Adrien Bisson

The Self-Portrait (or How to Deal With a Problem Subject)

I was speaking with the amazing Anya Downing of Engage Marketing Design ( last week and we were looking over my website. Among other things, she wondered about my portrait on my Info page, commenting that it was not my usual style. Well, I told her, my son took it. Considering the subject with whom he had to work, it's a great photo, as are others from the shoot. But she was right, the photo is his style, and although he is not (yet) a studio shooter, he creates exceptional photos in his own style.

I began thinking about whether I wanted to address this self-portrait issue. I do tend to internalize most anything that is said to me and about me from someone whose opinion I value, so off I went.

Self-portraits, as most anyone will tell you, can be difficult. I find my self-portrait subject to be generally uncooperative, and I have some difficulty having him not "pose". I've tried different things...

Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, Massachusetts - 2007

Westford, Massachusetts - 2007

After using this shot (above) for a while, I did a semi-environmental portrait, in my living room (right). But after a while, my son informed me that this was not up to my usual standards. I am paraphrasing ;-)

Then there was the shot below that I created for a group art show in Lowell. I think I would call this a self-portraits [sic].

Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, Massachusetts - 2009

Or there is always the action shot...

Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, Massachusetts - 2010

So yesterday, I needed to do a shot of my studio for another purpose, and I decided to put myself into the scene...

Western Avenue Studios, Lowell, Massachusetts - 2010

Ok. So what would I do for some other middle-aged guy who wears jeans and has no delusions about looking anything like George Clooney... Simple. I'd go with dramatic lighting, black background, no props, no chair, little to no retouch.

Building The Book - My People Portfolio

I have been spending a lot of time recently building a new portfolio book of my portraits. The portfolio content is exactly what I show on my web site, at least initially. I envision the web version being somewhat more dynamic in content. This is my web-based people portfolio :

I settled on a Lost Luggage, green translucent, hard plastic housing. Someone looking at it recently asked me if it was glass. It's not, but it definitely doesn't have a "plastic" look. It's a very rigid and thick, ground-glass-looking, and translucent material.

Preparing the prints is a much bigger job than you might think going in. I have 25 shots in the book, plus a cover and back page, with contact information. So 3 books makes it 81 pages. And my book is 11x11, so I used 11x17 paper. Moab, who manufactures the paper that I am using, makes an 11x14, but it required a special order which would have delayed this for a couple of weeks. The waste is perfectly usable for 5x7 prints or proofing, so I didn't throw anything away, which is a bonus. I use a Moab paper called Entrada Rag Bright 190. It is double sided, although I am printing only on one side. But not having to check orientation is a plus. On the other hand, it is very heavy, and needs to be fed manually into my Epson 3800, which is pretty tedious. But it has a really refined, rich quality to it that makes the colors really pop. It is well worth the effort.

Putting the book together was mildly frustrating. You need an extra hand to thread the posts through the hinges. Plus if you have more than about 8 pages, you need to buy the extension posts from Lost Luggage. Otherwise, the separators don't fit. You can use fewer separators, but that pinches the hinges together. The hinges take a little practice, but once they are on, they work very nicely. Although these strips of Mylar with adhesive are a little pricy, they really do the trick, allowing the pages to turn freely and not folding the prints themselves.

And here is the final product. It does look really nice when you have it all put together.