A self-portrait

In the age of selfies, the art of the self-portrait is a drowning art. Like an anchor. It sinks to the bottom of the clear lake to remain as a foundation, while cell-phone portraits float at the surface by the millions each day.

What constitutes a self-portrait? I'm hardly a versed artist, but I can say this: a self-portrait almost always includes

  • thought & intention
  • planning
  • a message or subject
  • & an audience.

Recently I took a series of portraits to tell a story. I wanted to show what it was like to have schizophrenia through emotion, fabric, highlight and shadow.

I chronicled through portrait my journey with schizophrenia:

  • Symptomatic but not medicated or diagnosed.
  • Diagnosed but not medicated. 
  • Medication trial and error through hospitalization.
  • Isolation out of fear and shame.
  • Despair because of that isolation.
  • Accepting my diagnosis.
  • Coming public with my diagnosis.
  • Advocating for others with the same diagnosis.

I know that the term schizophrenia is hardly praised, so I wanted to present juxtaposition and present the subject as royal. After crafting the Elizabethan-style collar from lace and pearl, I sat in front of the camera and posed through stigma, labels, symptoms, and self-perception.

Despite the words "self-portrait," I'm proud to say I did have assistance with this project. Tory was in town and practically made this vision come to life by running me around town for materials and helping with the camera shutter when I couldn't reach it. She also tirelessly held up the blue cloth behind me like only a true friend would. It was beautiful teamwork.

From now on,  I want to treat my future portraits with respect as if they were to stand in a gallery one day. I want to know:

  • why did I take this portrait?
  • What message am I sharing?
  • What audience is this prepared for?

I believe when I know the answers to that question, the power of the portrait will come into full effect.