Self Portrait – I am an Ironman

Posted on February 10, 2012


I have just made a self portrait to be included in the ‘I am an Ironman’ series. It is interesting making self portraits. One puts oneself in the position of the subject, so that all the uncertainties that this entails are experienced personally by the photographer.

My subjects often ask me what I want them to do….I generally answer just act naturally but don’t smile. It seems that a smile relegates a  photograph to the realms of the ‘snapshot’ rather than a serious photograph. The issue here is I believe one of attempting to photograph people without them putting on a front or pose so that the real person is revealed. Personally, I think that the only way to do this is through candid photography and then all you get is the ‘real’ surface. All posed portraits must entail an element of posing by the subject.

I understand that Richard Avedon used to be very confrontational with his subjects. His use of a plain background and frontal poses is in its nature confrontational – seems like I  have adopted the same formal approach. Avedon apparently did not converse with his subjects – he used to stand without speaking, staring at them. On occasions he would say something to knock his subjects off balance. My approach is to try to put my subjects at ease but at the same time try to maintain some distance. This is a difficult skill to learn – I am still learning.

When posing for the self portrait I tried to concentrate on looking into the camera and remaining relaxed….here is the result.

Keith Greenough, UK, Ironman Triathlete, M60-64