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Portraits in the age of selfies

Posted in Things We Love

catherine-opieI live so much in my head that visual details escape me. So bogged down by the images I concoct, I am unable to see what is in front of me. I would make the worst witness, picking someone out of a line-up – translated into more prosaic terms, this means I make a very poor photographer. And an even worse selfie taker – it also doesn’t help I freeze in front of the camera, whether held by me or someone else, pulling all kinds of obnoxious faces.

sofagirl and I trying to take selfies in New York was the most pitiful experience, the two of us eventually resorting to asking passing strangers to please oblige, rather than trusting our own eyes.

Maybe because I am utterly useless at capturing meaningful images and faces, when I go to museums I am invariably attracted to portraits. Even when browsing through French neoclassical paintings – my least favorite art period – I stop in front of portraits, trying to catch a glimpse, a detail of a soul who walked the earth at some point.

Rembrandt and Caravaggio can entertain me for hours: so much humanity, so many feelings and stories on the faces they painted. And it was Rembrandt who came to mind last weekend, while I was walking around the small exhibition of Catherine Opie’s photographic portraits currently on view at the Hammer Museum in Westwood.

Catherine Opie is an American photographer, just a year older than me, well-known for both her portraits and landscape skills. The handful of photographs on show are all of subjects piercing through a blacker than black background, their faces and expressions seemingly lighting the photos from within.

A simple gesture

catherine-opieA writer at work (or at play – this is Jonathan Franzen)

catherine-opie-franzenA tattoo artist daring us to comment


A very contemporary artist as if belonging to a different era


While I am not aspiring to anything this grand, if you have any selfies secrets, can you pass them along?

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  1. I’m really not an expert in selfies, but I guess practice makes perfect – that is, if you can think of it as an art exercise instead of an act of narcissism?

    March 30, 2016
    • camparigirl

      You are so correct – take the ego out of taking photos of myself? A true test of letting go.

      March 31, 2016
  2. Love Catherine Opi’s work. I detest selfies intensely so unfortunately cannot give you any tips.

    March 18, 2016

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