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  • Arden Carlyle

Photo Assignment 1: Self Portrait


Arden Eiland lays in the doorway of her closet creating a fashion collage from magazine scraps in Dallas, Texas on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. (Arden Eiland/SMU)


For my first photography assignment in this course, I wanted to showcase my creativity. I am very passionate about photography and magazine/fashion photography. I have countless screenshots and folders on Pinterest and Instagram of shoots I like or pieces that inspire me. I also keep a running entry in my note’s app of locations, themes, and ideas of shoots I would like to bring to life. My brain never stops thinking about it. I honestly think about it everywhere I go and in whatever I do, how I would capture the exact moment I am experiencing if I had my camera in my hand. I think about how I would display pieces to photograph, how I would make use of the light and what the models would be doing. It consumes me. Which is why it took me so long to try and figure out what exactly I wanted to showcase as my self portrait. There is only one place to start. So, I take you to my closet. I don’t want this to sound as shallow or snobby as its going to, however, my closet is my most favorite place. Not for the pieces it possesses but for the outlet it provides. I knew I wanted to showcase it in this assignment because it is what sparked this fire in me for my passion for fashion photography. It all started with that Celine kitten poster you see hung up in the middle of my closet. My mom taped that to my ceiling when I was in seventh grade. At the time I asked why she would ever think it would look normal to just tape a page from a magazine onto my wall. By eighth grade the entire ceiling of my closet was coated two and three times over with magazine cut outs or images I liked so much that I printed. They were pictures of people I admired, articles of clothing I liked, and insane styles of fashion or shoots that exude creativity. This served as my personal fashion mood board and invoked a passion I hope to turn into my career. By the end of eighth grade I had created this very site, XOArden.com. It provided me a place where I could post any of my ideas on fashion, create and share the editorials I made like that of my ceiling and so many more. At 13, it gave me experiences like leading a workshop at a summit for teen girls on SMU’s campus. At 14, it allowed me to make profit as I grew a following and was able to become a LikeToKnowIt creator. The collage in my closet you can see in the photo is one I put together Summer of 2020. The original advertisement for Celine from 2016 still stands today in its original spot years later. Ways in which I succeeded in this project is I was able to showcase and include many items that help me express my identity. This is my bedroom of my parents here in Dallas. I now live in my sorority house on SMU’s campus, but we have lived in this home since 2014. My house is very special to me also because I love antique pieces and history. My house was built in 1926 on Beverly drive. I love the historical aspect of our house and it’s a very special place for me. The story of the fashion collage that I shared above, as well as my photography portfolio Infront of me, my bulletin board that has letters, pictures, concert wristbands, and more. The picture also exhibits two hats on mannequin heads behind me. These two are very special to me because I received them from my great-grandmother, Alice, hence my middle name and the reason for the pink cowgirl boots pictured beside me to also serve as an ode to my family’s history in West Texas. The antique brass valet stand pictured on the right was also once Alice’s. I wanted to include this as well because it helps me visualize and practice ways I could photograph pieces in

a shoot. I credit my love and interest in colors and colorway stems from the fact that my room is covered in this Lily Pulitzer fabric that my mom insisted on using for my bedroom in sixth grade, of which I also was against at first- clearly my mom is due lots of credit to inspiring my passions. Also because of her I am very strategic in the way in which I exhibit my clothes. I like to think of my closet like my own store, where I get to organize and display my belongings. I also wanted to include my initials on my purse at the front of this picture. I included the Carrie Diaries book at the front of the picture to help allude to the television show and book that I also accredit to helping in invoking my interest in a career in fashion. I was very intentional in the pieces laid before me in the image and what is around me. My mom’s furs and silk scarves are included as an ode to her in the large part she plays in my inspiring my passion. I struggled a little bit with the camera settings. When looking at it on computer screen and on the screen of the camera this picture is clear. However, when I was shooting earlier not at my house, I noticed it is grainy. I need to take it to a shop and get it looked at because I have checked out books, watched videos, done everything to fix it myself and I think it could be better. This is something I have always struggled with when using my own camera but never when using the ones from my high school Yearbook office, which is where I was able to explore photography most. I think I did a good job on lighting, but I also could have included more personal pieces as well, but I didn’t want to overwhelm the “set”. I also ran into the issue of a lot of my items I would have used for this was on campus and I was at my parents’ house, and vice versa. I started off this assignment taking pictures at my room at my sorority house and quickly realized it would be much more personable at my own house. I did a project last semester in my photography class where I recreated photobooth like photographs. Combining my interest in film photography and antiques this proved to be successful. I couldn’t use those pictures though because they were like a real self-portrait, but I want to spend more time in photographing people through photobooth like shots or where people are in a state of themselves like I was able to express through this first assignment.

Thank you for reading!

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