#Picbod Week 1 Task – The Self-Portrait

Pre-visualize and produce a self-portrait (using only available light*) unrestricted in theme and technique yet still supplying a message to the viewer. You should spend time first understanding what it is you wish you convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production

  • *While you are required to use only available light, you can still shape and adjust this light as you see fit

Original Idea:

When we were initially introduced to this week’s task, Matt Johnston (lecturer in photography) mentioned that light that is emitted from laptop screens (for example) is acceptable to use.

I have always wanted to work with such lighting and so decided to start from there before thinking about what I actually wanted to portray in my self-portrait. (Admittedly this isn’t the “correct” sequence of deciding events, but I thought I’d just run with it for now).

Thinking about the lighting and what would be eliciting the light (the laptop) made me think about my incredibly hard-working characteristic. I then thought that if I were to use this particular light that it would be a good way to represent this part of my personality, giving a deeper sense to my self-portrait.

As this idea was so quickly imagined, I then decided to take a couple of planning shots with my camera phone to simply see whether the lighting would be as I imagined and if the atmosphere and narrative behind the image was comparable to that in my mind.

Photo 1

Photo 2

As you can see from the above photos I decided to try out two different bodily positions. This is because, originally, I thought that showing the more tired position (Photo 1) would enhance the hard-working ethic. Instead, I found that this, with the dark surroundings, perhaps suggested that I tended to leave all of my work to the last minute and, to be honest, the position in the planning photo also made it look as though I was in some sort of poisoning accident. Not the look I was going for.

Instead, I decided that if I were to take this idea forward, the more determined self-portrait actually showed the particular aesthetic I was hoping for.


Other Idea:

As I always seem to do, once I had thought of my original idea, I was pretty set on sticking to it (not one of my good points I might add). However, with this idea set in my mind, another idea popped into my head. If the laptop light counted as available light, what about my smart phone screen?

Pondering on this question ended up leading me to think about painting with light. Not the painting with light that allows you to make funny pictures of giant… people with your friends, but the painting with light as suggested by our guest lecturer and CSI photographer Keith Smith (https://hollyconstantinephotography.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/keith-smith-csi-photographer-lecture-and-workshop/).

If you don’t already know, what I mean by this is putting my camera on a long shutter speed and simply darting the available light over my body in order to highlight certain aspects (some more than others maybe).

Taking this idea further, I then thought about the discussion we had in our first #picbod lecture about having objects included in the self-portrait (https://hollyconstantinephotography.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/picbod-lecture-one/). This then led to me thinking about staging my image so as to surround myself in things that the viewer could use as clues in order to find out more about myself.

However, as I was still unsure as to whether this lighting would be allowed, I thought that the best thing to do was to email Matt.


After waiting a couple of days, unfortunately without an email from Matt, I thought that the best thing for me to do was photograph both of my ideas. This meant that if my second idea didn’t actually count as available light, that I would be covered. Below are some of my favourite shots, followed by my final photographs (please note, this is the first time I have ever painted with light so it might be a little rusty!):

Favourite shots:









Final Images:




Presented Image: