A photo per day for July (Part XV): Self-Portrait – A collaboration between Richards Guest and Cooper-Knight

Self-Portrait: A collaboration between Richard Guest and Richard Cooper-Knight.

The sixth in our series of collaborations has, I think, found us with our biggest challenge to date…

Richard Guest: The Last Time I Saw Richard, 2012


My initial reaction to Richard’s brief was, “oh no!”, because I’ve studiously avoided being identified on The Future etc etc. Then I thought, “be sneaky, don’t show your face.” So I tried lots of avoidance tactics – laying my clothes out on the bed as if I’d just vacated them, altering my features in Photoshop, but neither worked very well because they were cop-outs. So I started messing around with mirrors in an attempt to present a jumbled-up version of my features, thus preserving a bit of unrecognisability. It didn’t really work either, but I quite like this shot.

Having worried about it, I discovered that both Frivolous Monsters and John Pindar had both recently unmasked themselves, so we’re in good company.

Richard Cooper-Knight: Introspective

Although I had set this fortnight’s theme, I was quite hesitant about doing it. One of the main reasons I am into my photography is that I hate being the other side of the camera, having my picture taken. It may seem odd that in the jobs I’ve done in my life – DJ, trainer – I stand in front of people drawing them in. To my mind, however, that’s being done in a professional capacity – it’s a mask I’m wearing, I’m hiding behind the role, as it were.

So to strip that bare, Self Portrait was stepping outside of my comfort zone. Well, not stepping outside, more like picking up my comfort zone, screwing it up into a tight ball, throwing it into the middle of a landfill and setting off in search of a new comfort zone altogether.

My concern was the technical side: getting the camera set up, focused, composition correct, timer on, all to take the shot on my own. It took several (well, several dozen) attempts until I was comfortable with the settings. I could then start playing around with the shot itself. I tried profiles, unusual angles, smiles, frowns, ‘angry teacher’ shots looking over my glasses and, while I was happy with some of the shots I’d taken, none of them quite did it for me. They were all too revealing for my liking. So I went back to the drawing board, and, after several more attempts, I came up with this image. One I’m happy with, not too revealing, but quirky enough to reflect my nature.

Oh, and Introspective? The last of a fortnight’s Pet Shop Boys titles, and the name of their 1998 dance album.


  1. Love your portrait, Richard – really nice balance – and more revealing in a way than a full portrait. And, ha, ha, the two shots work really well together yet again! 🙂 Are you up for another?

  2. This idea of identity is interesting in blogging. Generally blogs are a controlled release of information. Is a self-portrait over-stepping a line? too much at once? Or is it a photographer’s shyness?

    • I stick to my theory that it’s a dislike of attention. Being in front of the camera scares me in some ways, but being in control – as I mentioned, when I used to DJ, or when I train, or even when I act as a wedding photographer – allows me to put up a front, to hide behind a job description. People know what to expect of those ‘roles’, so it’s easier to work with that.

  3. Fantastic images. I’m not a fan of traditional portraiture but the exclusionary aspact of these images makes them interesting and full of mystery. You are the mystery men.

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