Pop Photo spotlights self-portraits, but don’t call them selfies

by Liam McCabe

posted Friday, March 21, 2014 at 10:27 AM EDT

Courtesy Klein Sun Gallery, New York. © Liu Bolin

There are selfies, and then there are self-portraits. There’s usually no duck-face in a proper self-portrait, but other than that, the possibilities are wide open to interpretation and expression.

Pop Photo interviewed five photographers about their process for capturing stunning self-portraits, from conception to execution. Each work by Liu Bolin, pictured here, "takes weeks of research, including background scouting, paint matching, and preliminary test shoots” including four hours of actually painting his body and clothes, according to the article. The photos are a form of protest against the Chinese government’s treatment of artists, which he started taking after his artists' collective in Beijing was demolished back in 2005. 

Look closely. Courtesy Klein Sun Gallery, New York. © Liu Bolin

Most self-portraits don’t take quite so much preparation, though photographers can still learn a lot about the form by practicing a few. Celebrity photographer Quantrell Colbert, whose self-portraits are mainly captured in a mirror, tells Pop Photo that self-portraiture taught him quite a lot about how to take portraits of other people. “When I see an interesting background or reflection, I start shooting and keep going until I get it right,” Colbert says. 

Check out the story over at Pop Photo for more self-shots and tips on how to elevate your own work beyond the front-facing camera on your smartphone.

(Via Pop Photo, Sun Klein Gallery)