To butcher something that Winogrand once said, there are some photographers who would like to ‘disappear’ – presenting just the image that they capture, and showing as little as possible of themselves. There are also other photographers who shy away form having their picture taken – claiming that ‘my place is behind the camera, not in front of it’.
This kind of philosophy is one that I understand to an extent, but not one I subscribe to. Not only do I believe that you need to be comfortable being photographed if you are going to expect others to do oso, but I have always felt like being a photographer is an active process of engagement rather than a passive one. Simply by being present in a space (especially with a camera) you change it, and rather than run from that, you should embrace it. This is something that I only really started to understand and be able to articulate after a wise man directed me to ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger… and I credit that attitude partly with why I was relatively successful with party photography for such a long time.
Some of my favourite work from other photographers comes when they include more of themselves in the frame – either overtly or with just a hint. These pictures are often just as – if not more – interesting than their other work. Vivian Maier is an obvious example of course, but there are also folks like Elsa Dorfman, and Nicholas Dominic Talvola. Whether it’s because the photographers are eccentric characters themselves, they find it easier to be their own model, or just want to use up a roll of film, self portraits break down the third wall and give you a glimpse into the photographer as part of the scene – not just a diassociated third-eye.
Anyway, that was essentially just a fairly convoluted way of justifying what is a post with an unreasonably large number of pictures of myself.