Early Self Portraits

This gallery page is a little different to my usual series, as it functions as a retrospective on my collective early self portraiture. 

My interests in photography and nudism developed hand-in-hand, as each to explored the other. It also came at a time where my fairly late starting puberty had delivered me a body I was just getting to know. Through photography and nudism I came to understand myself physically, and gained confidence in who I was. 

My early self portrait was very varied, with a variety of styles, photographic techniques, poses, expressions, etc. Eventually it settled into the style I feel most comfortable with, but it's interesting to see the many paths I explored. Below are some of the highlights and experiments from that period, starting in about 2006.


The first nudes...


The earliest of my self portraits and nudes I can recall are these simple and fairly reserved images. They are in retrospect pretty typical for people starting out in nude work, not quite ready to break the taboos of showing genitalia, but wanting to push into the nude realm.

The coloured walls

 

I decorated my house (I've lived in the same place since my second year at uni) intentionally with blank walls, to serve as backdrops. My most often visited early on was my red wall, providing a lovely contrast to my lighter skin. As you can see, my worries about modesty had quickly disappeared as I explored further.

These walls were literal blank canvases, which provoked much experimentation.

Multiplication

 

One of my early fascinations, I think mainly simply because it was one of the tools available to me, was to create digital duplicates of myself. Sometimes these images express a duplicity of ideas, with the two that hold up best contrasting a shy and physically comfortable version of myself, and a hairy and hairless pairing (reflecting as you may have picked up, my then not entire comfort with having body hair). Others were less creative, and seem like fairly pedestrian effects now.

Close-Up

 

Another subject of great fascination to me in this early exploration period was extreme close-ups of body parts. I suppose I was learning my own body, in way that photography and nudism allow in a unique combination. Like the multiplied images above, these seem almost a cliche of a beginner self portraitist now, but some of the images remain fascinating.

Learning Light

 

The work from my first year or so of experimentation was mainly reliant on natural light. But I did also begin to experiment with artificial light, including light painting and multiple exposures (cliche once more!).

The most successful of these experiments though came from simply trying to control light, resulting in some beautiful abstraction.

Evolving style

 

By the time I got a better camera, I had a growing sense of how I express myself photographically. As you can see these one offs, I have started to move toward the stillness and rigidness that so often characterises my work. 

Over time I have increasingly used wide-angle lenses, and that began with a cheap fisheye lens, and these first experiments.

As above, more often I was starting to create work in small series, with much greater consistency of style and formatting than I was doing before.

After this time my work increasingly focused on university projects, and shooting other people. When I have done self portraiture, it has been in the form of more strongly defined series. The era of rampant experimentation seems to have closed, but it has delivered me at a place I am very happy with.

All content © James Grigg, 1992-2020, unless otherwise noted.