As I embark on a new year of self-portraits, I can't help but stop and reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point in my project, and my life. I feel the need to pause and remind myself why I am taking these monthly portraits, and refocus my attention on my goals for these images.
I started taking my self-portraits with four simple goals in mind, which I listed along with my very first self-portrait back in August 2011. I still want these images to be a way for me to put my face on the blog, and allow my readers a chance to get to see more of me. I also still want these photos to be a way for me to document my life, and to help me be better about accepting myself for who I am. And I definitely still want these photos to be a way for me to practice my photography skills. However, my purpose has also grown and shifted into something bigger.
I have made it my goal with each self-portrait to try to capture the important aspects of my life that month in a single photograph. I want to be able to look back at each photograph and be reminded of where I was in my life - what was happening, what I was thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing. For what is a photograph, if not a way to capture a memory or evoke an emotion?
I've been giving a lot of thought to where I want to take my personal photography this year. I'm still in the early stages of this consideration, but I do know that I want to expand my creativity. I want to step outside the box, and find new ways to say what I want to say with my images. I want to start branching out and capturing more emotion with my photography. And the place I want to start is with myself. Not only do I want to be able to look back at my monthly self-portraits and remember what I was doing, I also want to feel what I was feeling. Perhaps a tall order for a single photograph, but I think I have succeeded this month.
I usually start out saying something about each photo like, "January's self-portrait was taken at our rental house in Phoenix," which is a true statement, but a bit irrelevant for this particular photograph. Instead of the where or the how, I think the important commentary for this image is the why.
I'd love to be able to say that my relocation to Phoenix has been all puppy dogs and roses, but the truth of the matter is that the past six months have been some of the darkest of my life. Picking up and leaving everything I've known isn't easy, and this is the fourth time I've done it. With each move, I leave a little bit more of my soul behind and starting over is beginning to take a toll on me.
I don't regret moving here, and I still feel like it was the right decision for us. Unfortunately, we didn't settle into a new life here as smoothly and seamlessly as I had hoped, and I am still really struggling to find my new place in my new world. This month was the breaking point for me, where I finally realized that the things I am doing aren't working, and I need to take this new life of mine in a new direction. Sometimes you must reach total darkness before you can begin your ascent into the light.
Did you miss some of my past self-portraits? Clicking here will take you to all of my self-portrait blog posts. Clicking here will take you to my self-portrait Facebook album.
Michele Whitacre is a portrait photographer serving Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding area. Visit Michele's website at michelewhitacrephotography.com. Become a fan of Michele's work on Facebook. Follow Michele's updates on Twitter.