Every photograph we take is a self-portrait

“Every photograph someone takes is also a type of self-portrait reflecting them, because each contains information about the person who made it. Its visual contents metaphorically represent what was important enough to the photographer’s eyes at that moment that they chose to freeze it permanently. Even though they may well not be in that picture themselves, every step of choosing where, when, who, how, and why to take any photograph says as much about its creator as it does about the subject matter being recorded on film.” (Photo Therapy centre online)

Do you prefer photography in black and white or color? Do you interact directly with your subject or are you passive and contemplative taking pictures from afar? What colors are you drawn to? What do you find yourself photographing the most by choice? What symbols come up most often in your pictures – water, trees, families, buildings, flowers, animals?

What do these things mean? Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, among others, have deliberated symbolic meaning. A trained psychologist could certainly reflect. But, we may also find that the answers lie within ourselves. It may be obvious or we may feel like we know the right meaning for certain things, when inspiration strikes.

Each photo that you take is a narrative about you – it reveals you. Our photography reflects the nature of our personalities, the baggage we bring from our life experiences, our mood of that day and what is most on our mind at that time in our life. Taking the photo is also one way to reconcile our emotional state, like how a dream brings to our attention those issues that are buried in our subconscious.

If we look closely enough at our own portfolios, we can learn a lot about ourselves. Self-awareness may also affect our work as photojournalists – if we have the courage to face the good and bad that is in ourselves we can manifest it creatively and honestly.

I am interested in this academic discipline that bridges psychology and photography because I see it as a possibly overlooked influence for the meaning of our work. Can we assess representation, ethics, context, technicality, and finally outcome, without also considering the inner narrative of the photographer as an influence?

This comes to mind as I analyze photography of persons with disability, by example. The thought of disability may cause a visceral reaction for some. It may be compassion, or misunderstanding, bias, memory, inspiration, or maybe fear of one’s own vulnerability. These feelings could influence how a person photographs someone with disability by manifesting their own issues onto the final photo through projection of their bias.

I may take this interest to a practical level and explore it in photojournalism. It is one of the ideas I am considering during my next term either to integrate into my photographic practice or through academic exploration. I am still finding my way for this how it could be manifested through photo reportage or composition, but it could be interesting to try either now or at a later time.

One reference for more information about the multifaceted approach of photo therapy can be found at this link.

http://www.phototherapy-centre.com/home.htm

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