I don’t have a complete portrait published in any of the well-known social media sites that I use: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Flickr. These sites include a predefined set of questions, some mandatory and some others optional, in order to describe the identity of the user: general information, job and studies, places where you have lived, family and relationships, important events in your biography.
In any case, I think that there is not a unique portrait that you can write; depending on the audience you will put the accent on different aspects of your personality or biography. A public portrait always pursuit an intention and it always try to draw up a positive profile of the individual in order to get the approval of the group. And what works for friends, doesn’t necessarily work for work fellows, family members or unknown people. Each group is going to read your profile according to different standards and expectations.
Each social media network also applies different profile criterions: for Facebook the profile could be more general and vague, and maybe it’s not require to enter in deep detail into personal matters (at least not in the profile, the content that you publish latter in your wall is another questions). In Facebook maybe there is not a clear intention for the profile: on it you provide general information about your persona, which will be available for everyone. But Flickr or 500px, for example, requires a more specific profile, a profile where photography is the theme around which the profile is built. The aim of the profile is a specific community of people, with a define area of interest, to which you are trying to introduce yourself.
I’m thinking about my profile for the OCA site, which is published in the “About” section of this blog. Basically on it:
- Talk about my early stages in photography.
- Although very simple ones, I share some memories about my childhood, and what kind of photography I used to do.
- Describe 40 year of photographic practice as a amateur.
- Recognize the enormity of the task of learning photography in a more systematic way. No many clues about my personality; most of the ideas introduce there are generalisations.
- I unveil some personal information: first name, where I live and what do I make for a living.
- Give some indications about the areas of the photography on which I interested.
This is a very formal description of myself, and the purpose of it is clear to introduce myself to the student community. It doesn’t provide any personal information or familiar status, basically because it’s not relevant in this context. It superficially mentions my intentions to complete the degree, but it doesn’t talk about fears and hopes, or what I do expect to find doing this course.
After seeing the series “Who are you?”, it’s clear for me that a portrait in the way that Perry proposes is a kind of narrative that takes advantage of the conflicts and contradiction of our live. What keep us moving is the tension: The hunter goes to hunt because he is hungry, and that “conflict” is the engine that produces his action. We must work in order to live. These conflicts and how the individual solve them are crucial to understand the personality of the person.
A sincerer profile, even my OCA profile, necessarily gives me to ask me some additional questions to be included in the profile, such these:
I like photography as a way of expression to record the way on which I see the world. This doesn’t imply any kind of metaphysic vision or record the “great events” which I’m witnessing. but those small occurrences of everyday and ordinary life.
What are my expectations doing this course? Doing it doesn’t mean I am or will be an artist, because those are strong words, and maybe it’s a little too late. But reading and learn by myself, trying to satisfice my intellectual interests, has always been an essential part of my being. Why a degree? Why should I walk this long and demanding path before to achieve the objective? Sometimes I asked myself whether is worth to spend such an amount of money to learn photography, and my answer it’s always the same: these OCA course bring me the opportunity to learn in a structured way, have the feedback of professional and artist photographer, work in scheduled assignments, and join a community of people with similar motivations.
Finally, photography for me is about memory, and as in the Grayson Perry’s portrait of the couple which husband suffers Alzheimer, memory is our identity, so photography is an extraordinary way to preserve our identity, even using metaphors that maybe I will just understand.