We’re beginning to experience yet another surge in coronavirus cases, so more people are surely finding ways to entertain themselves for who knows how much longer. Many have already steered toward new hobbies that are far from anything they’ve done before. But others will stick to what they know — like Los Angeles-based photographer Linnea Bullion, who has kept busy with a photography project that requires only herself: a series of eccentric self-portraits that give us a glimpse into her multifaceted personality.
Although she’s been able to focus a lot of her time on them during the pandemic, Bullion’s self-portraits actually began after she graduated from college and moved back to her parents’ home in Minnesota. She wanted to work on her lighting techniques but didn’t know how to ask people to model for her. It also took away the added pressure of having to impress someone other than herself.
Her self-portraits are an entirely one-woman production. From the set to the costume design, Bullion creates everything herself — aside from the few props her friends help with. Most of the costumes or outfits she wears in her portraits are already in her closet. Sometimes, the clothes are what inspire her portraits. Other times, she finds inspiration from Cindy Sherman’s early work, such as “Untitled Film Stills.”
Here’s what she has to say:
“In my house growing up, we couldn’t watch TV during the school week, which made me that much more fond of marathoning movies on the weekends. So I think these self-portraits allow me to fulfill that common childhood fantasy of being a movie star in my own way. Looking back through the ones I’ve made during quarantine, I’m realizing that most if not all of them have direct ties to films (especially the ’90s makeover and obviously the “Sixteen Candles” birthday cake re-creation).
“A lot of these images came from ideas I’ve been mulling over for a long time, but during stay-at-home, I’ve had fewer distractions and/or excuses to stop myself from making them. There was no 'other thing’ I had to shoot anymore when everything came to a screeching halt, and it was so overwhelming watching covid-19 spread and worrying about getting others sick (especially in those first few months) that I didn’t want to photograph anyone but myself.
“They were also a way to stay positive. I’ve had my fair share of breakdowns throughout 2020, but self-portraits were a way to have fun and forget, even if just for a moment, the craziness happening around us. I mean, heck: I got to be a cowgirl, an astronaut, Molly Ringwald (AND Jake Ryan), and myself in the seventh grade. It was pure escapism. Little worlds I made for myself. Characters whose plans weren’t interrupted by a pandemic. It’s hard to quantify the loss that this year has brought the world, the country, the city, my peers, and even just myself. At least I was able to make something to help me cope.”
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