Jeff Harris: 4,748 Self-Portraits and Counting

In an effort to record the year of his life leading up to the millennium, Jeff Harris began a project in which he used his trusty Olympic Stylus 35mm film camera (he’s since gone through six) to take a self-portrait each day and then posted the results on his website. The project, which began long before the widespread popularity of blogging, Facebook and Flickr, allowed viewers to follow one photographer along on his adventures. “I didn’t want 365 images of me sitting on the couch each day,” says Harris. “There could have been that tendency, especially during the cold dark winter months to stay inside all the time, but this project inspired me to get out there and seek out interesting things.” This year, Harris embarks on year fourteen of what has turned out to be an epic, inspired and ever-evolving art project that documents a life well lived.

The images range from completely solitary, auto-timed self-portraits to photographs inspired by a collaborative spirit with whomever Harris encounters on a given day. Regardless of the mood, location or activity at the center of any given image in the series, they all show a marvelously open and generous approach to both diaristically recording and sharing everything from intimate moments to athletic adventures with a wider audience. In fact, Harris evokes the full range of physical experiences a body can encounter: from mundane inactivity to joyful dives to his body being open on the operating table.

“I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day,” the photographer says. “I’m always around and always free. It’s kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape.”

Jeff Harris’s work was recently included in  Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography by Susan Bright published by Thames and Hudson.

Visit jeffharris.org to see the project in its entirety. Harris also has an interactive Journal  that allows readers to submit writing about a day from their life. Their stories are juxtaposed with his self portrait from that same day.

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