Self Portrait

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As part of an ongoing series of assignments from Penny de los Santos, last week I had to compose a self-portrait. Among the rules: It had to express something about me. I had to push the shutter (no help from anyone else). It needed to something conceptualized and composed, not just a straight photo. It had to tell a story. She finished the list of rules with “Take a breath and just try…leap.”

So I thought about what scene might capture some essence of me. How often do we wonder about that? What scene could I place myself into that would tell a story, one that, at least to me, conveyed something essential?

I settled on a scene of me roasting a chicken and drinking a glass of wine as I cooked, my trusty chef’s knife on the cutting board at the ready. I think the exposure’s a bit off (that chicken looks a bit radioactive) and I had to crop it to avoid showing off the laundry on the table in the background, but I’m OK with it.

There’s something strange and curious to the experience of setting up a camera with the sole purpose of shooting a photo of yourself. Not a beautiful plate, not another person, not a landscape. It’s a weird kind of self interaction. It made me feel both deeply self conscious and vunerable, yet also a bit liberated. I recommend giving it a try.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.

Comments

  1. Wow! I think your photo is beautiful! If you didn’t say so, I would have thought someone else took the picture. : >

  2. I love the black & white photo of you trussing the chicken. It’s simple, yet elegant and something most food bloggers don’t show-the action required for the finished dish. Thanks for the inspiration, I’m going to set up my tripod and take the leap.

  3. Mary Jo Greenwood says:

    Great job Kat! It captures the essence of you. It would be perfect on the back cover of one of your books.

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      Thanks! Actually the author photo in the next book is the one that’s on this site. Mom took it, not a fancy photographer. She was tell me a joke or something to get me to smile, which is why I like it so much.

  4. Hey, I know that kitchen!!
    But really, I think you captured a small snapshot of..you! Missing… Your passion as a writer. Would have loved to have seen something that included that..

    • Kathleen Flinn says:

      Funny, I originally thought of taking a shot of me at work in my office. I’m thinking of trying that next.

  5. Kathleen Flinn says:

    I had a video chat with Penny and the others from the Creative Live photography weekend (which is a very cool feature of the new Google+ by the way). Penny’s feedback was that she which I had considered the background as the glass door and stuff on the table is distracting, and perhaps had less in the foreground so that it concentrated more on my face. Apparently, naked and raw chicken is not generally considered a good photography subject, which I agree as it was so white that I had trouble with the exposure. I had planned to reshoot this with the finished, roasted chicken but then Mike got up and I was too self-conscious to keep going.

  6. I love it. You seem so intent on what you’re doing. I kind of like the background. It makes it feel like you’re oblivious to the world around you.

    By the way, your photos have improved amazingly!

  7. What a great self portrait and always enjoy your clever tweets, I must sharpen mine quite obviously!
    Richard (aka Lapin Agile)

  8. It’s totally you, Kat. You think it a weird self-interaction to photograph yourself, think about all those self portraits that Rembrandt did- just him and some paint, staring at himself for weeks on end, focusing on his imperfect, aging face.

  9. Samantha R says:

    I love it! It captures at least one side of your personality if not more 🙂
    I do agree with Penny on the distractions in the background but hey, it’s a GREAT first self portrait!!

  10. i like it. I need to gather up the gumption to take a self portrait. Thanks for sharing!

  11. It’s not easy to capture oneself in portrait but you did it beautifully. Live, learn, practice and improve. It always fascinates me why some photo’s are considered fabulous, some not so. Really, who decides and why? If a picture moves me, makes me think, inspires me, to me that is a great photo.

  12. I love this! Thank you for sharing Penny’s assignment–what a great way to practice. I’ve already started on this–not so easy. I think it could be an interesting project to try to do every few weeks, though (in my case) the subject might get boring ( !) I love the angle you chose and the air of studied concentration.

  13. Kathleen: this is such a warm portrait… it makes me feel like I am sitting right across you, witnessing your intent and peaceful dinner preparation ritual… lovel. Cheers.

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