“Lockdown Self Portrait” by Mike Glyde

I am a purely amateur photographer who loves all elements of photography and never stops learning or trying new things. For over 35 years photography has been one of my principal hobbies, since getting my first proper camera, an Olympus OM10 in the 1980s.

I now work for an international consulting company as a heritage consultant. We have an internal photography group that holds monthly themed competitions, which I manage and try and share my passion for the art. A recent theme that came up was Self Portraits.

Simple enough I thought and proceeded to take over the living room, as I have no studio space I set up a simple two light rig (a mix of Godox studio light with honeycomb and barn doors and slaved flash) with a dark sheet for the background. Basic and simple. I was content to do the predictable self-portrait poses, ones that people will recognise from seeing me day to day at work etc.

I started taking pictures of me smiling, pulling a face, showing off my tattoos, but as fine as these images were, they all looked fake and not genuine.

I felt I was missing the point. And then the penny dropped, this is a SELF portrait. To be true to myself I needed photograph me as I am now, tired, mad unruly hair as I need a haircut, but all the barbers are closed due to lockdown. I am overweight, more so since lockdown, so no hiding it under baggy clothes. I suffer from depression and while I always seem to be putting on a smile and put others first, inside I am not always like that. As do many folk, I have self-image problems that are linked to my depression.

If I was to photograph the real me, I needed to show my warts and all. I took my shirt off so people could see me in the raw, so to speak

The image here captures me more accurately than any photo of myself that I have seen, and I felt I had captured something special. It is important to note that my wife hates it!

I deliberated sharing the image for the reasons above and it took quite a bit of courage to share it in the FRAMES Facebook Group, but wow, I was so taken aback by the comments not only about the image but about me as well.

So this is me, Mike Glyde, on the morning of 7th of March 2021. Worn out, scruffy and chubby, but hanging on.

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Honesty is the key to this image. This is me at a moment in time, no putting on a fake smile, or spending any time preparing myself to look my best, it is me and I think my real personality comes through.

Although the lighting is simple, the set up was two lights, main studio light and a slaved flash to rear side for separation. I took a few shots like this but for this particular image the flash had not recycled in time before I triggered the studio light. This gave a much more contrasty single light image with greater shadows that I think actually improved the impact. So in some ways this image was a happy accident!

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would possibly try to light my mad hair a bit better. I had to lift this in post a bit to make it stand out of the shadows a bit. When doing self portraits it not always easy to notice this sort of thing!

Mike Glyde shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Mike Glyde, Worcestershire, UK

Equipment and settings

Nikon D7100 + Nikkor AF-S DX 18-105mm – tethered to my laptop so I could see via live view that I was sitting in frame. The camera was wirelessly connected to a Godox SK400 with a 7-inch reflector fitted with a honeycomb and barn doors to focus the light onto me an minimize the spill of light. A white reflector was to my right low down to help fill the shadows a little. A Yongnuo flash would have provided separation light if it fired! The photo was taken in my living room with a dark grey sheet suspended in front of the sofa to create clean background.

1/100sec, f/11, ISO100

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Comments (1):

  1. Desiree Day

    June 2, 2021 at 18:53

    Thanks Mike for daring to share. Your self portrait is wonderful because it IS you & is also a good photograph! And your story speaks right to my heart ❤️.
    Thanks again!


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