Through The Lens is an inspiring series of interviews and posts that explore creative people who use photography in personal projects and in extraordinary ways.
I’m excited to introduce you to Rina Dweck. She is the creator of Project Face, a fan page and art piece on Facebook where she has committed to changing her profile picture on Facebook every single day for an entire year. Originally a painter, she decided to venture into the world of photography so that she was able to have a mode of self expression that kept her committed to her work on a daily basis. Besides the commitment to 365 days of self-portraiture, Rina actually transform herself with makeup and costumes every single day before snapping that photo . Each mini scene triggers the viewer to feel delighted, somber, moved, nostalgic, and simply amazed, whether she is channeling Madonna, “Tilly” of Asbury Park, a Ghetto Jew from Nazi Germany, or a homeless person on the street,
I welcome Rina Dweck..
How did you begin your journey into photography?
I don’t even consider myself a photographer really. I graduated in ’98 with a BS in Studio Art from NYU with my focus being painting. I had been painting steadily up until last year, when I decided to make the shift. I felt like I needed a boost in my work. I needed to find my voice again and I needed to work daily, which was difficult for me to do with the responsibilities of raising a family. The idea to change my profile shot every day literally came to me one day while I was parking my car. I went home later that day, grabbed some makeup and my trusty iPhone, and the rest is history. I view my work as being a living painting that I just happen to capture on film.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I really am a pop culture and media fanatic. I love to absorb the world around me and take it all in. The aesthetic of the things we are surrounded by really turns me on. I like to go back in time as well and explore ideas/artists/moments/influences that helped to mold me into the human being I am today.
What is your process for prepping yourself for each mini photo shoot?
One of the reasons I label this as self portraiture is because I plan “Project Face” around my already existing life. My family comes first, and the Project comes after that. Sometimes these two parts of my life even collide! There have been many a time that my husband or one of my kids takes the shot. friends and family also provide me with feedback before I post. I might have time one morning to work on something elaborate for a couple of hours, and on another day be doing a shot at 10 PM that takes me 30 minutes . It all depends on what kind of day/week/month I am having. I try to prep shots as much as possible in terms of materials and locations in advance to make it easier, but with the way life goes, it doesn’t always get planned precisely. I remind myself constantly that as a result of not always being prepared, there is a freshness or sometimes “Guerilla ” quality to the work that keeps things exciting and different.
What is your favorite step?
I really do enjoy the process from beginning to end, but I would have to say that the transformation work is definitely the best part. Even if I am exhausted and working late at night, I put myself in front of that mirror to change my appearance, and it’s like meditation to me. The rhythm really calms me.
Before the shoot do you map out in your mind how the shoot will play out, or simply let the shoot unfold itself?
So, as I stated earlier, sometimes it’s planned meticulously, like when I tackle theme weeks. Other days, I either haven’t planned well, or have decided not to plan purposely. On those days, I work on the fly, and many times I get my best shots that way.
On days when you are feeling “dry” artistically, how do you refresh your artistic self?
I go to my journal where I keep lists of ideas to refer to. Then I usually google images related to those ideas and collect them as inspirational material. Google is my muse. Youtube is also a great resource. You can learn to do anything on Youtube! Sometimes when I’m stuck, I also just plop myself in front of the mirror and play!
How have you grown from this project?
It’s really made me appreciate the ideas of knowledge and patience. I have learned and absorbed so much over the years, and I am able to utilize and refer to what I know all within one Project. I also realize that self educating is just as important as going to an accredited institution. Sometimes you just have to throw yourself in to make things happen.
How has self-portrature change the way you view yourself?
As you can imagine, I know myself pretty intimately now! Spending that much time on myself has not only allowed me to examine the physical, but also my psyche from the inside out. I’ve also become an expert poser and actress trying to channel all those characters within me!
Why self-portraits? (You could have committed to a photo-a-day project that many people do)
Well, first of all people usually expect your profile picture to be of you, so that they can identify that they have befriended the right person. The idea of taking pictures of myself appealed to me because I feel that growing up as an only child, I have alway been comfortable with introspection. Having had the type of life where I was dependent on myself for many things, having alone time is not only something that I cherish, but an absolute necessity.
What are your opinions on creativity (how do you nurture it, do you believe we are all creative? Etc. etc.)
I do believe that as humans we are all creative beings. I find that especially in the US, people place creativity into a box restricted only to people that are “artists”. This is very much a part of our culture and something that needs to be changed. We all have a voice and a way that we self express. We need to be taught that early on so that we can realize that there is art in all that we do, and that it should be tapped into and embraced, not suppressed or restricted to a certain group. You don’t always have to be an artist of a specific kind to embrace creativity. There are many musicians who can’t sing, but they can express themselves musically through another instrument or by composing. There are people who aren’t musical at all and still sing their hearts out for the sheer enjoyment of it! Being expressive builds your soul. I believe in getting out there and doing as much as you can to learn more about art in its different forms, whether it be music, art, dance, etc. The more we understand expression as a race the better off we are.
Rina, thank you for this awesome interview!!! You can see Rina’s project at http://www.facebook.com/PRJCTFACE