Charcoal Self Portrait

When first approaching this project for photos I had something else entirely in mind. I was striving for something deeper than what was personal. The project had begun to feel impersonal as I first had the photos taken of me. I did not know how I should pose or what expression to wear. Then, after wanting to essentially give up on anything I felt a connection to I experimentally took some photos of my face up close.

One of my favorite photos was of my eyes, hence the reason it was chosen. Eyes have always been a favorite body part of mine on anyone. They have the most personal meaning for me. You can see someone’s mood, thoughts and sometimes story in his or hers eyes. In other words, eyes have always intrigued me. It was not just the eyes that I loved about this photo, however. It was also the diagonal sweep of the hair which accented and even exemplified the tilt of the eyes. It allowed for an open, diagonal composition.

Going back to the charcoal portrait from high school the eyes, or at least the one that is most visible was also a chosen focal point for me. The hair accents the slight tilt of the head however this composition is not as dramatic as the more current portrait. I am placed in the center of the photo with not as much diagonals nor is there as much of an open composition. The viewer’s eyes might just sweep down the face and glimpse things but in there is little to lead the eyes back up the photo.

In the more recent photo, with just my eyes, I was able to do something more original than in high school. I have created more of a sense of motion with a smaller part of the face. The little high lights that there are accent those areas nicely and add an interesting contrast to the darker colors. While the eyes are looking out of the photo, they are not looking right at the viewer. It can leave to the imagination what the subject in the portrait is looking at or thinking because the viewer receives little information of the rest of the face.

Compared to my skills in high school, in college I have learned how to create a better composition. To know what will bring the viewer’s eyes along the photo or leave them in one place longer than another. The one issue that is still being worked on is the sensitivity to the change in contrast. My college portrait, because it is a close up, forced me more than the one in high school to actually look at the lighting more and try to have it as accurate as possible. Since high school my skills with charcoal and portraits in general has come a long way.

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