Shooting Challenge #12 - Self Portraits in a Streetscape

By Martin Snelling on at

The good old selfie; outside of photos of food, they're the staple diet of every teenager/wannabe Instagram/Facebook photo feed around the globe. I've had a hankering to do a Shooting Challenge on this topic for some time, but wanted to do more than just the usual 'take a photo of yourself without pulling a duckface' or posing in front of the bathroom mirror.

Unable to think of something other than 'Bathroom Duckface', I put it out of my mind. It wasn't until Santa delivered some photo books this crimbo past, that it popped into the old noggin once more. As one of my lovely relatives had raided my Amazon Wishlist (the best invention EVER) and got me American photographer Lee Friedlander's book Self Portrait (ISBN: 0870703382).

Originally published back in 1970, Self Portrait, is a collection of seemingly random 'selfies' shot over a period of years that shows Friedlander in the form of shadows against people and objects, reflections in shop windows and only occasionally in full view in the world around him. Whether mimicking the silhouette of someone walking down the street, or casting his shadow against a chair to give the impression of an invisible man, Friedlander toys with his place within the images, using his shadow or reflection in an almost mischievous manner.


The Brief:

As with most of the Shooting Challenges, the brief this week is less 'how to use your camera' and more 'how to see things differently'. Your mission, if you chose to accept it, is to shoot your own 'selfie' against a streetscape (ie. not in front of the bathroom mirror) in the style of Friedlander's 1960s collection.


The Technique:

Take some time to study Friedlander's images, you can do this via a Google image search (Lee Friedlander: Self Portrait) or by buying his book.

Take your camera with you wherever you go.

Don't plan but wander and explore the world around you. Friedlander's book was an accumulation of six years of casual snaps and wasn't a planned project.

Have fun, be mischievous, but be legal - no weirdo shots please.

Give your photos titles - I’d like an insight into your thinking.


Did You Know?

Back in 1979, Lee Friedlander shot a series of nude photographs with a young student; the student’s name? Madonna Louise Ciccone. She was paid £20 for the shoot; twenty years later, one of the images was sold at auction for £25,000. I’ll let you discover those images for yourself.


The Rules:

- Submissions MUST be your own work.
- Submit up to five images
- Photos must be taken after the challenge was published; so no existing shots please.
- Minimal image post-processing is allowed (global changes to levels, brightness, contrast and cropping are permitted)
- Explain, briefly in your submission email, the equipment, settings, technique used and more importantly for this challenge, the story behind the image. Please ensure EXIF info is intact (if image was taken digitally).
- Email submissions to, not me.
- Please ensure your image is at least 600px wide and less than 3MB in size.
- Save your image as a JPG, and use the following naming convention FirstnameLastnameSelfie.jpg
- Don’t forget to include a shooting summary (see above).
- Send your best photos by Monday, 21st January 2013 at 6pm UK time with “Selfie” in the subject line.
- Anyone can enter, regardless of location.
- The most important rule — HAVE FUN

Martin Snelling is a Hampshire-based man about town who works in the videogame industry. A keen photographer, Martin shoots on film and digital; he blogs here, and tweets here.