Thursday, March 23, 2017

Elevate Your Selfies Into Self-Portraits

(Click on Photos for better viewing)

A phenomenon of the Social-Networking Age we live in, "Selfies" have become as common place as ID photos in the albums of our digital lives. Most people use it to show the places they have been to, the memorable events they have participated in or the times they spent with friends or loved ones, but a big number of people (particularly women) use it more as mirrors to take snaps shots of their faces or bodies (maybe to see how other people see them), to assess their physical appearance-- as personal data to be used either as negative evidence (to determine what can be improved upon) or positive feedback (to proudly display what they have and others do not). Psychologists have been alarmed by this growing "Selfie" trend, which they have diagnosed to be symptoms indicating Narcissistic Disorder.

The "Self-Portrait" is a time honored artistic endeavor practiced by most Western Painters and Photographers for centuries. Rembrant and Van Gogh, as well as Avedon and Cartier-Bresson often used themselves as subjects for their own work. Like them, I believe in using my image as an element in my photos, drawings, paintings and maybe even in my films (in the future). Like them, my Art flows from my sense of Self-- my history, my experiences, my perspective, my psyche, my thoughts, my spirituality-- in other words, my soul!

The Buddha says, "that the Self is an illusion... Life itself is an illusion!" Since wholly I agree with this premise and believe that our sense of "Self" is a reflection of our mind, "Self-Portraits" for me are visual reminders of my very existence, my physical presence. I think most artists, particularly the more sensitive and philosophical ones, are perpetually aware of the impermanence of all life. It is this sense of impending doom that propels Creatives to value beauty and the majesty of life, and drives them to express themselves through Art. What is Art anyway but an individual's recreation (or reconfiguration) of one's personal experiences, one's perspective of life/reality-- our ultimate validation of our own existence.

Painting or photographing ourselves keeps us in touch with our core... our Selves... the Being that consciously contemplates life and living. Sometimes we have to see ourselves from the outside to understand what is happening inside (our minds). "Self-Portraiture" for me, is a form of meditation or self-reflection/contemplation that can make us understand ourselves better, both in form and in substance. It is narcissistic in a way, but it can be profound if it ventures beyond the physical into the psychological.

"Selfies" are actually just a level away from becoming serious "Self-Portraits." The only difference I can see between the two is "artistic intent." "Selfies" are mostly snap-shots taken without much thought. "Center yourself (or at least see some part of yourself), then shoot" is the only instruction anyone has to follow. "Self-Portraits" are more deliberate. Framing, Focus and light (or the lack thereof) must be considered before the shot is taken, resulting in a more contemplated and conceptual photograph.

Monday, March 6, 2017

My New Instagram Account

Portrait taken in the Camera Museum at the Galleria Taal
Visit my Instagram page:

Movie Making is hard work. More than a year ago, after I finished shooting and editing my first feature film "Dagsin," I thought that I would be able to come back and regularly write on this blog, but I was wrong. Making and finishing a movie was just the first part of a long drawn process that also includes Marketing, Promoting and Selling the project. At this point, we are just beginning to submit "Dagsin" to Foreign Festivals, and are in talks with various distributors for possible Domestic and International Commercial Exhibition.
After the initial salvo of releasing our Trailers, I was caught up in the Cinemalaya Film Festival proper-- a 3 months long cycle of Press Releases, Press Conferences, TV/Radio interviews and appearances, print articles, Premieres and Gala events. On top of these, since Atom & Anne Mediaworks is an Indie Production Outfit, Anne and I also had to personally supervise the project's Social Media campaigns. We were literally swamped and we were drowning in work. When Cinemalaya ended, both of us have been working none stop 24/7 for a year and a half, and we were both burned-out! It was also time for us to work on the other projects we have placed on hold to concentrate on "Dagsin."

"Camera Obscura" effect at the Camera Museum in Taal.
Among those responsibilities I have neglected are this Blog and my Photography. I recently decided to open an Instagram account to simplify my process. Writing articles for this Blog takes quite a bit of time and deliberation. With Instagram, I am hoping to post pictures on the fly; on whatever catches my eye! Finally, Photography (maybe a few videos too) for the sake of Photography, with as little or no captions at all. Right now, if you visit my Instagram page, you will notice that most of the photos I have posted there were actually shot on my IPhone. Spontaneity in my life (and work) has been sorely lacking in the past year and a half. I miss it terribly and I am hoping to rectify it!
I will continue to post articles on this blog about my work and musings on Photography, Cinema and Visual Art, but if you just want to see my images without the thought and stories that go with them, then subscribe to my Instagram account. There, you will be able to see not only examples of my formal work (both still and motion), but also view my random doodles, experimental photos/video, family pics and casual sketches.

--Photos shot by Aria Magadia