Why is it Important to Get Your Portrait Taken?

Getting portraits of yourself always begins as a scary, uncomfortable thing. Self conscious thoughts kick in, you start to wonder why you chose this shirt, does my hair look okay, how long until this is over... you know the drill. I'm not immune to those thoughts myself - taking self portraits is no different. But I've grown comfortable in front of the camera over the years, and now looking back on old photos of myself brings back incredible memories that I wouldn't have remembered as vividly without images to look back on.

"Pictures are one of our only defenses against time. They're the only evidence that we existed."

- Levi Bettwieser

I took this in my very first apartment on the northwest side; where the walls were a sickly green & brown, with a bright white baseboard in our dining room. The only spot in the house with enough light to capture anything was in front of this one window by the bathroom, and I lived with a photographer who was obsessed with the same corner. This was the month I stopped dying my hair and started to let it fade back to it's natural brown - it had been so long that I'd forgotten how dark it was originally and I barely recognized myself.

This was the winter both my grandma and my mentor passed away a few weeks apart from each other. The day I found out about my mentor's passing I was spending the afternoon recording a video piece with my soon to be roommate for  the last two years of college, and one of my closest friends. I remember the way that I felt, what we talked about, and the support I found in her during the passing of my mentor.

This is one of the only photographs I have of myself from that year. I didn't want to take pictures of myself because at the time I didn't want to remember what I was feeling, but now I'm glad that I did even if it was difficult. You'll never know what parts of a day you'll remember three years later, or what will be important to you from a time in  your life after you're not in it anymore.


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Katharine Hannah

Chicago, IL

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.