Searching for the self (Photolab expo) – Y8

Searching for the self

How portraits, self-portraits and selfies have evolved over time

In this project of “The evolution of the portrait, self-portrait and selfie”, we tried to identify the changes produced over the last century in peoples behaviour in front of a camera.

First, we collected samples from two previous generations (parents and grandparents). The amount of images collected already showed us a significant change: nowadays we take lot more pictures!

After filing the samples, we determined three variables to analyse and translate into a scatter chart using “Sheets” from Google docs. The three variables chosen were: Look, Turn and Tilt (Looking, Turning, Tilting).

We can conclude the following:

Evolution of the “look (looking)” in the portrait and self-portrait:

Analysing the first variable, we saw an obvious change between the past and the present. The charts show that people used to look straight and towards the camera; nowadays, since people are more aware of what it means to be photographed, is more common to avoid a straight look and try to show more expression and movement by twisting the torso or even the whole body until we find the perfect pose.

Evolution of “the turn (turning)” in the portrait and self-portrait:

In the variable TURN, we have also been able to detect an evolution. Basically, the people that is been portrayed are no longer with the rigid torso facing the camera, instead we can observe the turning of the head (horizontal axis – X axis). The awareness of what photography represents today may have helped this evolution. The models have learned. Imitating poses and behaviours seen in common fashions shows, magazines, tv, social media, etc.  have helped bringing to the surface a series of patterns, like trying to appear distracted, not looking forward at all, half closed eyes, tight mouth, ignoring the camera and the photographer.

Evolution of the tilt (tilting) in the portrait and the self-portrait:

In the Y Axis, a clear change is again perceived. In the past, the face was barely tilted, usually people kept the face and chin straight.  The few movements represented in the chart were probably due to a distraction or modesty. Nowadays, that has totally changed. There is inclination along the vertical axis.

Breaking the rules:

Obviously, the analysis of trends and patterns have led us to know them and explore ways to break the rules. Photographers have to develop their own way to look at the world, that essence that makes them different and special. Therefore, in this project we have tried to escape from the common trends and try to reflect the true personality of the individual being photographed.

We have learned that reflecting the self in a photo, or in any media of artistic expression, is difficult. That’s why you have to take advantage of any moment, distraction, in which we as photographers can capture gestures and expressions, that show the personality, of the model. When referring to a self-portrait, we have to explore and look for ourselves. It is almost a psychological exercise.

Photolab Club