Thank you very much for your replies. I understand what a self portrait is, and why people do it. The reason why I asked this question, is because various people have done self-portraiture to understand themselves better and to explore their identity. It can be questioned whether Cindy Sherman did self portraiture to explore her own identity, as she's said herself that isn't really 'her' n the picture. Is this then really a matter of exploring her own identity, or is it just to highlight a more wide issue with women and society? (then again it can perhaps be argued that since she obviously cared about this issue, then it would be part of who she was as well)
When is it that photographers use it to explore their identity, and not that it's just a matter of narcissism?
Photography, like any other art, is a form of communication that isn't restricted by the rules we have on the spoken language. As such, one is able to describe himself/herself as they wish in just one photograph, without having to write an entire essay. You've probably heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words", well, in reality, it's worth so much more, since you could include in a picture what you can never say. Even something as minor as the look in your eyes can say a lot about you. In an essay about yourself, you have full control over what you say, and what you let on. In a self portrait, unless you're really good at hiding things, you probably let out more than you initially want about yourself. That being good or bad thing depends only on you.
Personally, I've done only 2 photos that are meant as self portraits to describe me.
MichaelRowlandsonFeatured By OwnerDec 9, 2012Professional Photographer
Breaking down on what photography is, we come to discern that it is a form of language. So when one takes a self portrait they are trying to describe themselves in a manner of speaking. From the cloths they wear to their facial expression we read what is happening within the image and try to get an understanding of what it is they are trying to say weather it be a statement, opinion or concept about themselves.
As decades past film photography slowly disappeared like the city of Troy into dessert sands and was long lost the invention of digital photography and social media have played a big role on to how one uses a self portrait to portray themselves. To this day facebook and the Display picture play a very important role on self portraiture.