These self-portraits have been an interesting exercise, in that they represent a significant departure from my normal process of image-making. I typically approach photography in a relatively reactive way--I try to keep a camera on me most of the time, and if something catches my eye, I shoot it. Even my commercial portraiture works in mostly the same way; rather than trying to control a photo session, I instead choose a good location and time of day, then mostly just try to have a good time and see what happens.
Self-portraits, of course, don't work that way. Every image has to be constructed, and moreover it has to be visualized beforehand. That's not something I've had much experience with, and forcing myself to work in a more deliberate manner has been interesting. It doesn't have quite the same thrill as capturing a moment as it happens, but there's a certain feeling of craftsmanship to it that's gratifying.
I don't think I'm going to be completely switching to this new mode of shooting any time in the near future, but at the very least it's given me something to think about.
The first pass I took when editing this photo I used a much tighter crop, focusing just on the poster in the center. That was what had initially caught my eye, the poster, and the way the woman's hands and head were framed by the windows across the street. The common wisdom is that composition is as much about what you leave out as what you include, hence the tight crop. Still, something about that framing didn't work quite right for me--it just seemed incomplete. When I added back most of the original image, it struck me that not only did I like the couch, the vases, and the additional buildings in the reflection, but I also liked including myself. I like the idea of making the photographer's relationship with the image explicit.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40 and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens, in manual exposure mode. Aperture f/4, shutter 1/60 sec, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: cropped to 4x5; curves for highlight recovery and contrast.
Thoughts for improvement: The only thing that's bugging me about this one is the way that the neon sign's pull-cord intersects the wine glass on the poster.
All I can say is, dang, Juliette is a lucky woman.
Technical info: Shot with a Nikon D40, Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX lens, and Nikon SB-400 flash (bounced off the ceiling). Manual exposure mode, TTL flash mode (-2 EV). Aperture f/1.8, shutter 1/40, ISO 200. Post-processing in Aperture 3: WB adjustment; +1 exposure; curves for contrast; slight overall desaturation; further desaturated reds and yellows; retouched a sit on the side of my nose.
Thoughts for improvement: I've never been able to decide whether or not I like the fact that the auto-focus picked my glasses instead of my eyes in this one. But, honestly, the main thing I wish with this photo is that I had done something about my nose hair beforehand.