Being unable to turn the lens outward circumstances dictate we turn it on ourselves

What is the self ?

The Collins dictionary defines the self as

a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.” or “self is your basic personality or nature, especially considered in terms of what you are really like as a person.

There are a multitude of theories on the self but what is important to realise is that the self-portrait does not have to be a reflection of your physical body. How does one capture ‘essential being’ or give representation to ‘your basic personality’.

This is the reason why self-portraiture has captivated artists for centuries from Leonardo Da Vinci to Frida Khalo.

Personal Experience: my personal project

My own exploration of the self-portrait involved the investigation of various near death experiences that I tried to interpret through black and white film. It was a mixture of symbolism and performance. It was quite hard to visually interpret something so abstract but it was an invaluable experience and most of the images were taken at home. I look forward to seeing what you come up with in your own projects. Here are some images from the project;

Project submissions: #keepcreatingwithorms

To enter your project upload a carousal of your self portraits on instagram and tag #keepcreatingwithorms for a chance to be featured on our Orms photographic blog.

There are no limitations for the amount of images or the amount of times you may enter.

Submission date: only entries between the 30 March-3 April 2020 will be accepted, No entries before or after will be accepted.

By taking part you’ll also stand the chance to:

  • WIN a A4 Photobook with a personalised cover and 28 pages for you to design and make your own


  • a 60-minute one-on-one session with a knowledgable expert in the field from the Orms Cape Town School of Photography to strengthen your practice even further.

Here is a list of our most inspirational photographers who have explored self-portraiture extensively in their personal work.

Download free guide to self portraiture here

Video Tutorials: How to take self portraits

  1. The Art of SELF PORTRAITS in Photography with The Art of Photography
  2. Creating Self-Portraits indoors using Window Light with Marc Klaus
  3. Shooting Portraits with One Speedlight with Sean Tucker
  4. The Basics of a One Light Setup: A Lighting Tutorial with The Slanted Lens
  5. How to take Advanced Selfies with Sorelle Amore
  6. How artists explore identity | Modern Art & Ideas with The Museum of Modern Art
  7. Conceptual Self-Portraiture with Sarah Chaput de Saintonge with B&H Photo Video
  8. Photography tips – (Selfies) How to shoot truly epic self-portraits with practical photography
  9. The Art of the Selfie | Art History Lesson with Artrageous with Nate
  10. How to take photos of yourself- SELF PORTRAIT tutorial with Kutovakika

Extra readings

  2. Why Self-Portraits Should Be An Important Part Of Your Artistic Journey
  3. jocelyn allen: a year of self portraits
  4. Seeing Themselves: Photographers’ Self-Portraits
  5. The Philosophy of Self-Portraiture in Contemporary Art
  6. Is Social Rejection the Key to Creativity?
  8. The Art of Self-Portraiture
  9. The Philosophy of Self-Portraiture in Contemporary Art
  10. Iconic Artists Who Have Immortalized Themselves Through Famous Self-Portraits