There is a moment in film called a "Reveal". It is that moment when the central character first steps “On Stage". It may be the first moment when that character is seen or it may be later in the development of the storyline. The important part is that it must have impact.
There are a lot of great “Reveals”, the moment in that dungeon-like psychiatric hospital when Clarice Starling first meets Hannibal Lecter in the Silence of the Lambs, the moment when Christine rips the mask off Erik in the Phantom of the Opera, (Lon Chaney version is best but the Herbert Lom isn’t bad), or the one by which all “Reveals” are now and will forever be measured by, when Harry Lime steps out of the doorway shadow in The Third Man.
Yeppers that was a moment! It had instant impact and the rest of the film is really about whether you have so strongly identified with Harry Lime that you want him to get away or whether you want the forces of Good to bring the villain down. (Clearly the former won, when the Third Man was adapted for television in the Fifties Harry was the Hero. Credit Orson Wells for making even a black marketer seem appealing!)
So, what are you doing to make your “Reveal” have impact?
You think for one minute that just being an artist is enough? There are thousands of folks out there doing art and trying like hell to get the attention of the buying public. You think you can compete with the ZZ Top-like bearded buffoons of Duck Dynasty with a passport photo?
Sorry, but this is one aspect of art where you do have to put aside the tools of the trade, get out your shiny shark-skin suit, your snap-brim hat and fire up those creative juices and find a perfect plan for getting attention from a public which has the attention span of a gnat.
Now you could do it like a Kardashian and just make a sex tape. Accidentally of course and let it be leaked. (Those poor paparazzi running from a half-naked Kanye West waving a memory card and shouting about the secret sex-tape that no one knows about but he is going to leave it out for them to discover just as soon as they stop for breath.)
You could do that and it certainly gets attention. Just imagine what the Gabor girls could have accomplished if only there had been inexpensive video when they were trying to get started. Instead of taking beauty, charm and intelligence to serial marry their way to the top they just could have lost a sex tape!
So yes, you could do that and of course being an artist and knowing the double secret secret that the best model is the artist, who will work cheap, is always available and can be yanked out of bed when inspiration strikes you could use yourself in just such an impact filled way.
Remember this, once it s on the Internet it stays forever. Sure you have that nifty, neat and cool nude you did as a study in art school or for a mural or for the nice monks at the Trappist monastery, but is that the right sort of impact for your business of art?
Okay, maybe not, but don’t ditch the idea altogether. Self portraits are a good idea if they aren’t nekkid, aren’t like mug shots and aren’t like passport photos. (Sort of explains why so many people get rousted by the TSA. Using a passport photo for identification is like asking to be sent to Gitmo)
Why not just use a photo?
Well coming from a photographer this may sound strange, but there are many reasons the best of which are, photos take a slice out of time which may no longer be the best image of who and what you are. God knows I have pictures taken many eons ago which would scare the living daylights out of Freddy Kruger.
So when you pick an image make sure that it clearly projects what you want as a selling point for your art.
And second and probably most importantly, anything which goes up on the Internet is there forever. You may get tired of it, you may get plastic surgery, you may grow up and decide that those dark black lips just aren’t you any more, but the Internet won’t care it is there FOREVER.
Also since this is your first contact image, shouldn’t it present you in a way which promotes your work?
I have a coupla images I use, both of which have impact and both have a sort of relationship to my mug, and yet neither tells the whole story. And they won’t ever wind up on a driver’s license in another state.
No not exactly a mug shot, not even a head shot which is the tool actors use for promoting their calling but they both have an image which connects to my work and creates a different look for my “reveal” and says a bit about the core of my craft, photography and digitally manipulated images.
Remember when someone meets you on the Internet they don’t know squat about you except for the text and the images you use to promote yourself.
Just this once act like Miley Cyrus, no act like Pink, the master manipulator of the media, create an unforgettable image and then go off and be a middle-class, homemaker and laugh your ass off at how easily the media can be led by the nose.
Do the leading and manipulating and not the sex tape. It’s the best plan in the long run.