These self-portraits came about because I set out to take one photo of myself holding a mug of coffee to finish my Coffee Dates page, when halfway through I looked down at myself and realized I had been wanting some creative portraits that really feel like me and I happened to be already be wearing an outfit I love.
I had been aware for awhile that I needed a visually cohesive and truly resonant gallery of photos to use for my social medias and website — so essentially, branding photos — but I was struggling with calling them “branding” photos because making myself a “brand” feels weird. I think a lot of creatives struggle with this. When you’re trying to make a living based on creative work you pour yourself into, your work is essentially an extension of your own self. There is a ton of pressure that can come with this sometimes — I know I’ve felt it, and deeply.
When life and grief and healing and growth change you, change how you engage with the world… your art changes. And you wonder if that will make people like your work less, because what if that’s not what they signed up for? What if one of the things you pride yourself on — like a unique ability to seek and capture joy — feels impossible for awhile because you’re struggling with your mental health? Does it mean you’re an imposter, or that you’re bad at your craft now?
It doesn’t — it never does. Being touched and transformed by grief and life and growth make us into more deeply feeling, compassionate, understanding human beings. And so they make our art more resonant to more people, because it unearths a new kind of depth that wasn’t there before. Remembering this reminds us that our brands, if anything, will be human and imperfect and messy and evolving. Embracing it matters. And having photos to document that humanity and imperfection and evolution is a necessary and beautiful thing.
So, these are branding photos, but they’re also just self-portraits. Self-portraits I poured myself into, that really feel like me, that I think represent the person I am now. Taking these and editing them made me reconnect with why my approach to creative & branding portraits is the way it is — connection-driven, authentic, nostalgic. The portraits we have of ourselves as creatives represent some of the most hard-won and deeply authentic aspects of our lives.
I honestly wish you could have seen me taking these portraits. I don't have my tripod here with me in Paris, so at one point my camera was precariously balancing on top of a big stack of books and I had a stool, a bowl, a paper towel roll, and a box of Ritz crackers stacked on the bed so I could have a stand-in to focus the camera. The best part was that I was able to embrace the massive vulnerability of getting portraits taken because it was just me and my camera — and I ended up with the most resonant portraits I've ever had of myself. Taking these changed how I think about branding photos and creative portraits for the better, and it reaffirmed so much of what I believe about the relationships between photography and connection and vulnerability and healing.
I hope you enjoy these. Thank you for being here.
June 2022 — Paris, France