My Surreal Self
Alex Stoddard documents his life through 365 conceptual self portraits shot daily between school and homework.
This article was originally published in May 2011.
- Description To weave a series of everyday stories using a camera and the emotions of a teenager.
- Duration This is an ongoing project where I photograph myself in a different manner each day of the year.
- Notes A major reason for starting a 365-day project was to improve my shooting skills. In doing things that are new to me, and getting out of my comfort zone, I feel that I have indeed become better.
Following the discovery that cameras have uses other than producing profile pictures for social networking websites, I quickly took up the idea of attempting conceptual self portraits. I decided that not only would I toss myself into disturbing and metaphorical situations in front of the lens, but I would do it each and every day for one year. The decision came as a whim and I implemented it almost 250 days ago.
Still immersed in my personal 365-day project, I aim to produce thought-provoking, whimsical images to illustrate each day’s swirl of emotion. Whether it is a blank stare to depict apathy for the world around me or a scowl of contempt, I capture it all.
My eye is always at work, moving from object to person to cloud to tree to ground, back to the object once again. I seize every sensation around me, as it provides creative inspiration for me.
I like surrealism and also the way in which humans share a direct connection with the world around them. Nowadays, several people seek to bury the relationship that humans once held with the environment. Others pretend that we were not once primal beings prowling the earth and instead turn toward innovation and improvement.
I like to revert to the simplicity of the time when humans and nature were one.
I shot the majority of the project by myself, on location and in natural spaces. This included the forest behind my home and the privately-owned field whose owners have chased me off with a shotgun. Making self-portraits is just as much about creating art as it is a time to introspect, especially when I am alone with the camera.
That is not to say that I do not enjoy the help of my friends and family when they choose to be involved. Often, they provide an aiding hand in building a set or contributing a certain effect—a recent example was when they dumped a bucket of icy water over my head in the middle of winter, as the picture demanded it!
My Equipment: I use a Nikon D3000 and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens. They were the only equipment I could afford as a beginner. I recommend a similar camera-lens combination to any newcomer—whether the person seeks interesting fashion shots or just around the- house pictures.
Start Your Own 365-day Project
- Do not be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
- Push yourself. Do not be content with half-creating the photo.
- Do not stop shooting until you convey what you saw in your head. Keep repeating the idea until you perfect it. It will definitely be worth the effort.
- Lastly, it is your project, so have fun with it!
To see more of Alex’s creative self-portraits, visit flickr.com/photos/alex-stoddard