mechanical engineering major. Not exactly what anyone ever expects. I don't plan on every "making it" in photography. I like doing it for the art. Like drawing, when you start focusing too much on the money and business side of it, you lose the freedom to do it how you want. I do think at some point it comes back, but everything molds who you become, even if its just a little. 

 Camera on tripod. Used interval timer shooting

Camera on tripod. Used interval timer shooting

That's about all the questions that I can think about. But there is still more that I have to say. 

I am an introverted person. I don't mind being alone and talking o new people is painful for me. I started the year off with a stranger portrait project that ended up going really bad. I only made it 15 days before giving up. I have a lot of trouble talking to new people, which can make being a portrait photographer really difficult. Even now, sometimes I have my finger hovering over the send button for a whole day when requesting to shoot. Mostly only when shooting with new people, but it also happens occasionally when shooting with people I'm already familiar with. 

I'm happy to have met a lot the people I have met. Since I started taking portraits this year I have met a lot of new people. I've met more people in the 6 months Ive been taking portraits than in the 3 years I did drawings or langscape photos. 

 Camera on tripod, used self timer

Camera on tripod, used self timer

Its easy to tell from these portraits what my style is: colorful nature portraits. I've found that once you find your place, you manage to grow a lot more and a lot faster. There wasn't really a point where I decided to do nature portraits, it might come from shooting landscapes and being more familiar with these places. 

 Camera on tripod, used my phone to take the photo and focus.

Camera on tripod, used my phone to take the photo and focus.

Even though I've met all these people, I would still rather have myself take all these portraits of me. There's really just one simple reason behind it: the creative process. It's the same reason why I edit the portraits I take or pose the people in the way that I do. I think the photo is a combination of every part, from the photo is being set up, to the final product edited and everything. These photos are 100% me by me. I picked the outfit, location, lens, focus, composition, and edit. If you really want to know my style, look at my self portraits. 

 Camera on tripod. Self timer. 

Camera on tripod. Self timer. 

My most recent self portrait.