When I embarked on my self-portrait for every show I shoot project, it was out of self-preservation: I wanted a year long project that was easy, and solitary, but also gave me some challenges. It’s easy and solitary to take a picture of yourself in a bar bathroom, but it’s hard, after about 50 shots, to make them interesting.
It’s been a hell of a ride thus far, and the year’s not over, but: a few weeks ago I shot my 100th show and took my 102nd self portrait. (The two extra were from Hopscotch; faced with a festival featuring dozens of venues and hundreds of shows, I just took one shot per day of festival. Thus, one “show” on my list, three shots.) Shooting 100 shows in a year has been on my life list since early 2010, and I’m proud and delighted to be able to cross it off. I haven’t crossed much off my life list, and I worry that Maggie Mason will be disappointed in me, but this one feels good. This one feels like a big victory. And there’s still two months left to go in this year.
The project itself has been rewarding in other ways besides photographic. I like my face more than I used to. I have great eyebrows, you guys. And when I look at the set as a whole, I see a year of accomplishment. I see a series that is actually art. I didn’t expect that, and it delights me.
This project was also crazy in its own ways. Things I did in pursuit of this project:
- Painted the 506 bathroom red, with help from Hoppie, because after 25 shows I was tired of the purple walls. The 506 bathroom is bigger than it looks, you guys.
- Did not get to paint the 506 bathroom lime green, which turned out to be good because there are a lot of venue bathrooms that are already lime green, apparently.
- Turned the 506 bathroom into a bordello accidentally by painting the whole thing bright red.
- Sent more emails involving the phrases “Stephen Malkmus” and “bathroom photoshoot” than any one person ever should. (I did not get a bathroom shoot with Malkmus. I was disappointed, but undaunted; the shot above with the round mirror is from that show, taken at the Haw River Ballroom’s upstairs bar, the Eddy, and is one of my favorites from the year so far. And Malkmus, I promise, you and me and mustaches on sticks, in a green room bathroom, someday.)
- Had to figure out how to take self portraits at shows where there no mirrors, or bathrooms. Answer: shoes, hands (my 100th show was a street festival in the CH), and a smeary glass window.
- Endured thousands of weird looks from other women in bathrooms.
- Forgotten to change the settings from, say, the dark of the Nightlight to the bright of their bathroom and gotten bizarre and amazing results.
- Taken pictures of my knees, my elbows, and my boobs when I got tired of my face.
- Made some amazing art.
So that’s all right then, isn’t it?