Shadow Self

Back when I was in design school one of my senior projects was a series of black and white portraits. This was way before digital and I selenium toned and printed them on 11×14 rag paper. It’s a bit fascinating to me that aside from a short stint as a wedding photographer I’ve only shot a handful of serious portraits since. Not sure what’s up with that, but threads can probably be traced to my innate shyness around pointing my lens at human beings, including myself.

But taking pictures of my shadow? This is altogether different.

I’m fascinated by the shadows we cast, and how the people who seem the burn the brightest tend to throw the deepest and often the longest outlines.

Outlines – that makes me think of boundaries and comfort zones and how our comfort zones often overlap within our shadows, preventing us from stepping into the light and allowing ourselves and our work to be noticed.

There is work we can only do by going within and working in the ebony world of aloneness. Artists often protect their alone time. We know that solitude, focus, and silence help sharpen the aperture. Not much of the world can seep in through that tiny hole. With fewer distractions, we tend to get more and better work done.

But there is work that can only be done in the light of community, with each other. This balance between the light and the dark, the yin and the yang, prevents us from becoming too myopic, bland, and at worst, depressive.

There’s always a tension betwixt that light and dark, especially for the introvert. who often digs the most beautiful gems from deep within the cave of aloneness. I think the secret lies in skating along that edge, allowing it to blur a bit. It’s a line where the sun rises and sets and is always in transition.


Photo Credits:  Shadow Self #3, by Susan J. Preston, Santa Fe, NM © 2018, all rights reserved
Technical: iPhone 6