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Favorite Friday: Candid Photos & Self Portraits

Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered a photo series and a website that I’ve really come to appreciate.  I’ve always really liked candid photos.  There’s just something about them that doesn’t seem as forced as a staged photo does.  You can see the genuine expressions on people’s faces, their looks of surprise, sadness, or excitement.  I like the candid action shots the best, I think.  A moment in time, a moment in someone’s life, caught forever.  So many stories can be imagined from this one instant standing still for an eternity.

The first one I came across was from the New York Times photography blog called Lens.  On April 26, a photo series titled Seeing Yourself as Others Do.  It is a self-portrait series by Jen Davis who “wanted to see what the outside world saw when they looked at me”.  But at 5’4, 260 pounds, this could not have been an easy thing to do.  Yet, she does it, posting pictures of herself on a beach next to near perfect bodies, eating, trying to button pants, coming out of a shower, among others.  She still goes on to chronicle herself over a 9 year period and even after she has weight-loss surgery and begins to lose weight.  The photos definitely show a more confident person towards the end, but a girl who is still unsure of herself and her body still shows through.  You can view the entire series here, which I definitely urge you to do.  They are amazing and inspiring photos, and show a new perspective on how someone could feel about their own body.

A few days later I came across Springfield Photographs.  This is a cool website that is a collection of photographs taken between 1929 and 1935 for the Illinois State Journal.  It chronicles everything that went on in this town, from the everyday things in life to big events that occurred.  I love the candidness and the spur of the moment in all the images.  There’s pictures from the high school and the kids, workers trimming trees in the town, a jogger running through the streets, weddings, funerals, a visit from Herbert Hoover, state fairs, everything that went on in the town has a picture to go along with it.

I have always wanted to do some sort of candid photo series of my own.  I live near New York City, Philadelphia, and Trenton and thought they would be good places to start.  But I can never get myself to take pictures of strangers.  I feel intrusive on their lives.  Who would want a total stranger taking pictures of them?  I’m not even comfortable taking pictures of my own friends and family.  I’ve gone to weddings, parties, graduations, baby showers, etc but I hardly have pictures of the people being honored.  I do have about 108 pictures of the cake and table decorations if you’d like to see those though.

I want to try to break out of this habit.  I think candid photos are really cool and would like to have my own series that I’ve put together of all the places I visit.  And what better subject to start off with than myself?  A couple nights ago, I set up the self-timer and proceeded to take pictures of me.  I didn’t want to just sit there so I jumped around in front of the camera.  And I have to say, I had a lot of fun with it and got some really cool photos.

"Untitled" Picture taken 5/2/12

"Reach" Picture taken 5/2/12

"Catch Me" Picture taken 5/2/12

"Dream in Swirls" Picture taken 5/2/12

 I am really proud of my pictures and I plan to do this more often.  I think I just have to come up with more ideas to photograph myself doing.  There’s only so much I can jump around.  Maybe I’ll expand to other people, but for now I’ll just stick to myself.  I’m having too much fun right now.

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