Art

A Selfie in the Head Case

I will do strange things to mask my awkwardness in front of cameras! If I’m not deadpanning to the camera with a ball flying into my face, I’m stuck in a rusted-out fridge in the woods. Basically, I’m restless, and like to be entertained.

Interview by Lora Wiley - Photos by Kajia Straumanis kleine_moewe@yahoo.com

Photographer Kaija Straumanis takes the selfie to self abuse. Her funny, action packed self portraits have gone global. We had to ask her why she wanted to throw things at her head. 

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

 

Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 28 years old, Latvian-American, and originally from Minnesota. Now I live in Rochester, NY, and am the editor at Open Letter Books, an indie publisher that publishes literature in translation.

What’s the real reason you decided to throw stuff at your head and photograph it?
I’m not actually throwing the things at my head—the shots are composites of multiple frames that I piece together in Photoshop. The reason I went with this idea of looking like stuff was thrown at my head is simple enough: I had decided to start a second “365 Project” via Flickr, and after a few weeks of planning thought setting up a “hit to the head” shot would be entertaining. That proved to be right!

 

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Is there a requirement for what type of object to throw you use for the photos?
No real requirement. It helps if the physics of the object hitting something are easy to visualize and mimic by mashing it into your face for a still frame. The kickball was just something I found in the basement; the glass was something I broke on accident at home; the other things are just fun, or have a seasonal theme to them.

There are a lot of young artists out there creating incredible self portrait work, was this series meant to poke fun of that?
God no! I started my first 365 project because of so many great photographers doing self-portraits. I wanted to try doing my own self-portraits and break out of my comfort zone a little with being in front of the camera as opposed to behind it. Everyone’s projects and approaches are going to be different—I don’t consider myself graceful, so while I do have many self-portraits that have some semblance of “gentle artistry” or seriousness to them, my best angle is my humor, so I often default to that. And actually, the photos were never a straight series, but are pulled from that second, unfinished 365…

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

What do these pictures say about your personality?
I will do strange things to mask my awkwardness in front of cameras! If I’m not deadpanning to the camera with a ball flying into my face, I’m stuck in a rusted-out fridge in the woods. Basically, I’m restless, and like to be entertained (within reason).

Were you surprised by how popular these self portraits have become? What was your reaction when they started picking up steam online?
Very surprised! My first reaction was confusion, then it was just amusing and kind of exciting. People have been really nice in their questions and comments about the pictures, and I’m glad I could put some smiles and laughter into their day. Describe your production process for one of these photos. After I figure out which object I’m going to use, I go out to a local park or someplace else convenient and start shooting. Several frames are of just me, then I start to incorporate the object, press it against my head and play with facial expressions and what the physics of actually getting hit might look like—at what angle the object would hit me, would any pieces fly off and where, etc. Then I go home and load it all into Photoshop and start piecing things together. Have there been any copycats? Not entirely that I know of… Though there was one photo class somewhere that tried to replicate the pictures by actually throwing balls at each other. Then they learned the moment of impact was Photoshopped—and then it was just funny. They did a good job, though! And I guess were pretty brave.

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Which is your favorite photo in the series?
The kickball. It’s my first “head-shot” and I was so thrilled and proud with how it turned out.

Any kooky ideas for your next series?
I do want to continue this series, but I’m not sure when. Other than that I don’t really know!

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

pumpkin

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Photo: Kajia Straumanis

Comments are closed.