What Does it Mean To Photograph Someone from Behind?
{An excerpt from a piece on back-portraits by Jon Feinstein. For the full article, on The Humble arts Foundation's blog, click}.
The act of photographing someone from behind is often likened to voyeurism or timidity. Think Lee Friedlander's classic image of his shadow stuck to a fur-clad woman's back. Or the countless, anonymous, about-faced vernacular snapshots that shroud women in a creepy silhouette of men pursuing them with cameras. As a young teenager, one of my first photo teachers told me to avoid making this kind of portrait at all costs - their recommendation (or commandment!) was meant as an encouragement – to get to know people, explore something deeper, make a connection or challenge me to engage on a deeper level. But what can this sometimes frowned upon approach disclose in gesture or body language? Can it tell us more than direct eye contact might pretend? Pace McGill curated a rather compelling exhibition of these kinds of portraits throughout photographic history last summer in NYC.  Building on some of these historical notions, we contacted some of our favorite contemporary emerging and mid-career photographers to hear their about their own back-portraits, and their thoughts on this reversal of reveal. 
{And the bit about us}.
'What's Your Backstory?' is a collaboration between photographer Andrew McGibbon and performer Becka McFadden. The project is a spin-off of Beautiful Confusion Collective's BackStories, a physical theatre/dance piece conceived by McFadden and Scheherazaad Cooper, which is performed with the back facing the audience. We're interested in the notion of backstory as personal history, but also as the story of the physical back and the way it stores and expresses information about our present and past. The 'What's Your Backstory?' project takes BackStories beyond our own backs, exploring the stories of others. 

Becka McFadden and Andrew McGibbon
Becka M: My Backstory is... A transatlantic journey narrated by my shoulder blades. 
Steve G: My backstory is...a misspent youth and an uncertain future.
Elisa N: My backstory is...still in progress.
Vanessa H: My backstory is...something I've never considered. Does my back have a story?
Alexis P: My backstory is...always trying.
Chris R: My backstory is...no longer my own.
Maude L: My backstory is...scoliosis in recovery.
Andrew M: My backstory is...a tale of trial, treachery and triumph.
Caroline G: My backstory is...a link to my family
Becka M: #02
Paul W: My backstory is...unimproved, despite physio.
Tom C: My backstory is...soft and hairy.
David M: My backstory is...protection for the rest of me.
Asa T: My backstory is...painful.
Paul W: #02
David L: My backstory is...years of depression and anxiety behind me. 
Alexis P: #02


A series of portraits of human backs. Low-Key lighting with lots of yellows and browns.


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