Dean O'Brien's Blog

Book Review, Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography by Susan Bright

with 5 comments

As photographers, when people mention self portraits its not long before people mention Cindy Sherman and her work, in particular ‘film stills’.  Yes, I have been a great admirer of her work for many years but I do think that it tends to overshadow the work of other artists who do self portraits.  She seems to be to self-portraits what Ansel Adams is to landscape photography.

When I heard Chino Otsuka talk (Blog post here) in Coventry last year I was starting to realise that there are many other photographers out there who are doing self portraits.

I recently managed to get hold of a book called ‘Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in  Contemporary Photography’ by Susan Bright.  For anybody even remotely interested in self portraits then this book is a must.  The book features the images of seventy five of the worlds foremost contemporary photographers. To compliment the images, there is a brief explanation about what the artist was trying to say.  As with all books such as this they lead us to look at the work of other photographers.  I found the self portraits of Airyka Rockefeller and Ananke Asseff the most inspiring.  Their self portraits seemed to reflect a state of mind.  Something maybe not so easy to encapsulate within an image.  Very thought provoking indeed.

Self portraits are not something which I have based much of my work on.  As a photographer, my instant reaction is to pick up the camera and point it at my subject rather than at myself.  This book however has inspired me to embark on such a task.  Yes, I intend to do a series of self portraits.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

October 31, 2010 at 4:02 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks for the review Dean, I will have to pick this book up. I never think of shooting myself but it would be a good challenge to take on.

    mindymilburn

    October 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm

  2. Yes Mindy the book is a real eye-opener. You will find plenty of inspiration inside here.

    Dean O'Brien

    October 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  3. Dean

    Be yourself and do what you want to do. The only way you will ever improve as a photographer is to use your inner eye and stop copying everybody else. Cuckoo

    rick medlock

    October 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    • Rick its not a case of copying everybody else its a case of experimentation. If that means me drawing on other peoples experiences and letting them influence me then so be it. In fact, I can’t think of anything more original than a self portrait as that really is unique to you and nobody else.

      Dean O'Brien

      October 31, 2010 at 10:24 pm

  4. Hello Dean what a coincidence! I have this book too!
    I have ideas for self portraits too.
    check this link out too of a fine art photographer from Brighton doing self-portraits. She is self-taught!
    http://www.missaniela.com/

    Chris Alford

    January 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm


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