Seven Days of Self 2018

Seven Days of Self 2018

It’s pretty surreal to see a hashtag you created be used so far across the world, so before you delve into this post I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone who joined in with this #7dos2018 project. It’s genuinely been the highlight of my week checking in on your daily additions.

I can’t take credit for the idea, it was the brain child of Rick Nunn, who I’m 90% certain decided to set this up on a whim, in the woods. But taking part in it really does make you reflect on your own skills, not just your technical/creative skills, but also at your ability to look at yourself from a distance.

It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Seven Days of Self

For those who don’t know, Seven Days of Self is a short project where you take 7 photographs, 1 a day for 7 days, which act as a kind of window into your life, personality or psyche. It’s a week of self reflection, and it can get pretty deep.

Equipment wise – You can use anything! Any kind of camera, phone, scanner, shoe box. I plan on using my husband’s 5D mkIII, with his “nifty fifty” lens, and a remote trigger where needed. I’ll mention if I switch up my method below.

I thought I’d share a little insight into each of my individual shots, incase anybody was interested at hearing the reasoning behind my ideas and how each shoot went down. I am in awe of people who wrote deeply meaningful paragraphs to go with each of their images (I’m looking at you, Phil Hearing), I left mine broad with just a title but I’m hoping to share more depth below.

Seven Concepts Fourteen Concepts

On the one hand, 7 concepts sounds like a lot of ways to describe yourself. But when you really think about it, it’s difficult to choose 7 aspects that you either want to share, think are interesting enough to share or that you feel sums you up best. Where possible, I used the day or the location to help shape my ideas, other days I felt the idea was solid but the execution may have shrivelled.

I should also mention that I teamed up with my BFF and chihuahua child, Betty, and completed the challenge on her behalf. This added a whole new level of difficulty to each concept, each shot would now have to work in respect to both a human and a chihuahua. I now had 14 concepts to create.

Here’s how it went down:

 

DAY 1 – FRIDAY

About the concept:

I figured this close-up crop of an eye would be a good place to start. It would naturally introduce Betty to both the project and my audience, and would be relatively easy to set up. I didn’t have to leave the house, I didn’t even have to get dressed, I simply used natural light from a large window in front of me, set up a remote to control the shutter and then used Photoshop to merge layers together. Betty’s is actually my favourite of the 2 images, that Farrow & Ball blue behind her is so dreamy, right?

Behind my shot:

The Apple of My Eye – I first met Betty when she was about 4 weeks old, she was the first to run towards me and climbed straight into my lap. It was love at first sight. She was born a twin and our connection was instant, I felt like she was a missing piece that I had finally found. Now she is my little ginger shadow, we are inseparable, I hardly ever even take a pee without her. I’ve never known such a small creature be so full of love. She is named after Rick’s grandma (and mother) and she is 100% the apple of my eye.

 

Day 2 – SATURDAY

About the concept:

This was without a doubt the first concept that came to mind when I thought about this project. I mean, I’ll use absolutely any excuse to be a mermaid, but as soon as I thought of it I asked my girl’s girl, Alex, to hook me up with her lagoon-style bathroom. She is a babe for obliging. I bought a tail that was slightly too small from Amazon. By the way, you can actually swim in those things. Then I asked Rosie to do some sweet-ass mermaid scales on my face and we were good to go. I originally planned on turning Betty into a deer, using dots of flour, but she would only stay still enough to have the flour put on her if I was holding her, and that ruined the shot. FAIL.

Behind my shot:

My True Form – I spend hours and hours in the bath. I can spend 3 hours in there, reading, writing and slowly turning into a prune. It’s my tiny escape, where I feel safe and free from having to be social. Bath time is a great excuse to not answer the phone, the door or any emails. It’s a little sanctuary, a cut-off from civilisation. I swear I was meant to be a mermaid, I’d probably prefer it.

 

DAY 3 – SUNDAY

About the concept:

The fact that this day was Easter Sunday was a big influencer for this shot. I really wanted to create a pure white scene, so that the Nutella would stand out more than anything. Of course, Withamside House is the purest location I know and I was quick to invite myself over. Mum was more than happy to help smear Nutella all over my face, so long as I didn’t drip it all over her bed (whoops!). FYI. Nutella also works amazingly well as a kind of glue substitute, if you don’t want to speak for a while, slather away. Betty didn’t fit in the Quality Street tub as initially planned, but she pulled it off.

Behind my shot:

My Sweet Tooth – I love sweet things. Sweet food, sweet drinks, sweet people. I take my sugar straight up. It’s a wonder I don’t have a mouth full of fillings. I once went to a place called The Pudding Club where they served 1 tiny savoury meal followed by 8 puddings and it was probably the best night of my life. Bar none. *Rick chimes in* “What about our wedding night?” I stand by my previous statement.

 

Day 4 – MONDAY

About the concept:

This one was actually inspired by an idea I had for Betty. You see, Betty is in love with a Black Lab called Ralph. It’s both shameless and adorable. And my title was going to be called “My Dark Knight”. So I dressed Rick up in black and told him to look like he was saving my ass from bad guys, and then when I took the adorable photo of Rick and Betty with the same set-up, I decided to postpone involving Ralph. This shoot was my first ever strobist shoot! And it was taken at 12:16am Monday morning.

Behind my shot:

My Saviour – I tweaked the title from “My Dark Knight” at the last minute, because it felt more fitting to call Rick my saviour. He was particularly helpful on Monday when I trapped a nerve in my spine, but he is without a doubt one of the most reliable people I’ve ever met. I hope he enjoys being a hero, because it seems to be his destiny whether he’s chosen it or not.

 

Day 5 – TUESDAY

About the concept:

I really wanted to delve into one of my favourite hobbies but I couldn’t decide between choosing my single favourite book (The Humans) or between the world of books in general. Frustratingly, 2 other people in the project posted about books the day before, so I hope they don’t think I stole their concept. This one had been on the list from the very start. Betty’s shot is where the photo of Ralph finally saw the light of day.

Behind my shot:

My Happy Place – Stories, whether books or movies, have always been my favourite escape. They say that readers live a thousand lives and it’s just so true. I wish there were more hours in a day, I’d spend them all escaping into other worlds and lives.

 

Day 6 – WEDNESDAY

About the concept:

Every single one of my tattoos means something to me. They tell a story, they act as a reminder or sometimes a memento. I knew that I wanted to focus on a tattoo that had a great meaning behind it. It was harder than I thought to choose just one, but I think I got it right. You’ll see an alt. shot at the very end of this post (the scorpion tells a very different story).

Behind my shot:

My Reminder – I got this tattoo when I published my very first book back in 2016. The book was inspired by, and dedicated to, one of my oldest and closest friends, who sadly passed away that same year. I had his initial tattooed below the book just after his funeral. Friday the 6th of April (the day after this post goes live) would have been his 30th birthday. I miss him every day.

 

Day 7 – THURSDAY

About the concept:

I took this photo very early in the morning, before 9am. You can tell a little more with Betty’s photo here (because she was moving and therefore blurred), but I actually used my iPhone X for these shots. The 50mm lens on the 5D meant that I just couldn’t get enough in the frame. I’m really happy with how they turned out though, particularly the shot of myself, I think the light in the bedroom was just right.

Behind my shot:

My Recurring Dream – Betty very much thinks she’s the boss of the family, I thought I’d give her the opportunity to bring that dream to life just this once. If she really was the same size as Bandit then we’d all be doomed. I am often terrified by my own dreams. Some nights I put off going to sleep incase the nightmares repeat themselves. Some nights it feels like I’m trapped inside my own paralysed Hell for days, why does my mind do this? My sister suffers from a lot of bad dreams too and she never watches horror movies. Perhaps it’s genetic.

 

Shots that didn’t make the cut

For various reasons these shots didn’t make it to Instagram, but I think they deserve a place somewhere. I think they sum up my week very nicely:

 

Self Reflecting Questions

What did I learn?

I learned that there’s never a good time to trap a nerve in your back, but during a self portrait project is probably one of the least fun. I learned how to use an off-camera flash and how to turn that shit down. I also learned that I didn’t totally forget how to use Photoshop, it had certainly been a while since I used it last, but I soon got into the swing of it. Photoshop majorly saved my ass a couple of times when the exposure was a little off. You know that saying “Never work with children or animals”? Well, sometimes I chose a lower quality shot because Betty did the perfect pose and then wouldn’t repeat it. Thus is life. I’m okay with the decisions I made. I learned that with the pressure of time constraints, there comes a lot of late nights or apologising for delayed deadlines. It seemed like a great idea to do this over the bank holiday weekend, but what I hadn’t considered was that there were two shorter weeks either side, and my work pile always mounts up. I definitely learned the limits of the 50mm lens, if you want to get a full room in shot, this is not the lens to use! Finally, I learned that my pink hair colour changed a lot in different lights and majorly faded after a single wash.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely, I might even limit myself further and just use the iPhone X with a timer or a polaroid camera. I would also recommend starting the project amidst better/brighter weather – as someone who isn’t overly comfortable with a flash set-up, I opt for natural light and some days that was in short supply. Also, outside areas were super busy due to it being the Easter holidays. Something to note!

Which is your favourite image?

Probably the very last photograph of myself. I’m super impressed at the quality from the iPhone X. The whole way through I thought that the mermaid image would be my favourite, but I think the quality of the light in this last shot makes it my personal favourite. (I’m never taking the tail off now, by the way).

How did you feel in front of the camera as well as behind it?

I’m very used to being in front of a camera and, full credit to Rick, he’s prepared me well, but it was a much faster experience setting up and taking my own shots. I chose to act out many things that felt quite natural to me, which probably helped, but I’m still pretty impressed I managed to levitate with a bad back and the distressed look on my face on day 4 – damn.

What was the hardest part?

For me, the hardest part was to fight the urge to point the remote directly at the camera, like a TV remote. I majorly limited my options because most of the photos had my hand and the remote on display. Doh!

Are you glad it’s over?

Yes. It will be very nice not to think up concepts, locations and to find time every day. I’m very glad I did it though, it’s been fun! I also highly recommend that you join in whenever is most convenient to you. Jump in at any time, just take a photo 7 days in a row and post it with the hashtag. I’ll keep an eye out for it! Big love.

#7dos2018