A few weeks ago Gabriela and I did a print swap. She is an innovative and thought provoking self portrait artist who is inspiring people all over. I thank her for this wonderful interview.
JONATHAN CHERRY: Are you inspired by any other self portrait artists? If so, who and why.
GABRIELA HERMAN: When I was a young and impressionable 15 year old, my photo teacher took me to see a show in downtown Boston of a young female photographer, Francesca Woodman. At this point I had already been toying with self portraiture, but when I saw this show, something clicked. A lot of what I had already been doing felt very similar to her work; going beyond the self portraiture, I was drawn to her depiction of the body, use of movement and interplay with mirrors. And I thought, here was this woman, not much older than I, photographing in this similar fashion, with her images on a gallery wall. I can do this.
JC: What started you off making photographs of your self?
GH: Simple answer is when I get the urge to shoot, I am the one who is always available. I’m always in search of interesting natural light and I’m constantly shooting. That said, I started out going around my house and finding the rooms where the light would be beautifully seeping in and I would place myself in that scene. It’s something that I never thought twice about, I was around and no one else was so I’d have to be my own subject. I like to say it’s now evolved into this moment of inner dialogue, therapeutic if you will. It’s a time for experimentation and pushing of boundaries where the process has become equally important as the final output.
JC: Above is one of your more recent images; would you mind telling us a bit about what it is all about?
GH: I’ve titled it The Excavation. One of the definitions of excavate is to expose or uncover by or as if by digging. I find that a lot of my self portraits are about this process of exposing and the discovery to finding your way out of the unknown. I am in my twenties. I am lost. I seek direction. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Writing this makes it seem that I am depressed and down on life, this is totally not the case, quite the opposite. It’s more the general state of mind of this big unknown at this point in my life. I am excited to see what comes next.
JC: What equipment do you use and how do you go about making images of yourself? i.e. is it an easy process/hard etc?
GH: Back in my Pentax K1000 days, I would set me camera on a tripod and lean a mirror against one of the legs to see what it was I was capturing and set the self timer. When I moved to digital, with my first camera I had this nifty little (literally the size of my thumb) remote control shutter release which I would press and then toss out of the frame or hide behind me. Now with my current camera, I use a time lapse feature where I’ll set up the shot and then let it roll, usually taking a picture around every 3-5 seconds. This has altered the process a bit, in that I obviously overshoot and the editing plays a more significant role. I always joke around that if someone were to watch me in one of these sessions they’d see a crazy lady jumping around incessantly in front of the camera. It is quite an exhausting yet exhilarating process.
JC: What is next in the pipe line for you?
GH: I’m working on a new self portrait series with my sister Paloma. We often get confused as twins, though she is younger. Photographing her is the closest I can get to photographing myself. With us together in the frame, we explore our personal boundaries and collaborate to expose our deep entangled sisterhood.
JC: Any other comments/thoughts?
GH: I’d like to advocate for keeping up with the photo blogsphere. I honestly feel that photographer’s who do not read the blogs are missing out on a huge part of what’s going on in photo community. It’s been so helpful to follow other photographers who are at the same stage I am and feel that I am not alone in this journey. Also in practical terms, its where I find out about most competitions and events.
Check out Gabriela’s blog here.