Friedlander selfie

Above: A self-portrait taken by Lee Friedlander. Credit: Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Cable Released

In a way, every Instagram selfie is a performance to camera. So it's a very common way of making pictures. One way of evolving the performance to camera as a mode of creative photography is to give up the smartphone and replace it with some different technical kit. First (as for all proper photography), get a camera that has full manual control over the two functions of shutter-speed and aperture. Second, mount this camera onto a sturdy metal tripod--go for the heaviest one you can find and expect to pay a bit more than £19.99. (Cheap tripods are easy to find and are a complete waste of money.) Third, the magic piece of kit: a long shutter-release cable, or Bluetooth-type remote-control shutter-release (self-timer shutter-release is also possible). Whatever accessory or connector you use, it should enable you to roam-and-stray a minimum of five-metres from the lens of your camera.

Set up your camera on the tripod in a space ("location") that is of interest to you. Now, connect the shutter-release cable, and move in front of the camera--flip out your camera's LCD screen so that you can monitor your work as you go.

You could plan-out how you will perform to the camera by writing down in your sketchbook some cues and ideas. Or, just work spontaneously. You might take inspiration here from photographer Duane Michals: "That whole arena of one's experience, grief, loneliness, [or] how do you photograph lust? I mean, how do you deal with these things? This is what you are, not what you see. I could do all my work sitting in my room. I don't have to go anywhere."

(29 December 2018)