Self-portraits. They’re a bit self-absorbed, aren’t they?
Nonetheless, here I am a taking picture of myself and showcasing it online. I had to take about ten of these shots just to get something half-way presentable. But in my defense, this seeming self-absorbtion is partly inspired emulation.
Last week, as a subscriber to the Vivian Maier newsletter, I received an email that her collectors recently added new photographs to her Self-Portrait portfolio. They’re an amazing revelation of artistry and history.
What’s fascinating about Maier’s self-portraits is her creative use of reflective surfaces to capture her own image. Check out this one where she used an automobile mirror.
Her portraits also convey the timespan of her work—not only did she herself change, but so did her cameras and photography. She went from shooting black and white with a Rolleiflex camera in this 1955 self-portrait, to shooting in color in this 1970s portrait, possibly with her Exakta camera.
I wonder if Maier were alive today, what she’d think of us obsessively shooting pictures of ourselves and posting them online—she, who was so intensely private? Would she be boggled that I used an iPhone for my self-portrait?
And what about discoveries?
Maier’s 40-year stash of photography was discovered in a storage box. Someday will someone discover an unknown stash of artistry on the internet? Will it be yours or mine?