When meeting somebody for the first time, or maybe just viewing a portrait, the brain goes into overdrive for a few seconds to quickly form a first impression. Whether we like it or not, rapid assumptions are made based on age, gender, race, culture, physical appearance, the surrounding environment, and especially other people present—all things that help form who we are, real or perceived. Since 1999, Czech photographer Dita Pepe has explored this idea of identity and environment in two photographic series titled Self-Portraits with Men and Self-Portraits with Women, where the photographer seeks to completely assimilate into the lives of other people.
In the beginning, Pepe first posed with people she knew, but now works with people from all walks of life with vastly different backgrounds and family structures, often incorporating her own daughters into the portraits. Each photograph is shot on location where a family or person lives, or engages in their hobbies or daily life. Pepe goes to great length to appear as if she belongs in each portrait, a chameleonlike quality that some compare to the works of Cindy Sherman; however, unlike Sherman’s studio portraits, Pepe’s images appear more like hasty snapshots, bringing a strange level of believability and authenticity to each portrait.
Pepe most recently collaborated with writer Bara Baronova on a new book of photography titled Love Yourself, and you can see more portraits with both women and men on Feature Shoot and at Lens Culture.