There has been a lot of talk about self portraits this week (check out the Ultimate Guide to Taking Self Portraits and enter our recent Challenge: Self Portrait) so we thought we would dig a little deeper and sit down with one of our creators who specializes in self portraiture, MASTER | Madeline Dignadice.
Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? What are you passionate about? What do you do when you are not photographing?
I am a fine art photographer currently based in San Francisco. I am originally from Santa Clarita, CA but moved to the city to study fine art photography at the Academy of Art University.
I am passionate about experiencing life and sharing it through art. I'm aware of every emotion I am feeling so I can capture it and share it, hoping to connect to others through my art.
When I am not photographing myself or nude friends, I am outside walking around or indoors watching films. I believe watching films help photographers understand putting emotions into the visual. For a simple shot in a film like "In the Mood for Love" that has an amazing composition can say so much without the words to guide you towards a feeling.
How did you get started in photography?
I thankfully fell into photography, first as a hobby but soon became a passion and a way of self-expression for me. I received an athletic scholarship for cross country and track from the Academy of Art University, and I chose to study photography because it sounded the most interesting to me. Years later, I am very happy I made that choice because this medium has shaped who I am today. I use photography as a way to understand myself. I have trouble verbally communicating how I feel and so I turn to photography to just document what I feel. It isn't until after, I can start to see and understand what is really going on within.
Playing with light, color, and movement your self portraits are emotional and curious. What is your inspiration?
My biggest inspiration for self-portraits is Francesca Woodman and Nan Golding. Two very different styles but both very impactful. Francesca Woodman created this dark and intimate world within her images. I feel as if she really documented her emotions, often using motion blur. Her images carry this sadness you can feel within yourself as if we are getting an intimate view of her mind. For Nan Golding, her style was more documentary but just as intimate and emotional. Showing you more details that were easier to understand on the surface but challenges the viewers to take a real look into someone's life.
Why self portraits? Why use yourself instead of a model?
I tend to photograph myself when I feel like I'm losing myself; when I'm forgetting who I am. It's odd, but when I photograph models it is when I am trying to express how I feel but when I photograph myself it is in search for myself. I believe that we are all highly influenced by the people the social media we surround ourselves with. I have to remind myself of who I am and I go back to my "roots", setting up my camera and self-timer creates a space that is totally free and allows me to be totally vulnerable.
Do you have any advice or tips for fellow photographers who want to take self portraits?
-Photograph yourself alone and make space for yourself. Move the furniture around, follow the natural light that is leaking into the room and set up your camera.
-Play with the space around you. Due to my small SF apartments, a lot of my self-portraits were in a corner next to a window. That confined corner let me be creative with the two walls around me. Challenging me to try new things for different shots.
-Use your wardrobe or not at all! I like to photograph myself with loose and flowy fabrics. This is another element for you to interact with and adds to the simple details of your image. Or use your body in various poses from different angles, don't be afraid to get close to the camera.
- I usually put on some of my favorite records when shooting anything! When I am taking self-portraits I usually listen to slower music that helps me slow down and work through the process.
Self portraits are easily dismissed when there are nothing but “selfies” on Instagram and Snapchat, but it truly has been a popular form of expression ever since man first saw his own reflection (Oh hey - Narcissus!) From Van Gogh to Ansel Adams, to extreme conceptual artists like Cindy Sherman, self portraiture has become a way to express personality, share your story, explore one’s self, or to play the part of someone else.
Left to Right - Self Portraits by: Ansel Adams, Cindy Sherman, Frida Kahlo
Photographers often use the excuse that we are awkward in front of a camera and that is why we are behind it. For some of us, this is definitely true… just kidding! :) Self portraiture does not have to be glamorous - it simply has to be you. And if you are “awkward” be someone else in your self portrait. Be honest, we’re all a bit self-conscious about having our photo taken, but with self portraits you are in complete control.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:
Location & Composition:
What does your location say about you? Like taking a photo of someone else, composition and location are just as important. The best part is you already have so many spaces that are particular to just you - your bedroom, your bathroom, your favorite park, any place you find personal already exists. Maybe you are a private person and do not want to share those spaces, conceal it with anonymity and use that as part of your expression.
Composition of your image will help make it stronger than just a “selfie.” You do not need to be directly in front of the camera. Experiment with different angles and positions. Are you completely in the frame? Or only a piece of you? Maybe you are not there at all. Play around with a variety of looks, but remember you will have to reset your own camera and focus every time you change. Don’t let that hinder you, just be aware.
You have your location, composition, and modeling skills all ready, but how do you actually take the photo? There is absolutely no right or wrong way to do it and in some cases you may have to get really creative. (I had a classmate in art school who taped his DLSR to the ceiling with duct tape - I do not recommend that) I suggest starting with these three options: tripod, human tripod aka friend/sibling/life partner volunteer, or handheld.
When you take self portraits, prioritize safety by not placing your camera on risky platforms. Use a tripod to keep your camera in a consistent and safe position. Once you have your camera facing where you want it to be, it can be tricky to gain focus on you while you are behind the lens playing with settings. Put something in your composition where you will be posing. Focusing on this object will help the camera focus on you when you trade spots. Height of the object is not as important as distance, but try to match it to yourself as best as you can for accuracy.
You can also try focusing with a remote or autofocus while you are in front of the frame. This may take a few tries, but once it is established it can save you time an energy of getting up, focusing, and going back to position.
If you do not have a remote, try using the timer and burst mode on your camera. This will at least give you time between your pose and pressing the shutter. The burst mode will give you multiple options in one sitting (so you can guarantee your eyes will be open!)
If you decide you want to handhold your camera to take your photo, remember that your distance between you and the lens is relied solely upon the length of your arm. Naturally, you may also shake which could result in blurry images. On the other hand, this may be the exact kind of framing and effect you are seeking.
You are not cheating if someone assists in taking the photo for you, but use them only as a human tripod and remote. You still need to have full control of the image and how it is taken. Set everything up and direct your human tripod to stand and focus where you want.
Take Your Time:
You may not be a professional model, so getting into a pose and finding what feels/looks good to you may take some time. Self portraits are filled with infinite possibilities, but has some limitations. It is exhausting. When losing energy, you’ll feel very impatient, irritated, and uncreative. Take breaks, have snacks, listen to your favorite music, and treat yourself like you would your best model. Are you getting discouraged? Call it a day and try again later.
A self-portrait should be a very personal expression, not a mirror of something you've seen somewhere else. Think about who you want to be and how you want to say that. What does using yourself as the model say differently than what you would say with someone else? Sometimes the self portrait may not be about you, but rather using yourself to depict another person. But why use yourself, instead of the other person? What is the narrative?
Lastly, Do Not Be Afraid of Judgement.
It can be intimidating to use yourself as a subject. Self portraiture is not vain and narcissistic. It is more widely accepted today with the social media promotion of selfies and sharing your life. You have every right to experiment and evolve as an artist. Self portraiture can teach you patience, independence, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. It is the ultimate opportunity to get to know yourself better. Remember, if you ever receive unnecessary negative criticism, it is simply a reflection of that person’s closed mindedness.
Here are some examples of self portraits to get you inspired:
Paul Mpagi Sepuya
Ready to create? Submit your self portraits to the newly open Self Portrait Challenge!
We cannot wait to see YOU!
We hear the terms “content marketing” constantly in our fast paced, influencer, society, but few really understand how powerful and vital it is for a successful marketing strategy. Today’s audiences are begging for unique, custom, and personable content from the brands that are important to them. They no longer want to simply buy your product, they want to identify with it.
What is content marketing?
Photo by: ELITE | Rosley Majid
Forbe’s defines it as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The content produced and shared may not specifically involve promoting your brand, but rather encourages interest in the service or product. Naturally, the goal is to drive profitable consumer action and build a quality reputation for your brand, but the strength in content marketing relies on reliable and compelling content that continuously attracts, yet retains your defined audience perspective.
Why Do I Need Content Marketing?
Photo by: PRO | Marko Klaric
More businesses are recognizing the strength in content marketing, but what makes it so important? How can you incorporate it into your own promotional planning? Here are a few reasons:
By allowing you to target a specific and clearly defined audience, it is easy to optimize and build an online presence with diverse and relatable content that will reach granular audiences quickly no matter the size of your company. It is proven that most brands that use a sustainable content marketing plan report increased sales, cost savings, and more loyal customers.
Attracts followers. Yes, social media has exposed our human flaw: we all want to be followed, acknowledged, and loved publicly. It is no secret, more followers attracts more business. Social media is a driving force in today’s B2C and B2B market, but many brands struggle to gain an attraction on social channels without relevant and constant content that can easily be shared and interacted with. Large campaigns can rest easy with one push, but content marketing gives you the freedom and reasons to post often and share everything.
You can sell more than a product, you can sell a brand. Various types of content, often educational and informative, played at specific stages of selling your brand can help a customer navigate to a successful sell. Entice, convince, and bring them home through unique content applied to all aspects of marketing your brand, including social media, SEO, public relations, and inbound creative strategies.
Elements of Successful
Photo by: EXPERT | Andrew Bennett
You may be new to content marketing or have plans already in mind, but there are a few points you need to consider to make sure your campaign is successful:
Strategy: How is your content designed to support your brand objectives? What do you want to get out of each piece? Who, what, when, and where will this content live?
Analyze who your buyer personas are: Based on feedback from your existing customer base and previous marketing efforts, identify who your audience is and what they are attracted to.
Content gaps: Analyze your existing content to expose gaps, weaknesses, and more importantly opportunities for content marketing. Where do you need a little push?
Creating the content: Create unique content and add professional copywriting that supports your entire marketing strategy. It is important to be an individual in this statured market, so using custom content will make you stand out (Hey! Use us! This is our specialty!)
Generate and Share Often: Audiences have shorter attention spans more than ever now. They need to be reminded constantly who you are. Share new content each week in one way or another. Doing this, you build essential trust and become a source of information your audience can rely on.
The power of email marketing & social media promotion: Email and social are the fastest and easiest way to share your current campaigns with larger audiences. Keep it simple, direct, and informative.
Tracking Success & Growing With Your Campaigns:
Photo by: ADVANCED | Nuchy Lee
Like your other marketing efforts, there are ways to measure the effectiveness of your content marketing to better determine if the content is reaching your target audience and whether or not they find it valuable. Pay attention to your performance indicators, (such as increase in traffic, how long your users are staying on the page, how they discover you, and what they are interacting with the most through likes, shares, and follows,) and adjust the content to work to its full potential.
Photo by: ELITE | Marlene Bocast
Feeling confident and convinced in the powers of Content Marketing? Snapwire understands the importance (that is why we exist!) and want to help you get the visual content you need to be successful in your campaigns. Unique, custom, content is reliable, communicative, and easy to achieve while working with our resourceful team. Don’t be shy - contact us and let’s get started!
professional chef & aspiring food photographer
Born and raised in Texas, PRO | Chef Banks White is a professional chef (currently at Rambler & the soon to open The Brixton on 2nd ) whose curiosity of food and travel has led him to capturing his everyday through photography. Whether it is creating his own masterpieces or tasting menus around the world, he has an eye for photographing whatever dish is presented.
In the spirit of our new Challenge: On The Table, we sat down at the Chef’s Table to get a taste of White’s photography.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you do?
I'm a Chef living in the Bay Area working in San Francisco. I've cooked all over the country for about 15 years. Napa Valley, San Francisco and New York City for the majority of the time in Michelin rated restaurants.
I'm passionate about food photography and styling. I look to Donna Hay’s style for open light and dark food photography.
How did you start in photography?
I originally started in Junior High. My father was big into photography and I naturally followed and picked up sports photography. My sister played every sport when she was in school and we had to tag along, so I started taking pictures of her games.
I stayed with it and it continued all the way to college where I thought I was going into Sports Photo Journalism. I was really good at photography, but it wasn't a huge passion for me. During my sophomore year in college I decided to go to culinary school in Vermont.
Later on, in my career, I started to take pictures of my own food.
Any tips for photographing food?
Much like in the kitchen, we call it “mise en place:” to have everything in its place. When setting up shot I like to pre-game and get the shot ready and aperture dialed in before I bring out the principal ingredient.
What is one of your favorite photos ever taken and why?
I cannot choose a single image. I love my travel photography. I started traveling internationally 10 years ago and I'm hooked. Mostly Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Laos). I've made so many travel friends and have eaten some amazing street food.
In February, we launched the challenge “Modern Romance” to encapsulate what love means to you. We asked you to define romance by photographing true love in all shapes, forms, sizes, locations, genders, sexual identities and orientations. Here are a few of our favorites:
We are all about community here at Snapwire (WE LOVE YOU GUYS) and are constantly trying to find ways to get to know you better.
When our community support boss babe Ervinna came up with the challenge Where are you from? we had no idea that you would submit such a vast and beautiful amount of imagery. What an amazing world we live in! Cheesy as it sounds, how cool is it that we all share a love for photography even though we are all from very different places?
It was absolutely inspiring to scroll through the landscapes, portraits, and food shots, that I thought I should share a few:
Travel the world further and take a look at the rest of the submissions!
Thank you RBC and Bettina! We love working with you!