‘Big Me, Little Me’ self-portraits
Imagine waking up one morning to find your body inexplicably grown to giant-sized proportions or shrunken down to the size of a bug. Sounds like a scene out of a movie, right? It’s actually just one of the many creative — and often hilarious — series we spotted in photographer Paul Armstrong’s photostream.
“I like to photograph things that are more child-like, sort of absurd,” Paul tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “Mostly because I find it personally entertaining. I want people to get lost in the photos, find stories and get a little bit more out of it than maybe just a typical photo would.”
Paul’s interest in photography began in 2005 when he became involved in a beard growing contest called Whiskerino. Part of the contest was for each participant to post a daily bearded photo as evidence. Throughout this process, contestants voted on the best and most creative photos of the day.
“Taking a daily ‘selfie’ can quickly get very dull,” Paul says. “So, eventually I started to experiment in order to conquer that boredom. I began to get creative and that sort of started this itch for photography in me.”
Paul began to post his bearded photos on Flickr. After some time, he was shocked to learn they garnered an incredible amount of attention.
“I couldn’t understand why anyone would like them,” Paul admits. “I thought it was crazy. The pictures were ridiculous, but I discovered a whole new medium where I could explore ways to tell silly, ridiculous and sometimes meaningful stories.”
Paul broke away from his beard growing series and began to experiment more. During the contest, he wasn’t allowed to use Photoshop; something he always wanted to do. Now he had his chance.
“It would be me just sort of breaking into new things, new concepts and thoughts,” Paul describes. “It was just really for my own sake. I have this idea, and I have to get it out. I’d ask myself, ‘What can I do, if I can’t do this? What stories can I tell? What things can I try and convey?’ It was fun.”
One of the first pictures that exploded on Flickr was one he took on his son’s birthday called, With Much Power, Comes Much Responsibility.
“It was his [son’s] birthday, he was getting bigger, and he was excited about getting bigger, so we thought it would be the perfect concept,” Paul explains. “The picture is of him punching and I’m flying through the air because he’s so strong. And we just set that up, and we got a lot of hits and a lot of attention. It was cool.”
After some time, Paul accumulated about 200,000 views on his Flickr page. Feeling humbled, he wanted to show his appreciation. This is how his hit series, “Big Me/Little Me” came about.
“The only way I could think to express how I felt humbled was to be small,” Paul says. “So I made myself be small on my desk, you know, going like ‘thank you’ for liking my photos. And that just kept going. It was hilarious that I looked so small! Soon I thought, ‘What else can I do small?’ And that’s how it all began.”
Paul set up shots around his house, putting together ordinary, everyday situations with the intention of looking tiny.
Shortly after posting the “Little Me” series, Paul flipped the idea and began to shoot himself as if he were a giant.
“I found the juxtaposition hilarious”, Paul says. “I’d be a giant trying to get into my car or at the dinner table dwarfing over the kids. I really liked picking typical, everyday scenarios everyone could relate to.”
Apart from anything else, Paul wants his photography to be more than a temporary snapshot.
“One thing I don’t want to do with photography is waste your time,” Paul admits. “I doubt anyone really cares about what shoes I have, the burger I just ate, or my cat. I want to illicit a response from my viewers — whether it’s a kind of laugh, if they think it’s funny, clever or cute. That’s when I feel like I’ve succeeded as a photographer.”
Paul still feels extremely humbled and surprised by the outpouring of positive feedback.
“I couldn’t have imagined anything like this both at the time and where it is now,” Paul says. “It’s a little ridiculous, but it’s awesome, I love it.”
Visit Paul’s photostream to see more of his photography.
Previous episode: Famous landmarks replaced by tacky souvenirs? You’ve got check out hilarious photos by Michael Hughes.