Artist Spotlight: Maayan Windmuller

We are pleased to introduce you to Maayan Windmuller, the winner of our White on White / Black on Black challenge and feature of our current artist spotlight.

Maayan is an engineer and passionate photographer and family man from Germany. We are delighted that he was willing to answer some questions about his self portraiture and photography journey so far, as well as some tips and information, and hope you enjoy reading along with us.

 

Maayan’s visually stunning winning entry from the “white on white / black on black” challenge

 

How did you come up with the concept for your winning shot?

I knew I wanted to create a photo with both “colours” in it, not just white on white or black on black. My first idea was to shoot a portrait facing the camera, with my face painted half white and half black, a bit like the photo I currently use as profile picture, but with the background split in two too.

But it seemed to lack something… I wanted to evoke emotion, to draw the viewer in. So after a few iterations I had the idea of building on the theme of “good vs. evil”, “light vs. shadow”, while at the same time keeping it simple. I like to dress up and using props in my shots, so the idea evolved from the painted face to the matching suit/shirt and hat. I had just bought a top hat for a composite I created for the Chrysta Rae Photography Scavenger Hunt on G+, so the logical consequence was to buy a white hat in addition.

 

Tell us how you put it all together – it looks quite involved.

My wife was kind enough to help me with the makeup. She painted only the white half at first and I took a few shots with various expressions and angles in front of a white background. I like to create as much as possible in front of the camera, so I used a white contact I bought for another Scavenger Hunt shot a while ago. Then she painted the black side and I shot the second series in front of a black background.

I then went through the dozens of shots, first narrowing down each colour on its own, then looking for two expressions that matched. I smiled on a few “white” photos (you know, the good side), but liked the combination best that ended up in the final image. I edited both images in Lightroom and exported them to Photoshop to create the transition between white and black background. I tried several effects and ended up with this dispersion look, with the shape hinting at the Yin and Yang symbol.

 

What type of lighting did you use to shoot the white on white and black on black photography in your self portrait?

I used a single off camera flash at roughly 45 degrees in front of my face. I used the same camera settings for both series (1/250s, f/8 and ISO 200), but increased the power of the flash for the “white” shots to brighten up the background.

 

What was your first self portrait, and how did it come about?

If I remember well, the first self portrait I created was for my very first Scavenger Hunt back in 2014. The word was “square” and I had the idea to portrait Albert Einstein working on his famous formula, only that he didn’t seem to get it quite right…

 

What is your inspiration for your self portrait photography?

Most of my self portraits were created for the Scavenger Hunt, which led to my participation in the Art of Self Portrait community. To me, it is a playing field where I can be whoever I want to be, let my imagination run wild, dress up, or simply be my true self.

 

What do you find to be your biggest challenge when creating a self portrait?

Coming up with the concept is the hardest part. Between work, the kids and everything else, I find it difficult to empty my mind and let creativity take over. Music helps, right now I am listening to “Big Calm” from Morcheeba. After that, going past the technical stuff and creating a photo that is compelling and tells a story can also be a big challenge at times!

 

In one word, what does self portrait mean to you?

Freedom

 

What is your opinion on people suggesting narcissism is part of self portraiture?

Self portraiture as an art form (as opposed to selfies as a narcissistic self display) requires a willingness to take a good (and honest) look at yourself, discover hidden properties including one’s flaws and learn to live with them or ideally accept them. It requires to dive deep into the dark areas of your self and so is exactly the opposite of narcissism, which only aims at presenting the shiny surface.

 

Have you made any discoveries about yourself through self portraiture? If so, what are they?

I would say that I got to self portraiture because I have reached a certain maturity, which enables me to reflect on myself (not to be confused with age). In turn, creating self portraits has shown me that I am stronger than I usually tend to admit and given me more self confidence.

 

Do you mainly create self portraits? What other types of photos do you enjoy creating?

The conceptual photos I create are indeed mainly self portraits, but I also enjoy telling a story by capturing moments of life – mostly mine and that of my family, but when I have the opportunity also the life of others. Here, I often follow the principle of “less is more” and try to convey the story by showing only part of the scene, so that the viewer can fill in the rest. I am often drawn to shapes, patterns and light and shadow, which probably explains why a lot of my photos are in black and white…

 

Not including your winning image here, which of your works is your favorite, and why?

My mother and my elder son baking Christmas cookies. As of today, this photo is my absolute favourite! You only see their hands and a rolling pin, but your mind immediately fills in the rest. I call it “generations baking.”

 

My son sulking after my wife reprimanded him for biting into a ball. My younger son has such a variety of expressions and I love capturing them. I call it “Le Monsieur” because I took it during our holidays in France and, well, he looks so pretentious.

 

The girl on the plane. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to shoot street portraits, and when I do, I often shy away from getting too close. This was my first ever “street” portrait (even though it was taken in a plane) and it still is one of my favourites. The light falling on her face, her eyes gazing into the void, her dreamy look…

 

My favourite self portrait is probably me swimming in popcorn. I took it for the Scavenger Hunt, the word was (surprise…!) “popcorn”. I tried to come up with something out of the box. In that round, several scavengers were offering mentorships and Derek Kind helped me to perfect the shot. It was awarded a first place by Stefan Riss, which meant a lot for me!

 

Right behind it is another scavenger hunt entry, this time for the word „Wind“: My interpretation of the „Wind Goddess“

 

 

What is your typical workflow from idea to execution?

Most of the time I need a theme or subject to start with (like the AoSP challenges or the Scavenger Hunt). I do an initial brainstorming and then leave it alone for several days or weeks (depending on the deadline). From time to time, a new idea or a refinement of an existing one will float to the surface until I have the basic concept. Then I will go through my prop cabinet and complete it if necessary (a part I love).

Usually I shoot my self portraits when the kids are in bed, which means that I have to use artificial lighting – speedlights for the most part. As I don’t have a permanent studio, I’ll set up everything in the attic, living room or basement (depending on the topic, how much space I need and my wife’s tolerance limit) and take the shots. Quite often, I develop new ideas during the shoot itself, which sometimes changes the complete concept. I love this creative part of the process!

If it is a composite, I will then look through my photos for a matching background, or take a new one if needed and then put it together in Photoshop (which is another challenge I am trying to get better at).

 

Who has influenced your work?

I love the books of David DuChemin and enjoy watching his “vision is better” podcast. Ted Forbes’ “Art of Photography” channel, especially his artist series and the interviews, are very educating too.

In terms of photographers, Marie Laigneau was one of the first I followed on Google+. I love her B&W street photos!

On my path to self portraiture, Stefan Riss and Christopher Germano influenced me as well as Godriguez.

 

What advice do you want to give someone who would like to try out artistic self portraiture, but doesn’t know where to start?

Nike said it best: “just do it!”. Don’t give it too much thought, don’t get too technical. You don’t need any fancy equipment or be a Photoshop crack, just set up your camera on a tripod (a table or cupboard works just as well!), set the timer and take a few shots. After all, you are the only one who will see them, unless you decide to share them with the world. If you get your first reluctance and still want to do it, the rest will follow.

 

Any tips or techniques about self portraiture or photography in general that you would be willing to share with our community and followers?

I am a big fan of “less is more” – a concept that can be applied to all areas of life, but is one of my leitmotifs in my photography.

***

Inspiring words from a creative talent! <3

If you’d like to connect with Maayan and follow his continued journey in art, use the links below:

Website:
http://www.maywind.net/

Instagram: maywind72
500px: Maayan Windmuller
Flickr: maywind72
Google+: Maayan Windmuller

Have questions for Maayan? Feel free to ask!

Challenge: Reflections

Self Portrait Challenge: Reflections
Submissions accepted from November 1st – December 31st 2017*

For this challenge, we’d like for you to craft a creative self portrait that incorporates reflections, but which *does not include a visible capturing device in the image.* 

Submit your entry via
Facebook:Post to the “discussion” section of this event: https://goo.gl/qPCSnF
Google+: Post to the “Challenge Submissions” Category: http://goo.gl/VbVTm4

image by community moderator ricardo williams

 

Here’s a gallery of great self portraits that incorporate reflections to inspire you: https://goo.gl/xvTWDJ

Questions? Feel free to send a message to us at The Art of Self Portraiture FB Page or make a post in the discussion section of our G+ Community (http://goo.gl/M7XTQ).

Facebook ASP Page: https://www.facebook.com/artofselfportraiture
Art of Self Portraiture Community on G+: http://goo.gl/M7XTQ

OFFICIAL RULES:

Submissions accepted from November 1st – December 31st 2017*
Entry must be a self portrait that is your original work and adheres to the theme. Only one entry per person.
The self portrait must be current (captured during the submission timeframe of the challenge), though composite elements of the image do not have to be current.

*Facebook events allow only a 2 week period of time to be designated for an “event” – the start and end dates on the Facebook event are August 18 – 31st as those are the last 2 weeks of the submission period. Please note that you may post your submission to either (or both) the Facebook Event and/or the Google+ Challenge Submissions Category *any* time between November 1st – December 31st 2017.

At the end of the submission period, the Owners and Moderators of The Art of Self Portraiture Community will select a group of 5 finalists and announce and feature these artists and their images. From these, one overall winner will be selected. The winner will have their work featured on all of our social media channels and be highlighted in a post on our website.

Please note that moderator judging is subjective (art always is!). Each moderator will cast their vote based on adherence to the theme and rules, as well as their own subjective impressions of the art and aesthetics of entries (such as emotional quality, creativity, overall technical skill required, processing quality, etc). Moderator votes are final and not subject to debate.


Current ASP Community Moderators:
Lotus Carroll
Mark Rodriguez
Annie Weibull
Aska Koziara
Jason Mayers
Kelly Richards
Nynke Bonga
Paul Bagley
Ricardo Williams
Sam Breach
Stacy Heap Vitallo
Stefan Riss
Tamara Pruessner
Tom Tran

***


If you’re serious about exploring creative self portraiture, request to join here:
Google+ Community: http://goo.gl/M7XTQ
Facebook Group: https://goo.gl/WBnqpB


You can also find us here:
Website: http://artofselfportraiture.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/artofselfportraiture
FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/artofselfportraiture
Ello: https://ello.co/selfportraiture
Twitter: http://twitter.com/selfportraiture
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/artofselfportraiture
Tumblr: https://artofselfportraiture.tumblr.com/

Artist Spotlight: Nicole Small

We are pleased to introduce you to Nicole Small, the winner of our “Negative Space” challenge and feature of our current artist spotlight.

Nicole is a fine art photographer and self portrait artist from Montreal, Canada. She was gracious enough to answer our questions about her winning image, self portraiture, her body of work and artistic journeys, and photography in general. We hope you enjoy soaking in her answers as much as we did! ❤️✨

Nicole’s captivating, winning entry from the “negative space” challenge

 

How did you come up with the concept for your winning shot?

A few years ago my very good friend and portrait photographer of mine decided to venture into opening a photo studio which was located in one of the well known art districts in Montreal, Canada. Thinking of it now, I have to say it was one of the most loneliest times in my creative journey of photography, art and portraiture which was my sole purpose in opening a photo studio. Overtime for reasons I still do not understand, it had become a mystery to me on how to get clients to come to the studio and experience what it is I love to do so much and so a year before we had decided to let the whole concept of having a studio go, I had felt the need to create nonetheless. This image came from a series of images during that time period of which I felt lonely, solitude, hurt and disappointment. I think my voyage into the art of self portraiture was inevitable and here I am now creating images almost daily.

 

What was your first self portrait, and how did it come about?

My very first self portrait, well not sure if I would really call it that now! It was taken for my profile on Facebook. This was when I had just started dabbling in the field of photography. I knew nothing about it but was drawn and connected to it the minute I discovered it.

 

a whimsical, wonderful first self portrait

 

What is your inspiration for your self portrait photography?

The very same thing that I have been so passionate about photographing…..people. People have inspired me to self portraiture. I do not want to sound negative, but due to a long and daunting period of time where I found myself to be unsuccessful in “convincing” one to choose me to photograph them, it brought me to a point where I just couldn’t sit on the sidelines with the hopes of it happening anymore. I was drowning in a sea of creativity and ideas and I knew I had to make a decision.

1. Sit and wait for things to happen while investing in a studio space that remained empty and have my creativity windle to bits.
2. Forget about my original plan of focus and resort to a way in which I could create anytime I wanted and in the way that I wanted without having to rely on anybody else = self portraiture.

I guess you can figure out which choice I decided to follow through with!

Although self portraiture has become my main focus now, I had in the past from time to time experimented with self portraiture but it was not in the way that I do it now.

Nicole’s self portraits, 2011-2015.

 

 

What do you find to be your biggest challenge when creating a self portrait?

I enjoy and love having faces fill the frame, even with portraits that I have had the opportunity to photograph of others. I would say my biggest challenge is being able to open up on my self portrait images. I work with old vintage cameras which do not always have a timer that works or has one at all. So I am limited with the amount of space to work with in regards to distance from the camera. Although most of my work I have done was in my living room, I would also have to include that finding the right locations is another challenge for some conceptual work that I have yet to dive into and create.

 

In one word, what does self portrait mean to you?

Creativity.

 

What is your opinion on people suggesting narcissism is part of self portraiture?

I think it all depends on the intent which you can easily figure out upon looking at a self portrait image. If I am standing in front of a mirror with a pouty mouth, tight clothing while pushing out my chest and buttocks that is one thing, but if the image clearly shows a depth of character, ambiance, mood, a scene and creativity, this to me is something I cannot see as a narcissistic approach or presentation. Even more so if there is text attached to the self portrait image that is expressing a particular feeling, thought or experience.

 

Have you made any discoveries about yourself through self portraiture? If so, what are they?

What I have discovered through self portraiture about myself is that I am ok with the way that I look no matter how the outcome is. My objective is a creative image as a whole and not a focus in the way that I look in it. I have also discovered how creative you can be with very little.

 

Do you mainly create self portraits?

Yes, I would say self portraiture is what my main creative focus is. I do, however, enjoy photographing still life in the form of lumen prints and cyanotype portraits, (which may turn over to another dimension of self portraiture).

Lumen Prints:

   

Cyanotypes:

   

 

 

Which of your works is your favorite, and why?

Some of my own personal favorites (was hard to break this down!):

 

 

 

 

 

In all of these they show my strength and inner being that has finally been able to get out and create.

 

We noticed that you’ve been working on a pinhole photography project – can you tell us more about that?

Working with the pinhole camera started out solely as experimentation but through time it had projected out once again into portraiture not only of myself but of others. It seems that everything I do creatively has a way of making itself back to photographing people, (which has been my most passion to photograph). I knew that I would probably end up with the same results as before which was an empty chair and so I thought instead of calling out to anyone, I would call out to a more specific group which were local Montreal artists. Having it being a different take and an old photographic technique on portraiture, I thought that I would get more interest from those that were artists than the average person. I was proven wrong! I still hold this pinhole portrait project dear to my heart and is ongoing and open to anyone from anywhere.

 

What is your typical workflow from idea to execution and beyond?

I usually will start off from a series of image ideas out of my sketch book. Sometimes I will lay out different props on a table, (I have loads of them!), let them sit there and as I pass and go by them whatever ideas trigger I write them down or sketch them out. Sometimes an idea comes from a simple walk outdoors or from riding on a bus… most of these ideas I do sketch out are for my conceptual ideas but as for my self portraits I have been doing, they simply come from emotions I am feeling at the time, with some influence from my sketched out ideas. I do not really prepare too much as I find I lose too much spontaneity. My sketch book is actually a book I started for my conceptual ideas which were sketched with a person in mind, not myself. So most of my newest work has come from those ideas which I have had to review, recompose and alter to fit for myself.

 

Who has influenced your work?

Artist Novemberkind (her older portrait work not so her manipulated pinhole images)
Artist Stefan Killen (his portraits)

 

Do you prefer color or black and white photography? What influences your choice?

I prefer black and white mostly because I can process my film or paper myself. I do love to work in color, but I do not like to have my work processed by a lab. I have done it in the past and have never felt good about the results. I can process color film at home, but it is a whole other process.

 

What challenges have you overcome in your photography so far?

The way I shoot my pinhole portraits is probably not the way many would do them because I use hot lights. In the beginning I did not realize how much time and light I would need in order to get the right exposure and this is a big challenge when working with paper opposed to film. Although this is a big challenge, I still prefer working with paper over film, I just like the look better. I have now fine tuned this somewhat and now work with 3 minute exposure times opposed to 6 -13 minute exposure times. I am still trying to find better solutions to minimize some of the kinks in getting the exposures just right.

 

Any tips or techniques about self portraiture or photography in general that you would be willing to share with our community and followers?

Once you have come up with a general idea or concept, don’t think too much. Just do it. Play with the concept on the spot and think of it in more ways than one. You will be surprised what you will come up with and how that one idea can turn into many different ones, and if you can write them down, write them down as soon as you can!

Don’t be discouraged if you fail at an attempt, do it again and if you need to break from it, break from it, try something else and then come back to it again.

Don’t be timid on what you want to express, or doubt yourself on what you think others may think or say. If you want to be bold, be bold, if you want to be mysterious, be mysterious! A self portrait is your world of creativity, go for it!

***

Wonderful advice and inspiration from a truly unique and talented artist.

If you’d like to connect with Nicole and follow her continued journey in art, use the links below:

Personal Website (updates in progress): http://www.oneononeart.com

Facebook: One on One Art
Twitter: One on One Art
Instagram: One on One Art

YouTube: One on One Art Channel

Learn from Nicole:
Pinhole Workshop

Buy:
Etsy Shop

Have questions for Nicole? Feel free to ask!