02 April 2007

Self-Portraits

Having read Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment I now have a hard time not continually seeing photographers who take "the same" pictures. One instance is the 1958 self-portrait by Inge Morath below and the (cropped) one at right by Jane Bown from 1982. You can find a larger version of the Bown image at the flash-based web page I link to; I couldn't find one to lift from the web. (There also is a story on Bown from The Guardian here with links to more of her images.)

Bown clearly is "behind" the camera, which obscures her face, while Morath is in the camera's shadow.
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PS: (Added 4/3/07) Here is yet another similar image, this one unidentified, that appears as a banner on the photography page over at Open Democracy ...

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are three very different pictures that fit under the unbrella of self-portraits with camera in mirror.

Inge Morath positions her camera like a veil. Bowens holds hers up like a religious icon, and shows herself.

The last one, at that other blog, shows the camera-as-glass-eye-extension.

One major category, three very different pictures. The first is about mystifying, the second about revelation, and the third about the functional relationship between camera and photographer.

05 April, 2007 18:10  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Luis, That is an intersting view. I actually disagree a bit. The Bown and the anonymous seem to me to be doing much the same thing. In each case the photographer is looking directly at you - the viewer. In each case her left eye is right on you. Morath, by contrast is not making eye contact, having focused the camera and then looked away. But each woman is hiding behind the camera (or its shadow); it seems to me that this is true of the third image as much as of Bown & Morath, since the woman really is appraising you.

Having said all that, I don't think that the images need be identical - there does seem to me to be a family relationship between them.

05 April, 2007 18:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luis, what is it about the way Bowen holds up her camera that makes you say she "holds hers up like a religious icon"? Are you sure you're not making a subconcious religious association because of the photo's title?

08 April, 2007 15:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Luis: it's something about the way Bown is holding the camera, her palms are facing us, as if she is using the camera to protect herself.

There's a difference betwen showing the camera-as-eye, and merely using it to hide one's face. Many photographers don't like portraits of themselves and using the camera to block the face in a variety of ways isn't unusual.

I am wondering if there are differences between male photographer self portraits, and those of woman? I've renectly been looking at Rankin's selp portraiture, most of which is self deprecating. I don't think I've seen a woman disguise herself as a pig, although I wouldn't be surprised to find it done.

12 September, 2007 04:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(slew of typos there, sorry.)

12 September, 2007 04:53  

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