self as composite
Photo Communication, Goshen College

© Marvin Bartel, instructor. 1998. None of these materials may be published or copied in any form without prior permission from the author. Goshen Photography students have permission to print a personal copy. Others may request authorization by sending e-mail to:

Subject Matter   Film and Camera    Printing, Retouching, Mounting, and Presentation    Style   Theme and Meaning    Other Photographers and Artists whose work relates
Subject Matter   

Use yourself as the subject. You may wish to use an assistant to operate the camera, but you must direct each exposure. The camera's self-timer can be used. A 20-foot cable release can be borrowed.   

Use Photoshop to combine your image with images from other exposures to add symbolism, meaning, and identity. Feel free to include props that have meaning to you or that change the mood of the photograph. Since this is a composite, you may want to photograph the props separately from the self portrait. You may elect to show yourself as the opposite of your self. 

Film and Camera

Use a digital camera if possible. You may check out a digital camera at Instructional Technology (contact Pamela M Weishaupt at 7727 in advance). If you are Record or Maple Leaf staff you may have access to their camera. If a digital camera is not available, select any black and white or color film. If you use film, scan in the negatives and manipulate the images with Photoshop. Digital cameras give a resolution of 72. When you size the pictures to printable size save them at a resolution of at least 200 up to 300. 

Printing, Retouching, Mounting, and Presentation

Print this assignment using the laser printer. Make it as large as if you were printing on 8 x 10 paper. Send image files, regardless of file type, to the color laser using jpeg encoding found in the printing dialog box. Send files to the printer that have never been saved at a resolution less than 200.  Recommended resolutions are between 240 and 300 when sending to printer. Mount for exhibition fully enhanced and retouched. Make at least one final print. If using film, save records of metering and processing. Also turn in negs, trial prints, enhancement records, printing records, and so on.


Combine images from more than one exposure.  Work for interesting juxtaposition, unity, repetition, and theme with variation. See how unconventional you can make the photograph. What is the opposite of the expected portrait and composition? Work for expressive content.

Theme and Meaning

Try to show meaning, mood, historical reference, mythological reference, passage of time, the meaning of place, and so on. Include a statement, which shares some of your ideas. You can do this before, during or after the photography process. You may use prose or poetry for this. You are not required to display the statement, but you are encouraged to incorporate text in the image using Photoshop’s text command.

The following list of titles from a list posted on the wall by John Szarkowscki, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is offered to stimulate your imagination: My Childhood, Domestic Me, Masculine Me, Feminine Me, Body Scape, Somebody Acting as Me, One Part of My True Self, The Dark Side of Me, The Light Side of Me, My Alter Ego, My Message, Me the Perfect Date, My Big Problem, Me In A Mask.

Other Photographers and Artists whose work relates

Cindy Sherman makes a career of self-portraiture, often putting on costumes and makup in order to play a role. Diane Arbus photographed people seldom actually seen in public. Duane Michals makes a surrealistic juxtapositions with psychological meanings and/or humor. He made a self-portrait of a shadow of his own head and hands that looks like a duck. Robert Arneson was a clay artist who often used his own face as the subject of his cynical sculpture and drawings because he wanted to poke fun at people's mannerisms, but he didn't wish to offend another person. By using his own face he said he could be cynical without being offensive.


What is your film speed? _____

Lens focal length? _____

NOTES on shutter speed, lighting, aperture, Photoshop commands used, and printing option settings.

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