The first time I turned my camera around onto myself was ten years ago. I had no idea of what I was doing or why I was doing it. Hindsight tells me I was going through a challenging time in my life and was looking for ways to express and process my feelings. I remember the need to express myself through self-portraiture feeling urgent and persistent. The usual things most photographers thought about before shooting, like time of day, lighting, weather, and pre-planning, did not cross my mind—the need to create something overpowered and trumped all.
In the beginning, I made self-portraits to express emotions based on my feelings. I made self-portraits to feel seen and witnessed because I felt invisible. I made self-portraits to give myself a voice because I felt unheard. As time went on, my work began to evolve. I moved through and past emotion and explored storytelling. I started telling my story through self-portraiture but in an anonymous way. From there, it has evolved into what you see today. It is ever-changing, just as we are. It is boundless. Most importantly, it is a part of me.
Self-portraiture has become a tool I use to deepen my practice of self-love and self-discovery, and it has had a ripple effect on me. What do I mean by this? When I first began, I was driven by instinct—creating made me feel empowered. I didn't realize the importance of spending time with myself and was more focused on the resulting self-expression. Now, the process of creating is of vital importance to me and extends past creating self-portraits. It begins with nourishing my mind and body, and I meditate and move my body daily. I journal each morning and pull a daily tarot card asking myself- What do I need to know for my creativity today? Self-portraiture taught me how to love myself. It taught me to nurture and forgive myself. It lit a desire in me to care for myself and set a better example for my children. It made me realize the importance of putting my oxygen mask on first before helping others. It has encouraged me to look deeper inside of myself and question and explore who I am and who I want to be.
"I started telling my story through self-portraiture but in an anonymous way."
My self-portraiture acts as a visual diary, but one written in code. It's pieces of me, clues, and insights into what was occurring during that time in my life when I made each self-portrait. While they may not read like a diary to the viewer, I can piece them together and remember intimate details about each one. I know what I was doing that day and how I was feeling. As a teenager, I made up a secret written language of symbols and filled a diary with it. I could read the symbols fluently. Now, I use both personal and universal symbolism throughout my work. The meaning something has for me might be completely different from what it means to you, the viewer. We see something and connect to it in personal ways. That's the beauty of art!
My favorite tools for my work areLensbaby lenses and optics. They help me to slow down, be more present in the moment, and visualize things more creatively. Self-portraiture combined withLensbaby products has challenged me and activated and super-charged my creativity in a way that nothing else has. These lenses emphasize the beauty of imperfections. They break the rules and molds and allow you to dream big and wild. I cannot think of a better tool for self-expression and freedom in your art. UsingLensbaby lenses for my self-portraiture has been a coming home to self. It is life-changing.
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Sharon Covert resides in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, along the Jersey Shore. With a strong focus on conceptual self-portraiture, Sharon teaches multiple online classes, including her 4-week course, Expressive Self Portraiture. She believes self-portraiture helps artists process their emotions and life experiences through art and creativity while giving them a healing outlet through self-expression. Sharon's work has been published and featured in numerous magazines and juried art exhibitions worldwide. She is proud to be both a Lensbaby Ambassador and Click Pro Ambassador.