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Day 87: Why I Create Self-Portraits

As a fine art photographer, I create storytelling images that communicate emotion and meaning in the hopes of forming connections with others. When I began photography in 2013 I instantly gravitated towards self-portraiture, six years later I still choose myself as the model.

For those of you who are photographers, I am sure we have all worked with a model at some point in time. Whether that be clients that come to you, friends you coax into modeling, or yourself, we have all used a model at least once. It is an incredibly vital part of photography.

When I began my photography, I began with self-portraits. There were many reasons for this including the photographer who inspired me to start creating was a self-portrait artist and I was far to shy to ask someone to model for me. Six years after I began photography not much has changed. I have hardly used anyone else to model in my photos and if I have they have been either family or friends. While I am no longer too shy to ask someone to model there is something so special about using yourself in your creations.

My reasons now include the accessibility (I am literally always available) and the intimacy. The stories I create are often very personal. I tend to take an element from my life, whether that be a feeling or a memory, and weave it throughout the image. Because of this they mean a lot to me and being able to pose in them creates this sense of fulfillment.

Having someone else pose in a personal story could definitely create a special narrative, but when the story is personal it feels like a full circle when I pose for it.

I can become this character that allows this feeling, memory, story, etc. a place to rest. I embody it and present it to the world, transforming myself into something other than Lillian Merritt. It’s almost like I strip away my identity and the person in those photos are no longer me. They become a completely separate character with a beautiful and unique story line that contains part of me.

Self-portraiture creates a vessel for others. My hopes are that people witnessing the photos I have created will be able to see the character in them and reflect themselves onto her. No matter who is viewing the image, I hope they will be able to see themselves in it. Even if it’s only for a brief second.

I did not chose self-portraiture in order to see myself in photos, no, I chose self-portraiture in order to communicate personal stories in the hopes of allowing others to see themselves in the characters I create. What could be your reasons for choosing self-portraiture?

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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