I find creative self-portraits to be incredibly tricky to pull off. By that, I mean photos that go beyond the vain, clout-driven selfies that flood social media. I’ve always been impressed with photographers who manage to transform themselves into different characters to tell thought-provoking stories. It’s one thing to use portraiture to build a narrative, and another to star in your own show, so to speak.
Upon discovering the work of Dallas-based, Polish self-portrait artist Angelika Ejtel, I also realized that self-portraits can also take us on a journey to self-discovery — exploring our dreams, fears, emotions and rumination. She considers her work to be poetry in images, and her ongoing series “The Art of Reflection” definitely fits the bill.
Channeling “The Art of Reflection”
According to Ejtel, the series took its title and inspiration from the book of the same title by Marsha Meskimmon which explores women artists’ self-portraiture in the 20th century. To make this series her own, she turned to her desire to explore the different sides of her self.
“I wish to experiment with all kind of surfaces to reflect my selves. A journey into surreal worlds of the soul.”
Using mirrors to literally and figuratively play with the idea of reflection, Ejtel is able to illustrate her thoughts and perspectives of the many different versions of the self, alongside self-discovery and self-expression. Her choice to present her work in sepia and monochrome reminiscent of wet collodion photography heightens the emotive nature of her ideas by bringing our attention to composition and contrast.
The art of creative self-portraits
At a time where many photographers are still confined to shooting at home, I’ sure a big portion of us have no choice but to do self-portraits or at least consider it. I also understand that it may not be easy for photographers to stand in front of the camera instead of behind it.
Still, I look at the works of self-portrait artists like Ejtel and I am amazed at how much trust they put in themselves to execute their concepts and ideas. Since the visual style she chose for her work also includes the flaws and quirks distinct to wet collodion photography, her focus isn’t on technicality, but her message. It doesn’t have to be perfect. All it needs is to be a genuine expression of multiplicity of “selves” in all of us.
“I consider my photographic creation as a poetic experience in which I drown and infuse myself and, as a result, it gives me the feeling that I am reborn with each portrait into a new being. Although, all of my photographs are self-portraits, they shouldn’t be necessarily read as self-presentations, rather they should be revealed as the multiplicity of ‘selves’ available to one individual. To put it succinctly, my attitude toward the self is more of an exploratory journey between an awareness of self and an unawareness of some aspects of oneself.”
Don’t forget to visit Angelika Ejtel’s Behance portfolio to see more of her work.
All photos by Angelika Ejtel. Used with Creative Commons permission.