Editor’s note: Jonny Davenport submitted this photo to the Saving Eliza project at SmugMug, and it was selected for inclusion. While Pro Photo Supply is not associated with the project or SmugMug, we felt it was important to draw attention to this cause as the photo community has rallied behind it. You can purchase prints of this and many other photos from their featured gallery and 100% of the proceeds will go directly to funding a cure for Eliza, a four-year-old girl suffering from Sanfilippo syndrome. You can read more about the project and Eliza’s story on PetaPixel.
Our second self-portrait photo contest was another hit! It’s always amazing to see the variety of ways in which people choose to present themselves, or a character of themselves. Like last year, we received so many creative entries that it was difficult to pick a winner. The one image that all judges were able to agree on was Jonny Davenport’s “Anatomy of the Self-Portrait.” We love the story it tells of the work that goes into creating a studio image, and the dark, serious lighting that is at odds with the humor of putting that same amount of work into a self-portrait. With all the roles being played by the photographer, it’s a self-portrait within a self-portrait, and it just doesn’t get any more self-portraity than that! Read on to see the full photograph and to learn more about photographer Jonny Davenport and how he made this image. Jonny will be taking home the prize of a TENBA photo bag. Be sure to enter our next monthly photo contest (which we still have yet to announce—sorry) for your chance to win your own!
Please tell us a little about yourself. What kind of photographer do you consider yourself? Enthusiast? Professional? Amateur? Weekend Warrior?
First: thank you Pro Photo Supply. You’ve kept me alive… and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. You’ve been my go-to camera store for over 15 years.
My social media byline pretty much sums it up: @jonnydavenport: photogeek, lifelong hack. I’ve been making photographs since I enrolled in a photo class just to pass high school, circa 1986. I was failing miserably and wasn’t going to graduate. My counselor said point blank: “You have one elective, choose it wisely….”
The guy who taught computers I’d had the semester before also taught photography. If you showed up, you passed. I figured, at least I can pass this class. In that high school darkroom, I found my life’s calling.
I’ve been making self portraits now for over 25 years. When people asked what kind of photography I did, I’d reply, “I make self-portraits. I shoot myself…” They’d look at me cock-eyed and say, “What? You shoot yourself?!? Are you in love with yourself or something?” As photographers, we’ve all made a self portrait… It’s cool now to see how the self-portrait has become a bit of the social norm, with even the President making selfies! But to me it’s not about a few self portraits here and there, it’s about the long haul over a lifetime. The collective body of work over 50 years, if I’m lucky.
Starting out, my inspirations were two photographers: Glen E. Friedman, legendary skate-punk photographer and fashion photographer, Philip Dixon.
I quickly realized I was going to be neither, and after a couple of years found myself asking customers if they would like 3 1/2×5 matte or 4×6 glossy in an hour or the next day. I’ve worked all over the photo industry and stood on both sides of the counter. Photography is my life. It’s really all I know. I’m what you might call a professional-amateur. Laugh, yeah, but that’s the truth. I don’t make a living off of my photographs. I’ve got mad respect for those who do!
At my day job, I work for a local photography software company, onOne. We make plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom & Aperture and are a standalone image editing application.
What techniques and gear did you use to create this image?
This was shot in our studio with a borrowed Nikon D700 and 20mm lens tethered to a MacBook Pro via Lightroom. Lighting was created using Profoto ProDaylight 800 Air HMI light kit (from Pro Photo Supply’s rental department). The props are my 8×10 view camera and Hasselblad 500cm.
I’m a bit of a gearhead and film lover. I actually don’t own a DSLR. I have way too many crazy esoteric film cameras. I love what the Impossible Project is doing. That’s what I’m primarily shooting with these days, old polaroid cameras.
After having all of my photo gear stolen years ago, a friend gave me a crappy point and shoot camera. And I thought, ‘yeah, I am a photographer… No one’s gonna take me seriously with this thing.’ But i started shooting with it and showing my photographs and began to realize that it isn’t the gear you have that makes your photographs, it’s your eye, it’s your heart. It really freed me. Gear is nice, but don’t think that because you don’t have the latest or the greatest you can’t make great photographs with what you have.
Tell us about the post production process for this image. What software did you use, what adjustments did you make (if any)?
I used onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite to create the ‘anatomy of the self-portrait’ image. Specifically: Perfect Layers, Perfect Mask & Perfect Effects. I’ve been using Photoshop for almost 20 years and I know enough to be dangerous. I pride myself on the fact that I am a complete hack and have no idea what I’m doing. That’s what i love about the software we create at onOne: its advanced Photoshop techniques for the rest of us. Compositing was done with Layers and Mask, and the cross-processed look and tonality adjustments were done in Perfect Effects.
Where can people go to see more of your work?
I’m more than happy to share any of my photographic experience.
Thanks for your time!
Thanks Pro Photo Supply! And a shoutout to all the amazing people, photographers and friends I’ve made having walked through your store’s doors.