Representation and portraiture can be explored in photography in different forms, in the amount of control exhibited by the photographer. In some of the portraiture photography I’ve explored, which was created by Rankin, there appeared to be some negotiation in the way the subject was portrayed, however the control ultimately remained with the photographer. In response I wanted to look at a different example of portraiture, where the subject has more control over their own representation. It has been noted that when a subject can see themselves, it gives them a greater control over their own representation, so they can position themselves in a way which they feel comfortable with. Of course this does create a staged notion of representation which draws away from any naturalistic ‘decisive moment’ concept. However the idea of capturing a fleeting moment does contain it’s own problems, if the photographer isn’t familiar with the subject, they can produce a representation that is very different from what the subject would want.
The photo booth is a discourse we as quite familiar with as a society, perhaps predominately because the images from a photo booth are used to for passports and other forms of image identification. However the dynamic has been incorporated into different parts of society, with photo booth businesses providing a source of entertainment at parties and many artists taking on the characteristic aesthetic of the photo booth in their own material. Boothnation is a business that has taken the concept of the photo booth and has expanded it’s potential to cater for anything from normal parties to fashion shows and celebrity events. The booths are an installation in which the subjects are free to create their own representation within the parameters of the photo booth dynamic. For celebrities and normal people, the booth creates an equality in the practice of being photographed and representing themselves photographically. It gives the subject a neutral environment and the ability to see themselves being photographed, meaning they can take the time to represent themselves in a way they feel comfortable with. But in addition, it removes the pressure of the photographer and any uncomfortableness the subject might feel, so in a way they can be themselves in front of the camera because they know they aren’t being watched by another person.
There are different backgrounds that the Boothnation company can offer the subject, but the usual set up is a black or white background with high key beauty lighting. This idea of freedom in front of the camera, in front of a neutral setting is a concept I could really explore with my own project. I want to build on the structure of the photo booth, linking it to the idea of image identification and use it as part of my project.
The conventional photobooth photograph is a person facing the camera and striking a pose, I decided to go to a photobooth and do just that. However shown in the image below I also chose to have my back facing the camera for an alternative view. I had the idea of making a series of photobooth images which depicted the back of me instead of the front of me, to play on the convention of the photo as identification. It would also play on the idea of the photobooth allowing the participant to have full control over their representation in this seemingly neutral environment. Although I did really like this idea, it strays away from the concept of considering social media to be an expression of self. This project idea aims to challenge the portrait as a method of identification using the creative control of the photobooth dynamic. I really want to pursue this project idea however I have made the decision to choose the Instagram profile idea for this coursework because it links in very well to my dissertation idea.