The Swap Portrait Project

The Swap Portrait Project

Some months ago Stuart Pilkington, a London-based curator of online photography projects, invited me to participate in The Swap. As Stuart explains the project, The Swap is “a very simple concept. On two separate days two photographers photograph each other and create two portraits.  On day one, person one is the photographer and the other is the subject and on day two they swap roles so that the photographer becomes the subject and visa versa.”

For one of my swaps (I have two) I chose Rachel Wolfe, whose work I came across in Fraction Magazine. Because she is pursuing an MFA in photography in Los Angeles and I live in the Seattle area, I proposed we exchange photographs of ourselves and re-photograph them as we pleased.

Rachel chose to work with a photograph my father took when I was six. An inveterate costume maker, he turned my American Flyer into a circus wagon and filled it with several puppies our family dog had whelped.  The snapshot captures me as I prepared to walk in the town Fourth of July parade. Rachel has transformed the snapshot into a stunning, uncanny portrait.

For my part, I dug out my homemade multiple-pinhole camera, last used in 1998, to create a portrait of Rachel. In a yoga pose and two-piece bathing suit, she appears deep in blissful meditation, untroubled by the looming leaves and garden snow.