Don’t you hate being in front of the camera? I do. I hate it. That’s what this month’s assignment is: Self Portrait. Yay! Now before you decide you aren’t going to do this because you don’t like being in front of the camera you can shut your damn mouth right now. I stripped down to my underwear and got about as vulnerable as I can get in public. So guess what — you can do this too.

“But Zack…”

Shut. Your. Damn. Mouth.


The assignment is Self Portrait. Deal with it. Do it. Feel how uncomfortable it is in front of the camera. You need to know how that feels so you can be a better photographer when you are photographing someone who is uncomfortable in front of the camera.

This is for new work and new work only. Do not be an idiot and post old work into the pool. Do not post random ass street photos. It’s amazing how many people just pay no damn attention to the assignment. Pay attention. Stop being a moron. I’m going to continue being an asshole about this.

You can post to the Flickr pool here. Or you can tag your photos on 500px and IG with #DEDPXL09.

And here is the critique for DEDPXL08.

Any questions or concerns? Hit me up in the comments below! Happy shooting!


Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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  1. Tor Ivan Boine (@TIBoine)

    But, new work. how new is new? I’ve shot some self portraits this year. would they qualify?

    • Michal Obuchowski

      I think the point of an assignment is that New work = work done specifically for this assignment…

    • Zack Arias

      NEW WORK! Nothing that you’ve akready shot. NEW NEW NEW.


      • Steve

        New work. March assignment. Sorry to beat a dead horse but I do have a question. The video and assignment was present on March 5th. Does that mean anything shot March 1st – March 4th is not eligible.

        • Zack Arias

          When the assignment is posted that is when you can start creating work for that specific assignment.


    • Gabriele Conti

      new work means it has to be shot during this month

  2. pudelfoehner

    hahahaha perfect header (bathroom) pic. you’re so fucking great! i will smile all the day through. reaally love your work.

  3. Nick Adamson

    Awesome video, I chortled heartily! And great shot, that took some brass ones I may not have!

  4. johan duchateau

    f*ck not being selected, put so many questions in your head.

    • Holden Wesley

      Yea, but it’s better to not be selected than be one of the ones selected for being bad.

  5. Sewing Faille

    I’m so excited about this! I have a sewing blog, so I take lots and lots of tripod selfies of me the wearing clothes I’ve made. And they’re kind of bad. I’m more of a landscape photographer.

    Do I have to make a new dress for this assignment, too? 😉

  6. SImon

    I read this “This is for new work and new work only” has “This is for New York and New York only”.

    I was confused….

    • Jim

      My brain did the same thing for a second.

  7. Richard Wintle

    Hah! Been expecting this as an assignment for a while now.

    Hm… environmental portrait? Crazy dress up costumes? Moody? High-key? Low-key? Underwear-in-the-bathroom? So many options…

    Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with this month. 🙂

  8. Holden Wesley

    Actually been thinking of doing a selfie for awhile…

    What counts as a self portrait for this, just has to be of yourself ya? no particular need for anything particular?

  9. Stephanie Lehr

    Hi Zack and Meg,

    In regards to your critique of my image “Disconnect” (featured on 46:08 of the video), you were questioning the medium used. This is a photogram print with collage. A photogram is a darkroom process where you place objects underneath an enlarger (I did an exposure of 5 seconds) on top of light-sensitive photographic paper; this creates white unexposed space where the objects were placed. Then the paper is developed through traditional darkroom developing. The photogram was especially used in the Surrealist photography movement in France, and Man Ray was especially famous for his interpretation of the photogram medium. I then incorporated elements of collage by having cut-outs from 1940s Woman’s Day magazines (the face and the telephone).

    • Stephanie Lehr

      Oops, I hit “send” before I finished what I had to write. I submitted this on the last day of February- I was racing with the clock because it was only a couple of hours before midnight!

      • Meghan Arias

        Thanks for describing the process for us! I am fascinated by it, truly. After the critique, (which I always feel so rushed in doing), I went back and looked at the images and yours definitely stands out.

    • Holden Wesley

      thanks for reminding me what those were called. making them was our first assignment in photography class and had been thinking about it lately and couldn’t for the life of me remember their name after the years.

  10. Kevin

    I have that same underwear.

  11. Pat Morrissey

    And how long did you spend cleaning up before that shot? Huh? Huh?

  12. Adam Favre

    REALLY enjoy your critiques you do with your wife. I think you both have great balance. I would wonder how often she views your images (i.e. – highly interested in your work is it a “oh my gosh, yet another image Zach, really?!).

    Regardless, a great combination and balance. Doubt I ever venture into submitting to the contests (at least not for a bit) but am learning a bunch through your critique (and book, and videos), and learning to NOT worry about MY sensor size!

    • Richard Wintle

      Adam – don’t be shy, submit to the assignments (not contests). They are a great way to push you to do different things. FWIW I’ve submitted to every one of them (as have many others) and there is always something to learn from participating, even if your own image isn’t critiqued.

  13. adam bucci

    i wonder what the over/under on ‘olan mills’ and ‘cindy sherman’ self portraits is?

  14. Mike Bourgeault

    Thank you for not titling the assignment “selfie”.

  15. v01d

    You’re video just convinced me to try haha
    I’ve been wanting to do a self-portrait for long. You won’t find a single picture of me on my photostream, so this will be a big change haha.
    Also, good opportunity to try to do some strobist stuff, since my flash is there collecting dust.

  16. David

    I just took self portraits like 3 days ago. THREE DAYS! Also, your bathroom is cool. Perfect for a photo.

    • David

      Also, I really would like for that picture to stop showing up. I need to figure that out.

  17. Philipp Winter

    Just curious: How many submissions were there in total?

    • Zack Arias

      I imagine there were about 300 or so total. It would take hours on hours to go through them all. When we include more and do a two hour critique people complain. When we do less people complain. We are trying to find the right balance.


  18. Jimmy W

    Aww, I didn’t get any critique on my photo. 🙁
    Some great pics in there though!

  19. Criz

    Since there clearly are people who saw the critique this seems to be a new problem or a problem with my browser (Google Chrome), but I see the Assignment 09 video in both spots…

    • Criz

      Scratch that, now after reloading I don’t.

  20. Petar

    Hey, what is the limit on the number of submissions, sorry if it was asked before 🙂

    • Zack Arias

      It’s 2 per week for the flickr pool. No limit for other places. Just hashtag the photo so I can search for them.


  21. Jonathan

    The critique was worthwhile just for “concrete sombrero”. 🙂

    I am curious…you include a few photos that are pretty obviously way off theme (happy laughing snapshots, a high key portrait, etc.) Is that meant as a deterrent?

    Totally enthused for this month’s theme. I’ve always wanted to take a stab at being Cindy Sherman. Here’s my chance.

    • Zack Arias

      I like to show images that do not meet the theme so people know why it didn’t meet the theme.


      • Jason

        I loved the critique.

        • Mal

          Same, a great critique as always. My photography has definitely improved since Dedpxl started, simply by doing some of the assignments, and watching all of the critiques.

          What images don’t make the cut, for me, are just as helpful as what does.

          “concrete sombrero”… gold.


  22. Shaun

    Thanks for the A-!

  23. Teun de Blok

    I love that “dodge & burn” bit in the DEDPXL08 Critique video. Especially when Meghan says ‘Thanks for going there with me’ afterwards.

    Now, those are the signs of a healthy relationship. 🙂

  24. Paulo Abrantes

    Hi Zack and Meg,

    Thank you for the B+ you gave to Dementia at 22:26.
    You guys said in video it would take a long time to start picking it up, but if you could spare just a few minutes I would appreciate you giving me a bit more of feedback so I can improve next time.

    I was wondering if it was the concept being strange, or the story not passing through the photo. How do you think the photo could have been made better?

    See you in #dedplx09!

    Thank you so much in advance!
    Take care,


  25. Jason

    This might seem a bit obvious, but does a self portrait need to have you actually present in the image?

    I think I’ve seen this video (I can’t find the video now) where this bloke did a portrait of a well known editorial portraitist, and instead of putting the portraitist in the frame, the photographer put items that were commonly associated with the subject’s well known personal look. E.g. glasses, tie, etc.

    Would something like this, i.e. essence of the person without the person fall into the #DEDPXL09 parameters?

    I’m not sure that it would be easy to pull off for us with no real public profile, but I’m curious.

  26. Jarrett Hucks

    This is by far the most entertaining video you have ever put out, first I laughed my butt off and then it burst wide open with the feels in the bathroom scene. Seriously Caleb, FANTASTIC work.

    Can’t wait to start on this!

  27. Austin

    Hey how do I tag my submission on Ingram. Because when i tagged the photo with the hashtag you provided my picture does not show up in the pool

  28. Chris

    dat dedpxl09 video tho…. L O L

  29. Martin Kull

    Moody Assignment 08 was my first here and I think I heard an A from Zack in the review – thanx! The portrait(@41:11) is of my wife watching a moody(!) Nordic noir crime series on TV.
    Now you got me hooked and I need to get my act together for a self portrait. Love the bathroom portrait.

  30. Ian Smythe

    I’m currently painting a self portrait, I will be pondering ways to incorporate it without being cliche.

  31. JL Williams

    You two obviously have a very doctrinaire interpretation of what moods qualify as “moody.” Oh, well, now I know. Guess my work here is done…

  32. Bertie P

    The pee joke was funny — no offense taken!

  33. Jonathan

    That bathroom is sweet! 🙂

  34. Dustin Allison

    Interesting observation….A large majority of images posted so far in the flickr group and instagram are b/w with pretty strong contrast/light. Do you think the videos you have created recently using this same style have an effect on this? Are people editing and shooting in that style in an attempt to gain favor from the judge? Totally random thoughts on a foggy Wednesday morning….

  35. Susie

    You video in this = priceles….seriously cracking up

  36. Susie


    Can a person or animal be in the self portrait?

  37. Paul Crouse

    Ha ha ha! That is a brilliant picture of you!

    Here in Japan, part of the aesthetic is that beauty comes from imperfection. Humans are imperfect. How amazingly beautiful you are. Truly.

    You are easily one of my favorite people on the Internet. Keep being you.

    Paul Crouse
    Kyoto, Japan

  38. Tim Kyle

    Hey Zach,

    I was excited to get going on this assignment this week. I’m not sure if the photo I just took counts as a self portrait. I took a portrait of me and my two co-workers here at the fire station. I used a tripod and a remote release of course.



  39. Emily

    Will you be doing more classes, and is there a way for me to be automatically informed?

  40. Mats

    When is the last day of DEDPXL09? Would it be possible to make this information easier to find?

  41. Ray

    @Mats, March 30, he says it in the assignment video.

    Oops, last post got sent twice :/

  42. Matthew Black

    Hey Zack. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the pictures you were taking at the Decemberists show last night!

    When my wife went to get a t-shirt, I tried to track you down to buy you a beer as partial repayment for all the amazing things you do for aspiring photographers. No luck, though. I hope someone else gave you a high five and an IPA.

    Anywho, cheers from a Decemberists-and-Zack fan.

  43. Ray

    @Zack, maybe, since I guess you’re busy and didn’t get to the review, you can make a super short assignment, only e.g. 10 days to submit. Also would give you some space and less to review for the assignment 😛

    • gaijin

      I don’t think so. 10 days, 20 days, 1 day doesn’t matter, it doesn’t mean you get less entries.

      • Ray

        @Gaijin 😀 so, he coulda done one April-June 😉
        Funny, no comment etc., hope all’s ok with Zack & Co.

  44. mike

    Hey Zack,

    No biggie but just a tech note (it might be me) but Meg’s mic was way louder than yours (I had to ride the audio levels) and distracted from the critique. But, regardless, I appreciate the critiques. Thanks.