Last Updated on 09/07/2023 by Chris Gampat
“It’s our freedom of choice to share or not share. To be seen or to hide,” explains the creator of my12seconds. While the name is protected by an alias, the person is exposed for all to see. Inspired by the limitations of lockdown, this photographer used the opportunity to rediscover herself. With only 12 seconds to create a frame, she was intrigued by the journey of the unknown. How will the images come out? Let’s take a look.
All images by my12seconds. Used with permission.
Phoblographer: Let’s start with the name: Why is the series (and your alias) called my12seconds?
my12seconds: 12 seconds is the time that I have between the moment I click manually on my Leica M8, and the shot being taken. Basically, that’s the M8 timer.
Phoblographer: What was the main inspiration to start a self-portrait project?
my12seconds: During the first lockdown in Switzerland, I started to photograph again (that’s another story, but I hadn’t used my camera for a long time). At first, I simply wanted an up to date picture of myself. Not a selfie. As I was reconnecting with my M8, remembering there was a timer, I wanted to give self-portraits a try – “don’t die ignorant”, you know? I was excited to try something new.
I loved that I could take control while also enjoying a new challenge with the timer. It meant I was free, but with certain rules (mainly the rule of time). Also, it gave me a new area of creativity.
Phoblographer: What impact has the series had on how you feel about your image and your body?
my12seconds: That is, for sure, very personal. The impact is never the same. Although I can show myself in front of the camera , I don’t feel comfortable talking about my feelings. However, I believe that, at the very beginning, I was trying to find myself again, as a woman. And it helped.
Phoblographer: You’re using the Leica M8: Tell us why you like the camera and what it means to you?
my12seconds: The Leica M8 was the first camera I was introduced to. Someone gave it to me as a gift because he believed I had a great eye for photographs. (He saw pictures I made with my phone.) The connection was immediate. It was like my hands, heart, and eyes found something they already knew, something they were used to. It really felt magical. You know, love at first sight. And I am faithful!
Phoblographer: There’s a certain vulnerability putting images of your body on the internet. How do you deal with them being out in the public space?
my12seconds: I would probably feel way more vulnerable walking in the public space for real (and I would definitely get in trouble!) or having people watching me behind the scenes.
The vulnerability starts when I put myself in front of the camera and lasts 12 seconds. Within those 12 seconds, I belong to the camera, whether I am ready or not. And the camera sees me, whether it takes the shot or not. That’s my window of vulnerability.
Then, I take control. I select a shot, I edit the image, I decide whether I will share it or not. The level of vulnerability decreases frankly.
Phoblographer: The project is all in Black and White. Why did you choose this aesthetic?
my12seconds: You haven’t seen it all!
Phoblographer: Talk us through creating an image. How do you decide what it will look like, and how long do you spend making one self-portrait?
my12seconds: I create an image without knowing how it will look. I just follow the steps of my feelings, and I don’t plan anything. I could be eating, working, doing anything and at a very instant, something just stops me. Like, “Hey, time for a self-portrait”. It can be the light, a spot that catches my attention, an object, or a book. It could be a conjunction of circumstances or just one thing. Do I sound impulsive?
Phoblographer: Do you do much editing? What’s that process like?
my12seconds: I don’t spend too much time editing. And if it starts to take too long for one picture, I give it up. I remember someone telling me that if you spend too much time or do too many touch-ups here and there, then it’s a bad sign. Personally, I don’t want to distort the picture. I always aim for a minimum amount of editing. That’s a rule.
Phoblographer: From a creative perspective, how do you feel about this project? (are you happy with how it’s going?)
my12seconds: I am pretty enthusiastic about the next fifty years, more or less. Hopefully, my M8 won’t die before I do!
You can see more images from the my12second project by visiting the official Instagram page.