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Selfie vs Self-portrait - Creating a 19th Century Photograph using Modern Technology

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Keywords: selfie, photograph, Cyanotype
Subject(s): Chemistry, Technology, Photography, Art, Journalism
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Live Oak High School, Watson, LA
Planned By: Sara Sicona
Original Author: Sara Sicona, Watson

Cyanotype Assignment
‘Selfie’ vs Self-Portraiture
An Exploration in Identity

Cyanotype Tips

When exposing your images you need to be aware of these three variables; (1) time of day; (2) time of year; and (3) if your image is in direct sunlight. Watch as your print exposes by looking for changes in the color of the emulsion.
Buy good quality watercolor paper such as Canson® or Strathmore®
Experiment with different objects and their opacities. You never know what may come out looking great.
Go slow--this process requires a lot of patience.
Watch out for rain. Water droplets will contaminate emulsion and leave unpleasant water stains.

How do you see yourself? Does a ‘selfie’ covey the real YOU? Or it is superficial façade?
Think about composition and how a selfie tends to evoke it’s own style and composition of figures.
Ask yourself, what are the aesthetic choices a photographer makes when making a compelling self-portrait?

How can you distinguish the difference between a self and a self-portrait?

Look at photographic artists who specialize in self-portraiture
Cindy Sherman
Nan Golden
Francesca Woodman

You are not limited to just photographic self-portraiture. Other mediums can give insight into a compelling self-portrait.

Using your cellphone camera or DSLR camera, take five self-portraits--NOT SELFIES--and choose the most compelling image to change to a digital negative for a cyanotype contact print.

*** Examples of lesson plan images are shown in my Master's Thesis and my website.***
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The Cyanotype process uses chemical reactions to UV light. This assignment could work wonderfully with a Chemistry lab. The active chemicals
Links: http://sarasicona.weebly.com/a-high-school-photographic-curriculum-for-the-21st-century-student/august-02nd-2017
Materials: Digital SLR, Tripods
Other Items: 5 DSLR or point and shoot camera, $100-500 each
5 Tripods, $100 each, total of $500.00