MUGSHOTS PART 1: MISSION STATEMENT

As my 60th birthday approaches (actually still a couple of years away, but no harm in being prepared) I am trying to take stock of my face, and how it has changed over the years. It’s not just a vanity project (though there is that), but also an attempt to examine what is and isn’t photogenic, to question why some women resort to surgery to prevent themselves looking older, to wonder why we’re hardwired to believe that wrinkle-free youth is automatically preferable to the lines of experience (which I’m not at all sure about) and even maybe to try and demonstrate to younger women that looking older isn’t as ghastly as they may have been led to believe, what with all the media propaganda that renders post-menopausal women invisible or, if they struggle against that invisibility, targets for vindictive and wounding criticism.

Also, it’s an excuse to dig out all the photographs I’ve taken of myself and treat my blog like a photo album. I used to take a lot of self-portraits. Because my face has changed a lot over the years, I’d like to try and work out how to take self-portraits now in which I look my age while at the same time appearing glamorous, intelligent, cool and not at all insane or like Baby Jane Hudson.

Because the goalposts have moved, oh yes they have. If, at the age of 57,  you pose for the camera the same way you posed for it 20, 30, 40 years earlier, you run the risk of looking at best fey, at worst grotesque. I don’t believe this is a reflection of age, so much as an indication of the slightly mannered way in which many young women (myself included) learn to look at the camera, affecting expressions and poses they may have picked up from looking at pictures of models or film stars. But the older we get, the more we have to fall back on truthfulness. I think perhaps I am entering a time in my life when I can no longer rely on disguises.

So my self-appointed mission, should I choose to accept it (and always supposing I don’t get bored halfway through) is to formulate a way of photographing myself in a way that is essentially truthful without leaving me depressed and wanting to wear a bag over my head.

To kick off the project, I’ve been gathering my old mugshots together. When I was art college in the mid-70s, I became obsessed with photo booths and would often turn the results into montages, in imitation of the Surrealists. I’ve been visiting photo booths ever since, though of course if I want a mugshot now all I have to do is launch my Photo Booth application. Also, I don’t think it’s been the same since photo booths started asking customers if they thought the photos were OK before it printed them out. To my mind, that’s cheating.

Anyhow, see if you can spot the difference between me and André Breton.

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See also:
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MUGSHOTS PART 2: THE OUT-OF-FOCUS YEARS
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MUGSHOTS PART 3: THE OUT-OF-WORK YEARS
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MUGSHOTS PART 4: THE GO-GO YEARS

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MUGSHOTS PART 5: THE MENOPAUSAL YEARS
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MUGSHOTS PART 6: THE BELGIUM YEARS

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9 thoughts on “MUGSHOTS PART 1: MISSION STATEMENT

  1. Travelling solo in Europe recently I attempted to master the art of the self portrait while holding the camera at arms length and trying not to look like I was holding the camera at arms length. The results varied between “Oh my god I have crows feet going from my ears to the back of my head!” and “Not bad.” The “not bad” tended to be ones where my expression was neutral and I was probably wondering when the shutter was going to open. Taken by surprise while relaxed, not posey and, therefore, probably very me. The one I liked best now adorns my Twitter and Facebook profiles.

    Enjoyed seeing your photo me booth historical review. Have been trying to guess years according to hairstyle, coat and lipstick. The smiley one in the red coat is a winner. 🙂

  2. I do the arm's length thing quite a lot these days, though I think the wide-ish in-your-face lens distorts the image a bit, and ideally one should use whatever the modern equivalent of the 50mm lens is. Of course I shall be exploring the arm's length method of self-portrait as well as the tripod and timer thing, though personally always preferred a shutter release extension with squeezy bulb to a timer. Not sure you can still get those; I used to have a super-long extension, but the rubber rotted away.

  3. Pingback: MUGSHOTS PART 2: THE OUT-OF-FOCUS YEARS « MULTIGLOM

  4. Pingback: SCARY SELF-PORTRAITS FOR HALLOWEEN « MULTIGLOM

  5. Pingback: MUGSHOTS PART 4: THE GO-GO YEARS « MULTIGLOM

  6. Pingback: MUGSHOTS PART 5: THE MENOPAUSAL YEARS « MULTIGLOM

  7. Pingback: SELFIES: I WIN THE NARCISSIST WARS | MULTIGLOM

  8. Pingback: DESCENTS AND MAELSTROMS | MULTIGLOM

  9. Pingback: MUGSHOTS PART 6: THE BELGIUM YEARS | MULTIGLOM

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