Successful adventures in self-portraiture

Back around 2016 I was making quite a lot of self-portraits, as part of the first iteration of Advanced Photo, and again in 2020 during the start of the COVID pandemic.  Recently reviewing those photos for the first time has inspired me to start again, I think due to the death of my mother.  It’s always a yardstick for me to measure where I’m at mentally and as this has been a trying time since December started; that’s what seems to bring it back up again.  Just recently Kodak’s Instagram account started a trend with #photographersonfilm which has included quite a few mirror selfies so at least I can say I was ahead of the curve there, but then again I haven’t really put any out there til now.

Ilford HP5+, Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford XP2 Super

These are different from the self-portraiture exhibited in this post.  It’s a completely different project and older.  Except for the ones with the cowboy hat.  But most of these are taken in the mirror, I’ve been doing that since 2016 at least, and always enjoy when I can get my camera in the shot as well.  There are occasions when I’ll ask someone to take a picture for me and how it usually works is they take a photo of me with their phone and I’d like one of myself with my own camera, or I just straight up ask them first.  Either way my rule is “My camera, my picture/Your camera, your picture.”  It’s sort of the movie director argument of having “creative vision.”  That though, has resulted in quite a few mishaps because even if I give my camera to someone older that should absolutely know how to use a film camera, they can usually figure out a way to screw it up:

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Looking critically at myself

In the last year I’ve been going through a bit of a lifestyle change, and working on improving myself.  Here are a few photos of me that were taken with my cameras sometime around 2017-2019, this seems to be pretty much my average look.

Now this is a photo that a coworker took of me in late 2019:

Now I have usually bought my jeans at thrift stores and balked at paying more than $10-12 for them.  I have usually been around a size 36 waist, but the end of 2019 I was shopping for more jeans and couldn’t fit in 36 anymore, and had to go up to 38; I weighed probably 220lbs.  I was a bit disappointed in myself, but knew that I would only allow it to be a temporary thing; it’s happened before and I got my weight down.  It was already happening in 2020 but accelerated a year ago when I took a construction job and ended up walking for probably 8-10mi per day.  I was able to get down quite a lot, and hit a personal milestone:

I’ve since dropped at least another 5lbs, perhaps 10.  Intermittent fasting has played its part as well: I don’t do too much in the winter and have been eating less without knowing it, but whatever weight I lose I usually put right back on in the summer when I’m eating all day long and it still seems like I’m drained of energy.  Well last year I was able to keep the food intake down, eat higher quality and at the regular hours that I needed them to be.  I’m not someone that is weight-obsessed or that will get on the scale every day, so I don’t know what I currently weigh; really fat percentage is much more important and hopefully I’ve built up a bit of muscle which will of course weigh more than fat anyway. But most importantly for me, I’ve taken a lot of fat off my waist in the last two years which has allowed me to drop down to size 34 jeans and keep it off for more than 6 months, a feat I haven’t achieved since I was 12 or so.  Here is that same pair of size 38 jeans today:


And also the pair of 34 Slim – my Indigo Invitational competition pair.  As it stands now I wonder if 33 Straight might have been a better fit but that will have to wait til next year!
Here are the most recent pictures of myself that I have:

So now I look back at those old pictures and I say to myself…Was I really that fat?  And at the same time I’ll look at new pictures of myself and say…Am I really that thin?  Life’s a process of change and I wouldn’t say that I’m satisfied with myself but I am happier than I was.  I know the obesity rate in the USA is disgustingly high and without wishing to be judgemental I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there wishing they could turn around their life, weight, eating habits, etc.  If you’re reading this I hope you will be encouraged because it is possible to change if you really want to.

RIP Rosco

Another of our drivers has passed unexpectedly, a new guy that started last year who went by the handle Rosco.  He’s been in a couple of photos that I published already but I recently went through all the shots I’d taken to see if I could find more.

There were no real portraits, I’m sorry to say.  We never really got the chance to talk or do too many tours together though I did get to hear him talk to people once or twice and seemed to be very knowledgeable.  RIP Rosco.

Evolution of style: Self-centered 2

2021 was the year that I started dressing better thanks to working a construction job: I would wear the same clothes every day without washing for a week, and they would get so grimy with concrete dust, that I just felt disgusting all the time, plus it was all kind of samey.  In my initial search for a good pair of steel toe work boots I started watching a lot of videos online, and mostly they were oriented toward fashion boots rather than work boots, but that gave me plenty of ideas for nice clothes that I could enjoy when I wasn’t wearing my construction gear.  That carried over into going back to the job I actually enjoy.  I have to thank Carl Murawski, Stridewise, Rose Anvil, and maybe one or two other channels on the youtube, plus facebook groups like the Alden Shoes Enthusiasts and Selvedge & Quality Supply.  A lot of the pictures that follow were ones that I took to post on one of those two groups; a few were mimicking the standard shots that get posted there but I do try to give them my own personal flair, and I’m sure I’m the only one shooting on film.

Most of all I was concerned with buying new items that were not made in China, but also staying away from companies that don’t offshore their production, and prioritized American-made wherever possible.  By October I could put together an outfit that was 100% Made in USA and I wear that most days.  Brands featured in these photos include: Stetson hats, Brave Star Selvage, Alden Boots, Schaefer Outfitters, Ruddock Shirts/Flying R Ranchwear, Sugar Cane jeans, Nama Denim, Legacy 92.  And this year there is another new pair of jeans from Brave Star plus a pair of White’s cowboy boots.

And since I was adding a lot of color to my look (thanks to the shirts) I started shooting more color film, also handy considering it was Fall.  It seemed to be at the start of the film shortage and I was going around to Wal-Marts and Walgreens in the area and buying up whatever stock they had of Fuji Superia and Kodak Ultramax.  I’m glad I did because it might be the last time I get to use Superia 400 since Fuji shut down their factory in 2020 and we still don’t know right now if they are reopening it or having other companies manufacture film for them from now on.

Self-centered

One of the aspects my peers criticized in my photo project was that there were hardly any pictures with me in them.  I’ve kept that in mind ever more frequently this year and either taken more selfies or had someone else hold the camera for me.  Hopefully I was successful in my attempt to add a bit of my own personal je ne sais quoi to these.

Film, in order: Fuji Superia 400, Kodak Ultramax 400, Ilford XP2 Super, Kodak BW400CN (exp.2008).

Summer 2021 on Ilford XP2 Super

After not being able to use the UCCS darkroom last year during the pandemic, I decided to patronize my local camera store a bit more, which has included buying/processing color negative film almost exclusively.  One thing I didn’t want was to be stuck with even more rolls of black & white that will either take a lot of money to be developed or will sit in my freezer until I can get back to developing at the university.  I still wanted to try to continue my current photo project for just a little bit longer and for that I decided to go chromogenic black & white.  Here are a few of the shots I took over the Summer:

I shot just a roll or two of BW400CN before Kodak discontinued it and man do I wish that Kodak would bring it back but I’m happy and thankful that Ilford is still here for us.  I would not say that XP2 is a worthy replacement for Tri-X but for what I needed I think it works well.  One thing that I noticed was that it behaved very much like a color negative film in that I think its true speed is not 400 but 200, so I tried to overexpose when I could.  The shadows can fall off really quickly and yet it is so flat when scanned.  That’s mostly good because I have never been thrilled with how black & white is scanned by the lab; it’s usually way too contrasty and if the exposure isn’t exactly perfect you’re losing quite a lot of information.  I prefer to scan myself at low contrast and dial it in on the computer, something that XP2 does nicely even when lab scanned.

I will eventually go back to Tri-X when I can develop it myself but for what it is and what I need right now I’m pretty happy to continue shooting Ilford XP2 Super.

Schoolroom shenanigans

It took almost 7 years when I started going back to college, but I did finally graduate.  I have a lot of memories, and also a lot of degrees…because I ended up getting a double minor (in visual arts emphasis on photography, and film studies).  But through it all I had my camera, especially since the first class I took was Intro to Photography, all the way back in Fall of 2013.  So here is a rather large gallery of memories, with many classmates I’ve known over my time at UCCS; I forget the names of some of them!

I don’t expect anyone else to get anything out of this, it’s more a self-indulgent nostalgia trip for me than anything.  Some of these were never published, some have been posted to Facebook only.  Thanks for the memories…