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  • Writer's pictureLele Bonz

Self Depiction Project

Hello everybody!

Today I will share something a bit personal with you.

As many of you know, I am an undergraduate photography student, and often I am assigned projects in my classes.

The first project of this semester was a self-depiction one. I was instructed to take a total of 7 unedited pictures that will cohesively portray a well-rounded depiction of myself. The prompt was really generic, meaning that I had to really think about which way I wanted to portray my own self to others.

We did not have to do it necessarily through self-portraits, so the possibilities were basically limitless. I do not know how you handle very broad assignments where you have to take on all the decisions, but I am definitely more of a "tell me what to do and I'll do it" type of gal. So, deciding everything from scratch was extremely hard for me.

I had way too many ideas on how to portray myself with pictures. Oftentimes, photographers tend to capture other things or people other than themselves, which made the assignment even more challenging. I barely even take self-portraits, and I do not really try to incorporate my identity to this level in my photography.

I needed to brainstorm.

So, as every artist does when they do not know where to begin, I started sketching.

How would you describe yourself with 7 pictures?

It's not as easy as it sounds, is it?

I could not just throw together a bunch of random pictures, I needed to make them look part of the same project. In order for them to be cohesive, I needed to pick a theme, something that would tie together all the sides of me that I wanted to show.

As weird as it sounds, I picked my own house. Why, you might ask.

Well, I was the one who decided how to decorate and furnish it, and I believe that it portrays my personality and style more than self-portraits ever could. In fact, my house is the only place where I am free to express myself and not worry about any social expectations.

Therefore, as my general theme, I decided to focus on the connection I have with my own house and how it represents a piece of myself.

Now, I needed to decide which things I wanted to pick to portray my personality. After hours of brainstorming and revising, I decided that the things I care about the most are my small family, cooking, traveling/scouts, mental health (ADHD), reading, nature, and a love for the arts (in this case, I picked music).

A bit of a mess, but bear with me.

For each one of them, I thought of a way to portray them through the means of my house and how to use the techniques we learned meaningfully.

Photo 1: Mental Health

For ADHD, I decided to take a shot of the pills that I have to take every morning in order to function. I keep them in my office next to my school supplies, and they are my number one priority every morning. This brought me to the decision to have them in the foreground, with everything else out of focus. Also, the lighting is a bit darker than in other pictures of the same set because this is a less cheerful aspect of my life, and even if it is a part of myself, it has been a burden in many circumstances. However, lately I have finally decided to start working on myself and my mental health, which only brought more happiness into my life. Instead of hiding my issue, I have finally embraced it, which is why this is the first photograph of the series.

Photo 2: Cooking and culture

A big part of my life is cooking, which is actually what I wanted to pursue before I decided to become a photographer. I have always loved cooking, even when I could barely stand I would stare with amazement at my nonna, who was always crafting some type of deliciousness. Furthermore, my culture is known and presented all around the world for its delicious food, so this picture perfectly embodied this part of me. It represents my past, and how I'm fusing it to my present, and I just love how it turned out! Lastly, thanks to all the colors around our house and our messiness, you can learn lots about me just by looking at this still.

photo 3: love for the arts

As my third photograph, I decided to capture my favorite little angle in my home. Ben (my husband) gifted this record player to me for our past anniversary, and I have never been so in love with an object (other than my camera) before. This whole corner with our records, plants, books, and random things is such a good representation of my personality, in my opinion. I am obsessed with all art disciplines, but music is the only one that I have a need and desire for on a daily basis. For instance, on my Spotify wrapped, it was reported that I listened to 450000 minutes of total music during 2021. I have music of all genres in the background for everything I do, which is why this picture is a perfect representation of me.

Photo 4: traveling and scout

You might not know, but, back in Italy, I was part of a fantastic scout group. I have shared countless adventures and life moments with those amazing individuals, for 11 years on my life to be precise. Honestly, they made me the person I am today. It's actually thanks to them if I ever picked up a camera in the first place when I was only 9, and they truly shaped my character and personality for the better. They are also the reason why I am so passionate about traveling, nature, backpacking, and camping. Of course, traveling is a big part of my life, living on the other side of the globe relatively to my family, so I wanted to combine all these ideas into a single composition.

As you can clearly see, this picture is less candid than the others, except for the pills one. I did have to place everything in a specific spot, instead of taking a picture of an apparently spontaneous moment. This, however, was a choice. While I am quite all over the place and impulsive on most aspect in my life, traveling is not one of them. I can become very anxious if I do not plan out exactly everything I will do in my travels, which brought me to carefully compose this still, instead of freezing a spontaneous moment.

Photo 5: Reading and being a nerd

Yes, I am indeed a big nerd. I have always been obsessed with numerous books, sagas, tv shows, and movies, especially fantasy ones. As you can see, one of my favorites was Harry Potter, which I have read about 15 times both in English and Italian. Yes, we don't like J.K. Rowling, but we cannot deny that this book series is an absolute masterpiece. Anyway, for this picture, I wanted to capture the side of me that obsesses over fictional characters and binge-watches an entire series in a couple of days.

Another thing that I wanted to incorporate in this concept was my love for stories, which I have been always fascinated by. You do not know this, but when I was little I would close myself in my room every afternoon to make up completely random stories through my stuffed animals. I would make up a whole backstory, voice, personality, goals, and fears for every character, every day. This is probably why I still really enjoy DnD.

What way to represent stories better than... books?

Lastly, I love my room. It's cozy, warm, and intimate, and it's my safe place. Also, it's filled with plants, but we'll talk about that in a sec. I knew that, in order to show others a part of myself that not a lot of people know about, I would have had to do it from a safe and comfortable space for me, which is why I picked my bedroom.

Photo 6: love for nature and obsession with plants

As I was saying before, I really love plants. My whole house is filled with them. Some are on the shelves, our dressers, desks, on top of bookshelves, and a couple are even hanging from the cealing.

I don't know why, but they bring me so much joy. Some of them have been living with us since the beginning of our relationship, even surviving our house flooding in 2020. I definitely have an emotional attachment towards all of them, and I think that they bring such a sweet touch to our home.

And, more generally, I really love being surrounded by nature. Since I do not have much time to get out and hike as much as I would like, at least I can make my home feel as green and nature-like as possible.

Why are there two pictures of this concept? Well, there actually were not. For the project, I picked the photo below when it was still colored. That decision took ages because I thought that both of these stills showed a side of me related to nature and plants.

After turning the project in, I started editing my pictures, and I wanted to simply keep and show both of them to you.

Photo 7: my tiny family

Least but not last, a portrayal of me would not be truthful if it did not include my tiny family. At the end of the day, they are a constant in my life and my biggest reason of joy. Ben is the most supportive and kind person I know, and Pepper is just a cute little fluffball of sassiness. They bring so much joy to my life and to this house, along with all the artworks and plants that are hanging around. We love being together, and I would not be the same person I am today without them.


Aaaand, that is a wrap!

How did you like this project? How would you have done it?

Let me know in the comments!

Also, on Instagram I will post a different edited version of these images, so, if you want to follow along and look at an updated version, join me here!

Thank you for reading and, as always, have an amazing week!

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If I would describe myself, It would be my house too. That is same as you but totally different life because I spend most of my time in a couch...haha

Thank you for sharing your personal life with your great pictures.

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