The Sunny 16 Self-Portrait Challenge

Yash Acros 396-4

A few weeks back, the Sunny16 Film Photography Podcast gang made good on their promise to explore more project-based content and launched their Self-Portrait Challenge. For the following three weeks, each of the hosts recorded their preparation for, and experiences of, creating a self-portrait.

It began with Rachel and her conversations with her friend and art teacher Stef, before exploring the history of the self-portrait with Rose Teanby. Finally, Rachel and Hilary Clarke recorded the process of actually taking pictures of themselves.

Next up, Ade got geeky with lighting and Instax and had an excellent conversation about the psychology of the selfie. Finally, Graeme took his shirt off and messed around with an inappropriate camera, lighting set-up and, on the evidence of the topless picture he produced, model.
Finally, there was a wrap-up where the hosts reconvened and discussed the results.

They were excellent shows, and quite different from any photography podcast (film or otherwise) that I’ve heard before. They encouraged the listener to think a little more about the end result and what they might hope to capture when taking a picture of ‘the model that’s always available’.

I’m really pleased that they gave up four episodes of the show to thoroughly explore the process in real depth. I have been slightly critical of the Sunnies in the past, as they occasionally give up whole shows to people who are only on to sell their product or service. I get that gear plays a part in our hobby but projects like this, that hopefully prompt people to get out and shoot, are far more important.

Listeners were encouraged to join in the project, taking their own self-portraits and recording their thoughts in audio clips. While I’m certainly not keen on being in front of the camera, I got involved after giving a little thought to how I might represent myself.

You can see the result at the top of the post (and the audio is above). I thought I’d include my hobbies in the picture, so I’m holding my Leica M6, I’m wearing headphones and my car is in the background. My beer gut is also in the image, so almost all of my interests are covered! I lit myself with an angle-poise lamp just out of view.
The picture was taken at twilight (a one second exposure at f/5.6) on a TLR using Fujifilm Neopan Acros, so ticking off another three of my favourite things.
I chose to stand in a window and look out at the camera to try to represent the frustration of wanting to get out and shoot far more often than I’m actually able to.

I’m quite happy with the resulting picture – it does everything that I’d hoped. However, I’m still not planning to spend more time in front of the camera than I absolutely have to.

I encourage you to listen to the shows (especially Rachel’s) and give it a try. Think about the end result and make sure that the picture means something and isn’t just a straightforward picture of yourself. Maybe the location, what you’re doing or wearing will be significant. Perhaps the equipment will be important. Even if the end result is not something you want to share, the process of planning and executing will help with your photographic practice.

Let me know how you get on…

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