Monday, August 16, 2021

Check That Box...


Portrait of Man in Decline...           Photo: © Stan Banos

Don't know about you, but I've never been comfortable with the way I look. Some people are-  no matter what they may particularly look like, and I kind of envy them. I would never be able to look upon myself on a billboard or a movie screen- a computer monitor proves difficult enough. Yet, most people regardless of their physical attributes relish the very sight of themselves- the bigger the better, often in more ways than one!

The past (now almost) two years have been difficult enough trying to find things to photograph, with vacant streets all around and travel so strictly limited; many a photographer has been searching for subject matter. I've taken my share of pandemic related photos, even tried my hand at stitching a coupla digital panoramics here and there; and now in this indecisive, are we winning yet scenario, the desperation continues...

So I figured I'd try and take on my personal photographic taboo- the self portrait. I've now had a work smartphone for about half year- not one food shot or selfie to be found anywhere. But I got to thinking that I'm at the age where what I looked like for the vast majority of my life will (very) soon be permanently obliterated by the ravages of time, which granted, would not be that bad if only the resulting consequence isn't almost guaranteed to be... far worse. So, after decades of resistance, the challenge was finally accepted- create a portrait of yourself you would not be ashamed to include in your portfolio (more or less). 

I started with some evenly lit shots in my living/dining/bed room which had a distinct old, lost guy motif. Which might be a good theme in five or ten years, but the very antithesis of what I was presently trying to portray. Usually, I'd stop right there telling myself this is exactly why I never indulge this lost cause. Instead, I heard myself saying that this is just part of the learning curve, besides... the very reason you're doing this now is because there's little else left on the to do list at this particular time!

Then I somehow got to thinking about Rene Gelpi's portraits, and how only some 0.5% of my photographs are vertical. Yet another challenge. Could I somehow wrangle something worthwhile somewhere within those aesthetics? So I tried again... This time, I uhhh... switched venues, eventually stacking three books atop the toilet lid no less so I could get the needed elevation. And although I can't say I'm 100% satisfied (not even quite sure it's really in focus), the composition's fairly strong, and it at least strives for something more than just an adequate representation, which any worthwhile portrait should.

One thing became obvious in the process- the real time feedback of one of those side twisting, flippy screens would be infinitely helpful for this kinda project! And being that no one knows when this goddang thing will end (if only we had some magic cure that could nip it in the bud with a quick one-two), maybe (as in, maybe, but I really doubt it) I'll try it again to get everything down just right... just that- I'm really sick of looking at myself...

PS- The real artist is in the background- Julie Wilson!


  1. Stan, actually you look good. Like maybe an interesting person, etc. I like the hat. What's the wires stick in the back?? Take some more and post.

  2. Well, thanks. The stick is a broom. I may... maybe, but kinda doubt it- I should be putting in more time in restoring my damaged B&W negatives, but it's such grueling work it's hard getting back into that head again. Yes, like the hat, love the painting- but the real star is that '61 34mm Bulova automatic I picked up recently at a very reasonable price!