Galya Budagova
A Journey Inward
Self-Portrait Photography
Galya Budagova

Galya Budagova, a young photographer from Russia, has been immersing herself in the art of self-portraiture for several years now. Self-portraiture in photography, specifically, has a rich history rooted in the exploration of one’s inner world.

In the realm of photography, self-portraiture has a history that traces back to the early days of the medium. Pioneering photographers like Robert Cornelius and Hippolyte Bayard captured their own likenesses in the 19th century, establishing a tradition that continues to this day. These early self-portraits were not merely technical experiments but a means of self-expression and self-exploration.

For Galya, her journey into self-portraiture was catalyzed during a period of strong depression, a time when she experienced depersonalization – an emotional state where one feels detached from their own identity, as if their existence is alien or unreal. In her quest to understand and confront these feelings, she turned to photography. In her own words she explained:

“At that time, I felt my absence so acutely and strongly. As a person, as a part, as a whole. As a body. I was very scared; reality seemed alien. That’s when I started taking self-portraits. I needed to see myself, in its simplest form: sitting on a chair, at the table, lying, standing, crying, smiling. It started with being furniture, because the furniture exists. It stands firmly. Its significance is not in question; it is needed, even if for a little reason.”

Galya’s self-portrait photography reflects a profound exploration of self-identity and a response to feelings of detachment. Her choice of using a simple setting, often her own apartment, draws inspiration from the renowned series “In My Room” by Saul Leiter. She interprets this series through her lens, focusing it on herself and her inner world. Through this choice, she zeroes in on loneliness as the central struggle in the battle against depression.

The majority of Galya’s self-portrait series are captured on film, rendering them in black and white with deliberate underexposure. These techniques are employed purposefully to emphasize drama and set a specific mood, transforming the photograph from a neutral representation of the physical world into a powerful medium of emotional expression. The use of black and white photography brings attention to composition, which evokes a sense of deep introspection.

Galya Budagova’s journey into self-portrait photography is a testament to the therapeutic and transformative power of the medium. Through her lens, she dives deep into her own psyche, confronting depression, depersonalization, and the intricacies of the human experience. Her choice of minimalistic settings and the medium of film photography infuse her self-portraits with a unique emotional intensity, making her work a striking, poignant exploration of inner struggles and self-rediscovery within the context of photographic history.

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