The very least one can say is that the self representation of the artist photographer, the self-portrait, started off on the wrong foot. In 1840, Hippolyte Bayard, disappointed that his photographic invention had received little acclaim by the official authorities, in comparison to Daguerre's, staged a photograph that would go down in History, in which he played nothing less than a drowned man.
However, this first image already contained the interesting elements that this genre presented: the representation of oneself by oneself as a way of conveying an idea or a feeling through the body, with distinctive intensity.
The ambiguity of the relationship between pictorial photography and the Fine Arts is a known fact. It was a question of credibility and recognition. Clearly proven by the great Edward Steichen who, in the art of self portraiture saw himself....as a painter!
This representation of the artist as a model, and vice versa, embraced the forms of its time according to individual style: visual metaphor (Moholy-Nagy), as well as humour, comical (Herbert Bayer), or black (Erwin Blumenfeld), and even a touch of surrealism (Ueda).
Nevertheless, by eliminating the otherness between the artist and the subject, self-portraiture often introduces an element of gravity, of risk-taking proportionate to the importance of the self-image in our modern society. Self-portrait questions identity.
Two accessories seem to be favoured by photographers who tried self portraiture/self portraits: mirrors and shadows. A radically opposite arrangement in the mathematical sense: the dual image of one person (Claude Cahun) compensating the material absence of the other (André Kertész, Bruno Réquillart).
Making one's body and face a field of experience can thus nurture the practices of those artists who claim another visibility for themselves: another social identity, always staged, using clichés (Cyndi Sherman, Samuel Fosso), another identity in terms of gender, changeable and reversible by photography (Warhol, Cahun), another physical identity voluntarily modified by surgery (Orlan) or simply by the passage of time (Opalka).
Clearly, in terms of the photographic self portrait, I is also another.