As I've gotten older I've become a better model. Partly because of the experience posing for others, partly because of taking photos of others and partly from posing for myself. I have the experience behind me to be good at this. But I also have the experience to recognize bullsh*t. This has been an issue several times especially when dealing with people posing me in water. I state very clearly I have years of experience working in water and yet somehow the photographers like to think they know better than me about the subject. I've gotten hypothermia more times than I can count during shoots and I hold my tongue because I want artists to successfully achieve their vision. BUT I am and do get pissed off that my initial comments about the temperature are waved off and/or ignored. Or worse yet, I am treated as if I am being a wuss. When the truth of the matter is I know more about hypothermia and have more experience with it than they usually do. When I say it's two minute water I mean it. After two minutes the body is going to take a long time to return to proper temperature. When I say it's five minutes water I actually know what I'm talking about. I am very familiar with the signs and symptoms of hypothermia. And I am also familiar with my personal limitations within having it. But once a certain point has been crossed the brain stops working properly and thinking is impaired, judgment/decisions/ability to ask or recognize you need help is impaired. Getting hypothermia one day makes getting it the next day that much easier. So three days shooting in and out of a cold creek will lower the bodies ability to maintain heat for as long as it did on the first day.
As an artist or photographer that works with living breathing human beings it's important to be knowledgeable about such things. Me, the 35 year old doesn't let photographers being ignorant of hypothermia slide anymore. Me, the model having over ten years experience working in water tries to help other models be more educated about the realities of posing in water.
What does this have to do with self portraits?
When I'm doing a self portrait session I am more likely to do things that I would hesitate to do during a regular photo shoot. I'm working on my own artistic vision as a photographer, as a artist, as a model. I'm creating something that, for me, usually has an emotional meaning or an intended emotion I am trying to convey. It's often therapeutic. I'm trying to tell my story not someone elses' version of me, not someone elses' perception of who I am, not someone elses' part for me to play. I play the part well, I bring my "A" game during photo shoots with photographers but it's not the same. Letting myself go in truth of myself verses becoming someone else.
Don't misunderstand, I like becoming someone else for shoots. It's acting and it's fun and it's necessary. And I do a good job. But much more often than not people want pretty. And of course I like pretty, I appreciate pretty, I enjoy looking at pretty. Pretty models, pretty photos, pretty artwork, pretty flowers. BUT pretty doesn't pull me around day after day. Pretty doesn't speak to me half as loud as soulful does. And what speaks to a soul it personal, built from a lifetime of experiences. It comes from the inside out. And my insides aren't flowers and unicorns. When I walk through an art gallery the pieces that stick with me, the pieces that pull me in aren't usually the happy smiling people or the pretty tree on the hill. It's the bleak tree in the storm, the weeping widows, the sad, darker imagery that speaks to my soul. This is what I am trying to achieve in my current self portraits, a sadness.
What did the hypothermia and water stuff have to do with it you ask. I am more willing to be cold, wet and chilly during my self portrait sessions to achieve my vision. I am more willing to run back and forth across sharp sand to get my vision. BECAUSE I know when I've succeeded and because I'm not on a time line I can stop after getting the shot, I can stop if it's too cold, too sharp or not worth the cut feet. I've never gotten hypothermia during a self portrait session. When I'm in control I don't have to worry about being an irresponsible or a "bad wussy model" if I call it because it's too cold out or if the location is too buggy, sharp, etc. There is less stress, less anxiety, less trying to figure out what someone else wants. All around it's just easier, more relaxed, plus I'm working on my own artist project.
So I enjoy modeling for photographers. Some more than others. And I enjoy modeling for myself too. But there are definitely some different sides of me that come out when I pose for my self vs posing for someone else.