This Self Portrait series was created at Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery just after dawn with an infrared camera. The cemetery was established in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1863 and holds 1,000 graves. This graveyard over looks the Atlantic Ocean. When you walk through it, the deep, vast waters of the ocean become a metaphor for the mystery of the souls crossing into the afterlife.
I started creating self portraits as a way to experiment with different portrait lighting techniques, I was the best model because I was always available when I wanted to practice, and I'm able to take direction from myself very well. As I've continued with them though, its become more about expression and less about technique. I'm usually exploring the visual representation of who I think I am and who I wish I was. When using the camera to express and capture my emotions I gain self-awareness and the ability to truly understand myself.
Understanding is the first step towards acceptance, and acceptance is the basis for all love.
In this series the themes of life and death are obviously being addressed, yet what I'm really after is the in-between space, the watery, deep and mysterious space. This transitional dream space exists between the world of the living and the place that follows. It is in this place that we are truly pure. Here we are free of our emotional identity, free from the confines of our senses, free from the pain of being human and free of whatever lies ahead. We can find this space on earth through our dreams and in our meditations. The light/soul/spirit within ourselves recognizes itself within all other beings and we begin to lightly touch upon the things that are just beyond our comprehension.
Photography holds a privileged position in the art world because of its inherent ability to capture reality in such an accurate and precise way. Yet, photography is not a purely documentary medium and the camera is more than a mere recording device. As a medium it causes us to question our perceptions of reality, and asks us to use more than just our eyes to see.
© Frances Furr