To my surprise, over the course of the past year self portraiture has become part of my artistic practice. What began as a very tentative and conservative foray into taking pictures of myself is now an endlessly creative outlet for exploring ideas and personal expression.

My most recent foray into self portraiture builds upon a series of shots taken in the summer called “Burning” where I created the illusion of fire by playing around with sari fabric and in-camera blur. I’ve since decided to turn this into a larger series exploring the four elements, with water as the natural succession to fire.


The idea for the water images was inspired by the underwater portraits of Howard Schatz.I specifically had in mind his beautifully published book “Waterdance” which is now out of print but I was lucky enough to come across in a used bookstore. With “Floating” I sought to simulate the murkiness and lighting quality of underwater using textured fabric in front of the lens and a wavy lighting pattern falling on the black background.

Swimming to the surface Floating in darkness

I am fairly happy with the results from this shoot, but feel they could be stonger with a further exploration on the same theme. Stay tuned for the next attempt.

3 thoughts on “Elemental

  1. Maureen says:

    Rachel, I am glad to see you writing more about your self portrait process. You are an inspiration to me, as I have never had the courage (for reasons I don’t want to go into here…) — at least not yet — to do the same, though I would like to. Anyway, I am really truly enjoying your elements self portrait series and look forward to seeing more. I came to this blog post from your latest photo on flickr, which you say is an outtake. It’s always fascinated me that different people respond so individually to art. Your photo here ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/goddess_spiral/97782830/ ) is actually one I think I like best of all your “Floating” series. I will look at it again tomorrow and see if I can articulate why. In the meantime, don’t throw any of those out! [grinning as I write that]

  2. Rachael says:

    I’m hoping to write as much as possible about my work because it helps me to understand my process better. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    The silly self portraits I was refering to are the ones like “Scarves attack” which are goofy.

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