Why do you hide your face in your portraits? This is something people have asked me a lot lately, something that is hard for me to answer, but I’ll work out the demons here (And while women may think it, it’s only men who have asked it).
They make for more interesting stories. When I began doing photography, the photos from other artists that I found most interesting were un-obvious portraits, where a person is not looking directly into the camera. It made me want to explore all the ways photos tell stories. My photos have to have movement and place, and I like working with the constraints of still image. Acknowledgement of the camera by the subject is taking away the mystery of the photograph, and I want that mystery.
It lends some privacy in social media. When I began posting self-portraits to the Internet, I chose ones where people couldn’t see my face for physical and emotional safety. I have many self-portraits where I’m showing my face, but those rarely make it to the Web – a gift of solitude for myself in an age of too much information.
I’m not getting any younger. I marvel and freak out over getting older. I want to be one of those women who embrace their wrinkles, grays and all, but I’m a little terrified – even more so now that my mother didn’t make it to 60. I am self-conscious about the dark circles under my eyes from insomnia and allergies, something I inherited from my mother. Along with her vanity, perhaps? All reminders not so much of beauty fading, but my mortality.
The irony is that hiding my face in self-portraits started as a way to make me feel less self-conscious and now I am more self-conscious for not revealing it. I’m taking this as an opportunity to re-examine my work and see other worlds I can explore.