The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

The Ultimate Selfie

Back during the tail end of Covid and Lockdowns I'd been getting hugely frustrated at not being able to take photos of people that weren't socially distanced. 

It had also meant I'd done even fewer images of the more cinematic/theatrical style I really enjoy.

However, I'd been toying with the idea of a multiple self-portrait for quite a long time. 

My first idea was to arrange several of me in the living room – lying on the floor in front of the tv, sitting in the chair reading a book, lying upside down on the sofa while leaning against another me, perhaps a me lighting the fire and another me walking in with a tray of coffee and cake. 

But it didn't take long before I realised I'd seen this kind of photo plenty of times online already. And while I was planning on making mine more dramatically lit and posed, I didn't think it would be sufficiently advanced for the amount of time and effort to create it.

So what if I was to shift it outdoors, and add another level of Selfie-ness to it by making it into a photo of me taking a photo of me?

There's a fairly quiet, single-track road that runs over the hills between Laurieston and Gatehouse that I thought would be ideal, especially if I could set it up around sunset, so when the weather conditions were right, I threw the equipment into the back of my car and headed out.

I put the wide-angle lens on the camera so I could get a good sense of the landscape, as well as give myself enough room to fit several of me into the image at the same time. I also wanted to make sure you could see the lighting system to give it that sense of a studio-style outdoor shoot.

With the camera on a tripod and set on a 10 second timer, I was able to move round and put myself in different positions, knowing that I would be able to line everything up quite easily in Photoshop afterwards.

I began by having one version of me leaning up against the car, with another one doing the photography.

But at that distance I realised every version of me I put into the image would be small, so I needed more in the foreground. I changed my pose to be upright and looking straight into the camera, and placed the photographer versions of me to the front and side.

I then put in a couple of observers, one holding the light in the background, one leaning on the car door, and one in the car at the steering wheel (which I had to light with a separate flash until inside the car). I can't remember where the idea came to have a version of me sprawled across the bonnet, but it made me smile so I left it in.

I also decided to have a version of me doing a selfie in the background. And if you zoom in far enough on the original image, you can see a 10th me on the screen of the phone I'm holding up.

With model-me wearing a long leather coat and sunglasses, while other Mes were wearing a different jacket, or no jacket, hat or no hat, or hat in reverse, I hoped to create a sense of variety in personalities.

I took quite a few more images of me in different positions than I needed, because I understood I wouldn't know which ones would work best together until I was sitting at the computer, constructing the final image.

While the theory of all the photos being taken from the same position, having the camera on a tripod in order to make the blending of the images more straightforward, was a good one, there were a couple of things I hadn't taken into consideration.

The first was there was a little more traffic than I'd anticipated and several times I had to move the tripod and lights out of the middle of the road, and place them back once the vehicles had passed.

The first time this happened, I realised I couldn't remember where they had been, so thereafter I placed some small distinctive shaped stones where the legs were, so I could line everything back up afterwards.

The second problem was the world was continuing to revolve, so with each shot the sun moved slightly. When I started the sun was comfortably above the horizon, but by the time I finished it had dropped behind the hill. This meant when I came to splice the images together the light was subtly different in each of them, and I had to carefully blend 3 or 4 different skies together, as well as the multiple Mes.

However, in the end I was pleased with the outcome, and not only did I get a lot of comments about it when I printed it up for Spring Fling visitors to see, it also ended up being used as the opening double-page spread in an article for Dumfries and Galloway Life magazine.

Below is the podcast where I talk about shoot, if you're interested.

1:57 - Welcome, what's coming up, greetings and comments
6:14 - An introduction to why I created "The Ultimate Selfie" photo
9:56 - A 10 page spread in DG Life Magazine - August 2022 - issue 177
12:51 - The photo sequence to create "The Ultimate Selfie"
23:50 - The Photoshop layers in "The Ultimate Selfie"
37:58 - Introduction to the Critique Section
39:40 - Dipti Mahi - black and white portrait
49:20 - Nadia - Sunset over Whitby
55:14 - Rose-Marie - bird in a tree
1:05:57 - Coming up next week - the art of the self portrait, leading to The Self Portrait Challenge for 2 weeks time
1:10:28 - End

No comments

All content copyright of Kim Ayres. Powered by Blogger.