Project ME: My Year in Self-Portraits - Part 1, January 2018

"We have to be vulnerable if we want more courage; if we want to dare greatly." - Brene' Brown 

Our family has an annual tradition of writing down our New Year’s resolutions.  We started this at about the time when our oldest daughter, Tess (now 22), was old enough to catch wind of this thing called New Year’s resolutions.  Tess, being one who equally loves goal setting and making lists, appointed herself the family secretary.   So we don’t just share our resolutions with each other, we write them down and revisit them the following year, all of us holding each other accountable.

Prior to Tess taking on this role, I never gave my resolutions much thought.  I would make a few resolutions at the end of December, think about them for the first few weeks in January, and then usually get caught up in our everyday routine and discard them.  But once Tess put herself in charge of our resolutions that all changed.  I had to think and speak carefully about what I resolved to do, because the whole family would be listening, and then a year later Tess would read aloud the resolutions from the previous year.  And who wanted to be the one who didn’t follow through?  Certainly not me!

Fast forward to December 30th 2017 (a day early this year), we all curled up on our living room couches with only the soft light of the still fragrant Christmas tree, anxiously awaiting the recitation of our resolutions.  Some resolutions were fulfilled, some discarded in the early weeks of 2017, and those belonging to Hugo the dog evoked laughter.  Yes, even the dog has a New Year’s resolution!  Hugo’s is a big one for 2018 – improve greeting skills.

After feeling good and bad about the resolutions we did or didn’t carry out, it was time to declare our intentions for 2018.  When it was my turn to share I gave me usual list of business and health related resolutions.  It was a carefully thought out list and I felt good about what I resolved to accomplish in 2018. Then Tess asked what my personal photography projects were for the year.  I hadn’t quite settled on any yet, but at that moment I blurted out, “Self-portraits! I’m going to focus on self portraits this year because there were no photos taken of me during Christmas.”  Like many moms and especially moms who are also photographers, you will find me in few photos from the entire year.  I did make a few self-portraits over the summer after being encouraged by my teacher and mentor, Stacey Ilyse Craft, but had pretty much given up on them once the fall routine amped up.  

So in the small, red "resolutions" notebook under “Mommy”, the final entry is: “Self Portrait Photography Project.”  I’m determined that come December 31, 2018 I will proudly hold my head high, and proclaim, “yes, I did that!”  And with that, here is my first blog post of 2018, dedicated entirely to my self-portrait project.  I am going to try to blog monthly on my project and would love it if you would follow along on my journey.  Maybe you will even be inspired to make a self-portrait too!

 1.3.18 - My first self portrait of the year.  Being uncomfortable in front of the camera, I hid behind my enormous Christmas mug.  But I did get the job done.

1.3.18 - My first self portrait of the year.  Being uncomfortable in front of the camera, I hid behind my enormous Christmas mug.  But I did get the job done.

 1.10.18   I showed my face, indirectly, to the camera in week 2.  I am also part of a self-portrait group on Facebook, and the theme for January was expressive hands.  

1.10.18   I showed my face, indirectly, to the camera in week 2.  I am also part of a self-portrait group on Facebook, and the theme for January was expressive hands.  

 1.10.18  Another photo from week 2 where I was working on expressive hands.  I liked the effect of black & white with the play between light and shadow.

1.10.18  Another photo from week 2 where I was working on expressive hands.  I liked the effect of black & white with the play between light and shadow.

 1.16.18  Week 3!  I guess I was still adjusting to being in front of the camera.

1.16.18  Week 3!  I guess I was still adjusting to being in front of the camera.

 1.16.18 I decided to try looking directly at the camera, and told myself I didn't have to show the world any of the photos if I didn't like them.  I opted to try the direct look while wearing my new glasses.  

1.16.18 I decided to try looking directly at the camera, and told myself I didn't have to show the world any of the photos if I didn't like them.  I opted to try the direct look while wearing my new glasses.  

 1.23.18 In week 4 I was inspired by other women in my self-portrait group who were putting themselves in front of the camera without make up.  I decided to do a session just after my morning run, still in my work-out clothes, no make up.  I felt vulnerable and used my Lensbaby, which is a lens that gives images some creative blur, in attempt to soften my edges a bit.  These bare faced photos are much harder for me to work through.

1.23.18 In week 4 I was inspired by other women in my self-portrait group who were putting themselves in front of the camera without make up.  I decided to do a session just after my morning run, still in my work-out clothes, no make up.  I felt vulnerable and used my Lensbaby, which is a lens that gives images some creative blur, in attempt to soften my edges a bit.  These bare faced photos are much harder for me to work through.

 1.23.18 There are so many tricky components that go into making a self portrait.  For one, are all my parts in the frame? Nope!

1.23.18 There are so many tricky components that go into making a self portrait.  For one, are all my parts in the frame? Nope!

 1.23.18  Also, where should I look?  And how do I feel about the focus falling directly onto my wrinkles?  It takes some getting used to.  But I like that it's real, even if it's hard.

1.23.18  Also, where should I look?  And how do I feel about the focus falling directly onto my wrinkles?  It takes some getting used to.  But I like that it's real, even if it's hard.

 1.23.18  This ended up being my favorite in the set from week 4.  It was an in-between moment, but I love the movement in my hair.  It also represents how I have hidden behind my hair for much of my life.

1.23.18  This ended up being my favorite in the set from week 4.  It was an in-between moment, but I love the movement in my hair.  It also represents how I have hidden behind my hair for much of my life.

 1.30.18  Wow, week 5 already!  I'm so proud of myself with sticking with this project.  Look how happy I am,  I even looked directly at the camera with no props or obstructions, AND I smiled! 

1.30.18  Wow, week 5 already!  I'm so proud of myself with sticking with this project.  Look how happy I am,  I even looked directly at the camera with no props or obstructions, AND I smiled! 

 1.30.18 By week 4 I figured how to make the light work for me in this one tiny corner in my house.  In this photo I see so much of my mother and my aunt (they are twins) in me.  Isn't it strange when you see your parents' staring back at you?!

1.30.18 By week 4 I figured how to make the light work for me in this one tiny corner in my house.  In this photo I see so much of my mother and my aunt (they are twins) in me.  Isn't it strange when you see your parents' staring back at you?!

 1.30.18  On this day it was very overcast and only a sliver of diffused light was entering the house through a window above me.  I like how it softened my 50 year old features.

1.30.18  On this day it was very overcast and only a sliver of diffused light was entering the house through a window above me.  I like how it softened my 50 year old features.

 1.30.18  I know I look distressed in this photo, but this was actually the beginning of a series where I was introducing movement into my images, in order to achieve "expressive hands".  I love how the light is mainly hitting my hands, and along with the shadows, shows hands that have a history.

1.30.18  I know I look distressed in this photo, but this was actually the beginning of a series where I was introducing movement into my images, in order to achieve "expressive hands".  I love how the light is mainly hitting my hands, and along with the shadows, shows hands that have a history.

 1.30.18  More expressive hands and movement.

1.30.18  More expressive hands and movement.

 1.30.18  I've titled this one, "I can see you, but can you see me?"  For much of my life I have been in a battle with myself about whether to keep my hair long or short.  When I reached my mid-30s that battle shifted to dye it or let it go naturally gray.  After a several year struggle with trying to keep my fast growing hair from showing roots, I opted to go natural, and my hair stylist encouraged me to keep it long, which was great advice.  I'm at peace with how I wear my hair now. 

1.30.18  I've titled this one, "I can see you, but can you see me?"  For much of my life I have been in a battle with myself about whether to keep my hair long or short.  When I reached my mid-30s that battle shifted to dye it or let it go naturally gray.  After a several year struggle with trying to keep my fast growing hair from showing roots, I opted to go natural, and my hair stylist encouraged me to keep it long, which was great advice.  I'm at peace with how I wear my hair now. 

 1.30.18  This seems like the perfect stopping place, completing the first month of my year in self-portraits.  

1.30.18  This seems like the perfect stopping place, completing the first month of my year in self-portraits.  

If you made it this far through my first self-portrait installment I want to say a sincere THANK YOU for starting this journal with me.  Getting in front of the camera is HARD!  I do it so rarely and almost never by myself.  I hope my project will inspire you to do the same, whether by taking the photos yourself, having a friend or family member take a few images of you, or by hiring a photographer.  You, my friend, deserve to be in photos.  Until next time...