“Asking photographers to turn the camera on themselves is one of the rawest and most vulnerable places to be.”
As photographers we dedicate our lives to telling the stories of those in front of our cameras, revealing emotions and breaking through barriers to get to the core of a person, tapping into their vulnerability, their hopes, fears and dreams to create something with emotional resonance. In this process, we give up a lot of ourselves and many times ask a lot of our subjects in return. We do it because we truly believe in the value of that process and the final revealing for our subjects.
And yet, frequently, we hide behind the safety of our camera and are the most reluctant to submit ourselves to that experience. We are a generation of faceless storytellers, visually absent from the record of our own lives.
One group of DEFINE students has set out to change that for themselves.
In The Story of Me, a collective of photographers turn the camera on themselves each month and submit a self-portrait, along with a quote or caption that they feel captures the emotional quality of that image. The project just marked its one year anniversary, with a full 12 months of beautiful work on their blog, we thought it was the perfect time to celebrate their vision with you.
The group’s posts are a captivating and intimate peek into their emotional lives, their changing moods, self-image and what is important to them. Revealing and raw close-ups sit next to voyeuristic wide shots where the photographer is almost hidden from view. There is joy and hope and sadness and fear. Just like real life, there is no guiding theme, just the honesty of being.
As their ‘About Us’ page says “We hope you recognize a piece of yourself in one of the photos and breathe a little deeper knowing another soul is there too. We hope to make you a little uncomfortable like the stirring of something raw and vulnerable, because friends, asking photographers to turn the camera on themselves is one of the rawest and most vulnerable places to be. And lastly, we ask you to be kind to each other and yourself. True stories are hard to write.”
Below are images from and links to the artists currently collaborating in this powerful project…
Jasmin Cervantes is the newest contributor who has just joined the project and will be adding her images in the coming months.
Witnessing how our classes create sparks that grow into something lasting and meaningful, makes our hearts full and is what makes the DEFINE community special. We invite you to follow The Story of Me and draw your own inspiration from their work by clicking on their blog or Instagram feed and tagging your images with #thestoryofmeproject to share your own images.
If you are a DEFINE student who has a personal project inspired by your experience with us that you would like to share, we would love to hear about it. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
// featured image Tatiana Johnson