There are a lot of reasons why you might want or need to take your own self-portraits. Maybe there's nobody around to help you out, or you aren't satisfied with the photos that people take of you, or you could just be uncomfortable asking people to take photos for you or posing in front of people. Whatever the reason, I've been there. I take forever to get a picture I'm happy with, and most of the time I am way too awkward to get through the whole process in front of another person. But I still need some good photos for the gram, so here's how I get them.
This post is separated into 3 categories. The first section is for people using a phone for their photos, the second is for people using beginner level camera's, and the last section is for people who have more experience with camera's and have access to a camera remote or a camera with wifi. There's also going to be general tips at the end for people who know how to take the photos but need tips to make them come out better.
For Phone Users
- If you don't have a phone stand or tripod then find a spot to prop up your phone. This could be a pile of books or just a stand that holds your phone up long enough for you to position yourself.
- Set your phone camera on self-timer mode. Majority of phones nowadays will have a self-timer function, which allows you 10 seconds between pressing the button and the picture being taken.
- Set up your photo. Figure out how you want to pose and arrange your photo so that when you press the shutter button, you can get into your position easily.
- DO NOT USE YOUR FRONT CAMERA! Use the camera behind your phone because it is usually much better quality.
- Take several test photos because it's a bit harder to get the shot right when you can't see the screen. Be patient and try a few things until you're happy with the photos you have.
For Beginner Camera Users
- If you have a tripod, it will make your life 10x easier, if not, you can use a table or any flat surface, but make sure it's stable.
- Each camera model is different, but if you go into your camera settings you will be able to set your camera to self-timer mode. Most cameras allow you to choose how long you have before the photo, and I would recommend putting as much time as possible (usually a maximum of 10 seconds). If it is possible, set your camera to take multiple photos, as this will allow you to avoid having to keep going back and forth.
- Set up your shot and use an object - I usually try a chair or broomstick - in your place to make sure everything is in focus.
- Take a few test shots to get the right angle and focus. After that feel free to experiment until you get something you're happy with.
For More Experienced Camera Users
- If your camera has wifi access then you can download an app on your phone or laptop - this depends on what camera you have so I suggest doing a Google search of your camera model to understand better - that will allow you to connect to your device and shoot from far away, while checking the shot on your device. If your camera does not have wifi access I would recommend investing in a camera remote, there are a lot on amazon for under $50 and they're useful for a lot of other photography styles too.
- Using either your remote or phone to connect to your camera you can press the shutter button from your position in frame and take a few from different poses, before going over to your camera to check them or make adjustments.
- If you have a camera with autofocus that tracks you or can be controlled from your device then you don't have to worry about focusing before getting in the shot. If not then please refer to the 3rd point in the previous category.
- Set a 2-5 second timer so that after pressing the shutter button on whatever device you have available, you are still able to get into a comfortable position for the photo.
- Using a remote device to shoot gives you more room to experiment with complex poses and set up as you don't need to worry much about timing, so you can take your time to compose your shots a bit more.
Take your time
Since you don't have anybody waiting on you, this is a good time to really think out your shots and really plan them before you even start shooting. Don't feel rushed to get the shot and even if you do feel like you've gotten it, shoot for a bit longer to give yourself a variety of options. Treat it as a full photoshoot, try out different outfits and looks and sets. The more time you take during the shoot, the less likely you are to need to go back later and shoot more. If you have a shot you kind of liked, shoot again a few times at that angle to see if you can do it better. Don't rush yourself.
Get inspiration - BUT DON'T COPY PEOPLE
I love going on Pinterest to make a mood board before I shoot, the same way I would with a client, because it gives me some ideas of how I want my photos to turn out and direction when I feel like I'm running out of ideas during a shoot. This can include anything such as colour palettes, photos and film stills, or whatever it is that gives you ideas. I also shoot with music that inspires the mood I'm going for in the background, it's more immersive. I also have a general Pinterest board that has any photo I come across that I think looks cool, so I always have a jumping off point. I find that when I'm continuously surrounded by amazing art I'm more inspired to make amazing art, funny that?
Mess around with lighting and settings
Try some interesting lights, don't always just use direct lighting, especially if you're getting bored with your photos. Try some fairy lights, or candles or try shooting at sunset or golden hour. Shoot at night or with neon lights, just see what interests you. If you don't have any cool, coloured lights on hand a little hack I saw on Pinterest was to google a colour and then use the google images page as a light source. I tried it with pink and purple and had a really good time. Also try long exposure shooting, it's a bit more complex and time consuming so if you'd like me to write a full post on that then let me know!
Go big with your set/background
This tip is especially helpful for people who aren't super comfortable in front of the camera. Get really creative with the set of the picture. If you feel awkward posing then you'll feel especially awkward posing in front of a blank wall. Create an atmosphere by setting up props that make the photo look more natural and less posed. Put yourself in a place you're comfortable such as your bedroom or living room and interact with the environment. If you focus on having a creatively composed shot then it will be more visually interesting, even if you're a pretty average model.
Know your angles
Learn how to look your best. Look through your favourite photos of yourself and understand what you like about them and how to emulate that in photos you take. Understand which side of your face you like and what poses are flattering on you and taking photos of yourself becomes much easier and faster. Stand in front of a mirror and practice your poses to see what works for you so that you have a few go-to angles every time you start shooting. For example, I don't like my profile so I usually shoot at a slight angle instead of fully turned. I also know that I cannot fake a smile to save my life so I experiment with other facial expressions instead. Knowing this stuff about yourself can help you to avoid being discouraged when you can't seem to get a good angle. For my fellow photographers, this will also help you to direct other people because you'll understand what kind of direction is helpful when posing.
Have fun with it!
Don't overthink this stuff. These are just some tips which have helped me personally, choose what you want to take from them but don't be discouraged if something doesn't work for you. Just experiment until you find a method or system that works for you, and then run with it. Allow yourself to do stuff you wouldn't feel comfortable trying with somebody else watching and waiting on you, and just have a good time. Set a time, turn on some tunes and just go for it!
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Thanks for reading, see ya in a bit!