At selfPortrait, Katherine Caddy tells the stories of photographers and artists who step in front of their lens. We asked Katherine about her beautifully designed new site and what’s in store for selfPortrait’s inaugural year.
Tell us about your background. Why did you launch a digital magazine devoted to self-portrait photography?
I studied art history at the University of York. As a student, I ran a digital magazine called Yorkshire Art Journal (also on WordPress.com), and through this I became interested in telling the stories of artists and curating unique content online. I then got into arts marketing before working as assistant editor of Ceramic Review, an international magazine on ceramic art, based in London.
Through selfPortrait, I’m able to branch out and tell the stories of artists from across the globe. I’m also a self-portrait photographer myself, and fully appreciate this beautiful, challenging medium. I understand it both as a maker and a writer, so it seems only natural to combine the two.
We live in a time that is saturated with selfies. How does that impact the way you approach the magazine — and your own work?
I find the word “selfie” and our notions of it as a society today fascinating. Sometimes people use it like a dirty word. But when you really analyze the history of self-portraiture and its development, one cannot totally separate artistic “self-portraiture” and the social media-driven “selfie.” Both are ultimately driven by a desire to represent one’s self in a certain way; to frame one’s appearance; to capture an emotion, a look, a moment. Sure, the resulting image varies wildly from camera phone to more traditional approaches, but the same essence of self-capturing is there in both forms. We’ll certainly be exploring these themes in the magazine over the months ahead.
In a short time, you’ve introduced readers to interesting, up-and-coming photographers around the world. How do you find candidates to feature? What types of photographers and work catch your eye?
Flickr was my go-to research tool at first. I joined the site when I began taking photographs around 2010, and though I use it less now, I’m still connected with lots of wonderful artists for whom self-portraiture remains a big part of their work. Using tags on social media to find who is tapping into the medium right now also helps me to commission a rich range of content on individual artists and exhibitions worldwide.
If it’s clever, emotive, tells a story, or does something new, we’ll look for a way of sharing it.
Personally, I’m drawn to work that has authenticity to it: stuff that explores a real narrative, and if not real, a carefully constructed fictional one. I’m very into film photography, and work which is striking without having been tampered with too much. As this is a magazine which has, and will continue to have, international scope and an inclusive attitude, I’m careful to present stories which are representative of what’s well-loved across the spectrum of artistic style and approach. If it’s clever, emotive, tells a story, or does something new, we’ll look for a way of sharing it.
Tell us about the first issue, forthcoming this summer. What should we expect? How do you view the content published on the site in the meantime?
Issue 1 of selfPortrait will be a standalone magazine in PDF (and in limited-edition print in the UK only).
I get a rush of excitement just thinking about it. This July, we’ll release issue 1 of selfPortrait magazine, the theme for which is “Faceless.” I can’t give away too much at this stage, but our lead features are beyond what I dreamed of for our first issue, and tell stories of incredible artists from the UK, US, China, and Germany.
Beyond this, it is my aim that we’ll always publish stories on the website that complement the magazine and respond to what is going on right now in self-portrait photography across the globe. There are just too many beautiful exhibitions to feature and artists’ work to share to limit this to a biannual magazine! Our social media helps us to do this, too, of course.
What’s one challenge you face as you establish the magazine and grow the site?
The major challenge for me as I build this shiny new publication and its brand, design, and audience, is money. This is why I’ve set up a Patreon account for the magazine, so that our dear followers and new fans can access selfPortrait’s lovely exclusive content, and consequently help us to grow. I hope that as our audience establishes, so too will the strength of our community there, and consequently the quality and scale of our offering.
You’re using the clean, minimal Suidobashi theme. What were you looking for in a design, and why did you choose this theme?
I love this theme. Designed by Elmastudio, Suidobashi perfectly sets off the content of selfPortrait in its crispness and through the white space it provides. This is ideal for showcasing photography, as we want the images to be allowed to speak for themselves and for them to sit on a page without too many colors or distractions.
How can people contact you if they have recommendations or would like to be featured themselves?
The best way to reach the magazine is to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or use the tag #selfportraitmag on Instagram and Twitter to say hello, interact with our content, and show us your best self-portrait photography.
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