Expressive, creative and full of personality, this self-portrait project by Jasmin Jones displays absolutely no limitations. Beginning as a project of self discovery, it currently consists of 213 singular photographs taken from age 19-20, which when combined create one singular self-portrait. The project is far from over though, and Jasmin tells us why…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jasmin, I’m 20 and I’m currently in my third and final year of photography practice at Cardiff Metropolitan. While photography has grown to be my main passion I also enjoy many other creative outlets from knitting and embroidery to cycling and rock climbing. I’m experimenting with ways in which to incorporate these into my photography.
When did you become interested in photography?
I’ve always known I was a creative person but couldn’t fully express myself through drawing or painting. I have always be on the lookout for my medium, my artistic outlet. In primary school I remember going on a weeks camp and my parents bought a few disposable cameras for me to take. I remember being fascinated with photographing the ‘right stuff’, the things, people and places I loved seeing and wanted to remember. The anticipation of having to wait at least a week after I was home to see the pictures was agony as a child of 10, but I completely forgot about it when the images came back. I guess since then I’ve only become more and more interested and experimental in my chosen medium. I really enjoy producing work that encourages the viewer to ask questions, about me, the work, or themselves. Mostly though I like to make people feel good, I like to make them laugh and sharing my life with them through photography can do this.
Are you able to summarise this project?
This project was created while I was between the ages of 19 and 20, at this time in a young woman’s life I feel that many things are changing. I became more self aware and wanted to turn the camera in on myself, rather than being behind it. In total there are currently 213 images in this project. They are all self portraits however they are also a singular self portrait when combined as a whole. I was curious about how I looked as a person, about who I was, how the camera portrayed me, I wanted to become more in tune with myself. I decided I would photograph myself, everyday, but I would also ask others to participate too. Sometimes I would ask a friend to take my photograph specifically standing in a place, but also I encouraged them to come up with their own pictures and to take them. Every single image that was taken throughout this project has been included in the final project, in chronological order. I wanted this project to be as transparent as possible. The camera I used, a Yashica T4, became very precious to me over this period, and still is now. During the project I hardly ever found myself without the camera on my possession, it became more important to me than my phone, keys and purse combined. While no images have been added to this project since 2017 I do not consider it closed, or finished. I have no idea as to when I’ll carry it on but I believe at some point in my life I will, and when I do hopefully for longer.
The project explores your identity… why did you choose to complete this as a self portrait project, and shoot it in this way?
The idea stemmed from a conversation I had with my partner. We weren’t talking about anything important or even interesting, I think I was going to get a drink from the kitchen. As I was speaking to him I caught a glimpse of my facial expressions in the mirror and did a double take, I didn’t look how I thought I would, not at all. I was shocked and a little nervous at the time but I soon came to realise that what I felt was natural. We only get to see ourselves in mirrors and pictures, since I’ve always been self conscious of my body I never looked in the mirror too long and I always hid away from the camera if I could. So I started photographing myself. Initially I used my phone and took a ‘selfie’ at 18:00 (the time chosen at random by a friend), however when the timer went off I would instantly dread having to look at my face on the screen, and when I did I would change my appearance. For example one of these days I got some bad news and was crying, but when I looked at my face in my phone screen I couldn’t help but laugh, and if I was laughing I would stop and pull a straight face. This way just wasn’t transparent enough for me, so I chose to use a film camera. This way I wasn’t able to see the image as it was being taken, nor straight after and I could move from place to place, without having to feel bad about how I looked in the pictures. By the time I got each roll developed and scanned I was so far removed from that moment being photographed I no longer felt so bad about how I looked. I was ecstatic to get my film back and to look at my face, my body, in the world I knew, but somehow different to what I had imagined or remembered.
What preconceptions did you have about the project?
I initially thought the project would be easy, that I could carry it on forever without breaking a sweat. I also knew that while an extensive amount of images would be included not every single one of them would be startlingly amazing, especially as others were photographing on my behalf, although I had no doubt that the project as a whole would be perfect for me. It was, however, obvious that this project was going to be something I was whole heartedly involved with. This project was an opportunity to explore my image and my life through photography.
What do you think that the series of images revealed about yourself?
I haven’t really thought about it before.. while being an exploration I don’t think I ever came up with a conclusion, especially as I don’t consider the project as finished. I felt that the project was a creative outlet, I love to photograph, I love to learn and, I learned through this project that I love me. I think I got a little carried away with the excitement of it all, of engaging with friends and family, of having good times to document and of exploring this world that I forgot about finalising it all. Now I think about it I didn’t ever want to find, or reveal, anything about myself, I just wanted to observe, to watch and to enjoy it all.
How do you feel that the project progressed from beginning to end?
Being so personal the project fluctuated with my life. During the beginning it was easy to photograph, everything was new, I was exploring my image for the first time, images seemed to jump out at me and I’d take a photo without thinking too much. After 5 months photographing became a chore, the camera was like a ball and chain that I had to carry around on my wrist at all times. I even contemplated finishing the project early, I just wasn’t cut out to keep a daily visual diary. This is when I let go of some of my rules, I photographed more freely, I allowed the images to show themselves to me again. I left the academic year still photographing, however this came to a stop 2 months into the summer. The film I had consistently used throughout the project was discontinued and I only had a few rolls left in my possession, I decided I would use these last rolls for something else.
Which photo from the self-portait series has the most impact on you, and why?
I’m not sure I can answer this question… there are a fair few that are considered my favourites. For the sake of this question I’ll have to choose the one of me walking along a beach in the rain. This image was taken towards the beginning of June, I was away with three friends camping in a tent. Our phones were dead, our tent was torn but we stayed nonetheless, we never got fully dry until we got home, but we had a really great time.
What did you take away from this project?
Firstly I now know I can do anything that I put my mind, heart and soul into, I’ve never taken on such a large and important project, and during the whole project I was doubtful that the images would be a strong body of work. During the year I photographed myself I had some amazing times with friends and family, and by looking at these photographs I can remember so much about the things in the photograph, and things that were going on in my life at the time. Whereas now the project is on hold I seem to struggle to remember as much, so I’ve learnt to remember, appreciate and express. I don’t want to only remember the times I’ve photographed, I’d like to remember as much as I can, and to help others to remember these times too.
Any last words?
Firstly I’d love to say thanks if you’ve read this far!
Secondly, remember to stay hydrated and be joyful!
To see this project in its entirety please go to my website and if you have the time check out some of my other projects. I’d love to hear any feedback so leave me a message via the contact me page, thank you.