This Photographer Takes Her Portrait Twice Every Day To Zoom In On The Divided Self

We are all befores and afters.

Ask Chicago-based photographer Mel Keiser what inspired her self-portrait series "Becoming Mel," and she'll point you to a wealth of heady neuroscience literature and an overall shifting sense of personal identity. 

But just by glancing at the portraits, the complex ideas she's wrestling with become crystal clear.


Keiser presents her portraits in pairs: one taken immediately after she wakes up, her hair still mussed, her eyes still half-shut, and one taken after she's spent some time in front of the mirror. Her makeup is perfect, her earrings are on point, and she's ready to go out and meet the day. 


Here are Mels, separate but not altogether dissimilar, pairs of different selves spaced out by maybe half an hour.

Keiser told A+ she's hoping to spark a conversation with her photos: 

"What is the difference between who I am in this moment versus who I was in the moment before?  And perhaps more revealing, what is the difference between the Mels of one day and the Mels from a few days ago, or a few months later?"


But it doesn't stop with Mel. The differences between the two women in the pictures mirror the differences between all of us as we put on different faces and different identities. Lipstick, eyeliner, smiles and squints - so much changes in that first half hour, and continues changing throughout the day.

In her email to A+, Keiser suggested that the self that we are upon waking might be more honest or innate than the "social-self" that we present to the world, and takes a little longer to boot up.

She says that although many explorations of identity look to find the differences between seperate people, she hopes that people learning about her work will be inspired to think a little more about themselves.

"I’m much more interested in what makes you different from yourself. That is infinitely more fascinating," she explained.

(H/T: Elite Daily)