Self-Portraits, Reading

“At dinner I laughed with the rest,
but in truth I prefer the sound
of pages turning….”

From After the Dinner Party by Jane Kenyon

I turned 60 in August, and as a commemoration and celebration, I wanted to do a self-portrait project. Instead of photographing what I look like, I decided to try to photograph my inner self. The best way I could do that was to photograph everything that I read during the summer of 2005.

Reading is my favorite pastime. I read everything: newspapers, magazines, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journals, anything that I can pick up. Sometimes I find myself looking through the dictionary if nothing else is around. I read whenever I have a spare moment: at meals by myself, at night in bed, in the bathroom, on airplanes, in the car (as a passenger), in waiting rooms. I have a stack of books by my bed and on the kitchen table. I am an inveterate under-liner, so there is always a pencil near my books.

My challenge for this series was to bring something of my inner self, my personality to these photographs while at the same time making them visually interesting. Who is the woman reading the article about anxiety? What kind of art does she enjoy? What does she read on vacation? What newspaper articles interest her? Does she ever get out?


Phyllis Finley © 2006 all rights reserved