Self Portrait Photography – Vivian Maier

Self portraiture is a photographic element which has been around since the invention of photography and before that it would be replicated in paintings.

However, self portraiture has taken a new turn within the 21st century with the use of ‘selfies’ escalating quickly as technology becomes more pronounced and inevitable in everyday life.

I researched into the use of self portraiture throughout the years, looking at different styles and photographers who have made a difference to how self portraiture has changed.

Vivian Maier

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier

 Vivian Maier’s work is a perfect example of self portraiture and also how the use of self portraiture has influenced the modern day phenomenon of ‘selfies’. in Vivian’s work she has captured herself through the use of mirrors, windows and anything else that could reflect her own image.

vivian maier

The above image is a perfect example of how her photography has influenced the modern day images that are all over the internet today. In this image Vivian can be seen taking an image of herself in front of a reflective window, but you are able to see the camera very clearly, a process which many people use today to gain an image of themselves. This technique is used throughout modern society with celebrities across the globe copying the style of Vivian Maier. An example of this is below with pop sensation Miley Cyrus copying the same method of in mirror portraiture.

Miley Cyrus uses the same method as Vivian Maeir.

Miley Cyrus uses the same method as Vivian Maeir.

Other examples of Vivian’s work are as below.

Vivian captured in a mirror.

Vivian captured in a mirror.

Selfie of two.

Selfie of two.

 As you can see a lot of Vivian’s work was processed in black and white; however the occasional colour image was produced as well.



Aperture, DOF and Focal Length


The aperture can be referred to as the size of the hole inside the camera lens. The aperture can be adjusted to control the amount of light that is reaching the film or image sensor that is inside of the camera. Aperture can be combined with shutter speed to regulate the film or image sensor’s degree of exposure to light, much like how the enlarger controls light exposure when working within the dark room. In most typical situations a fast shutter will require a larger aperture to help control the light and ensure sufficient light exposure whereas a slower shutter speed will require a smaller aperture so to not over  expose the image and let too much light through the lens.

The lens aperture is referred to as F-stops. The lower the F-stop, e.g. F-2, means a greater opening of the aperture which allows more light through the lens. The higher the F-stop, e.g. F-32, the smaller the opening of the aperture which means less light is let through the lens.

Depth of Field

Depth of Field can be referred to as the distance between the nearest and farthest images within an scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

If you require the whole image to be sharp than a large depth of field is required to make sure that everything within the image is in focus and easy to see.

If you require a certain object or person to be in focus but the rest of the image to be blurred than you need a small depth of field. A small depth of field means that one thing is focused on within the image which is beneficial when wanting to pull the viewers eye to something.

A large focus is often called a deep focus whereas a small focus is called a shallow focus.

Focal Length

The focal length of a lens determines the magnification at which it images distant objects.

In photography, longer focal length leads to higher magnification and a narrower angle of view. A shorter focal length is associated with a wider angle of view and less magnification.

As part of our workshop we practiced taking images with different size apertures, shallow and deep depth of field and different focal lengths.

Here is one of the portrait images I managed to capture.


F-Stop 5.6, Exposure time 1.30 of a second , Focal Length 105mm

This image was shot using F-stop 5.6. This means that I had my aperture open pretty wide which meant a lot of light was let through my lens. This was needed as it was a very dark and cloudy day so more light exposure was needed to create a sharper image.

In this image I have a shallow depth of field. This was done so that my background was blurry which meant the viewers eye was drawn to the face of my model only and nothing distracts the image. I exposed my image for 1/30 of a second which meant I had a fast shutter speed will helped control the light through my large aperture.

Class Practice16102014_2

F- Stop 5.6, Exposure time 1/125 of a second, Focal Length 70mm

This image is a good example of a very shallow depth of field. In this image I have focused on the blue flag as it is the most vibrant colour and draws the viewers eye in straight away.

I shot this image with F- Stop 5.6 again due to the weather conditions not changing and still needed a lot of light through my lens to get a sharp and in focus image. It is effective as the main focus of the image is the blue flag however you can also see the rest of image which makes the photograph cohesive and easy to understand what it is of.

Abstract Photography

The definition of Abstract Photography

“Like abstract art, abstract photography concentrates on shape, form, colour, pattern and texture. The viewer is often unable to see the whole object. The subject of the photo is often only a small part of the idea of the image.

Abstract Photography was a new form of photography for me and after extensively researching I found some images which really enthused me.

These images are:

abstract oranger


All of the images captured my eye due to the colour and realistic values that each photographer has been able to put to their images. Both images have vibrant colour to them and even though you can only see a small part of the fruit that is in the image it still manages to capture a high quality and create well presented content.

When taking my image I wanted to keep the same reality and depth to my image but still managing to fill the image with vibrant colour as was in my research images.

The image I took was :

Abstract Doughnut

Abstract Doughnut

As you can see in this image I have only captured a small part of the food but still been able to show the viewer what this food is meant to be. I have tried to incorporate colour into the photograph through the use of the doughnut sprinkles. If I was too further the quality of this image I would use an application such as Photoshop which would enable me to change the brightness and contrast of the photograph which would further the brightness of my colour and make it more eye popping.