If I were in high school today I don’t know with what tribe I would be associated. Geek? Nerd? One of the bullied? We didn’t have the current set of labels there are now, so hence, not many tribes to choose from. In our local colloquial lexicon there were Jocks, Preps, Greasers, or the general nondescript. It doesn’t look like it but my look somewhat blended in with the times. Hair was ugly and fashions either very specific or deconstructed. I think I was in the hazy gray of nondescript. No real way to describe except through behavior.
I was a high school newspaper photographer. Through my camera lens I was able to float between the different groups at my school. I was pretty much accepted as the guy with the camera. And when my pictures appeared in the school newspaper, I got more attention and to some degree acceptance.
I discovered art photographers pretty early. There were photo magazines available on the newsstands that even a minor could buy that all sort of adult, intellectual photo content – from nudes to social commentary. These magazines influenced me more than anything. They got me out of pubescent malaise and showed me a larger world of photography, art and thought.
The idea of a self portrait was not new to me, I learned about them in art class. But making one with a camera was new ground. Even in the 1970s, photography was not universally accepted as fine art. Despite all the art being created by photographers at the time it was tough time sledding for art photographers. Self portraits were a genre that would be in a controversial area. After all, isn’t all art (and photography) in the end a self portrait?
When I took this photo of myself I had already done a lot of self portrait drawings in my art class. My art teachers were cautiously supportive of my photography interest. It was an emotional and painful time in my teen years. I was in the prime time of discovering myself, unsure of myself, doubted my artistic integrity.
I took this picture as an experiment. But as a lot of experiments in art they become and insight or statement. I think the pathos of this self portrait captures the stoic countenance of a callow teen on the way to the long road of self discovery.
About this Image
At the time I co-owned a Twin Lens Reflex camera with a close fiend. I used lager film and had a built-in self timer, so I could take pictures in private.
I used Tri-X film.