5 Tips for Better Self Portraits

 

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Self portraits can be a little intimidating, especially if you need to get a new photo for a certain occasion or deadline. Over the years, I've taken hundreds of self portraits (yikes!) for blog posts, craft projects and to entertain myself, of course! When you don't have a camera savvy friend available it can be fun to take your own portraits. Here are five easy tips for getting the best photos you can...

 

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The first thing most people try when taking self portraits is a photo at arms length. This is when you hold the camera out as far as you can and try to snap a photo of yourself without looking into the viewfinder. These photos sometimes have an awkward looking arm (the one holding the camera out) and or unflattering on-camera flash because they are taken so close to the face. When taking arms length photos I usually use my wide angle lens (see my complete camera/lens list here). Since a wide angle tends to distort the outer edges of the frame I usually crop the photo quite a bit. 

 

Remember, one of the best things about taking self portraits is that you can look at what you have and take more if you want to. Check the angle and lighting and find the most flattering position. I like to sit facing a window when I take photos (with the flash turned off). window light can be really nice on the skin.

 

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Reflective self portraits are really fun to take. Most of the photos I chose for this post were taken in a mirror. Here are my tricks… Look into the mirror at your camera lens and you'll appear to be looking at the camera in your photo (never look at yourself in the mirrow when taking a photo). Turn the flash off (I almost never use my flash). Try a lot of different angles. You can hold the camera really low or high so that it isn't seen in your photo. I always take a deep breath before firing the camera so that I can hold it as still as possible. Reflective photos can be lots of fun! Be sure to try different rooms in your home to find the best lighting. 

 

 

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Contrary to what some people say, a downward angle isn't the only flattering way to photograph yourself. I actually don't really like being photographed from above. As I experimented with my self portraits I learned that I like to be photographed straight ahead or slightly from below. I am comfortable with my profile so I like photos where my face is slightly angled better than facing forward. Try some different angles and figure out what you feel most comfortable with. There's no right or wrong angle since every face is so different. Find what works best for you! 

 

 

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A couple years ago I tried to do the 365 self portrait challenge where you take one every day for a year. It was super fun at first and I learned a lot. But after the first month I started to get really bored with doing the same thing every day. It's easy to fall into patterns and stick within your personal comfort zone. Try challenging youself to experiment with something brand new. It can be lighting, styling, posing or location, just to name a few. Try something you've never tried before! 

 

 

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Self portraits can be so much more than a flattering or pretty photo. They can tell a little story! You can capture memories by creating a series of self portraits about your everyday life, your personality or your quirks. Think about the things that make your life unique that never get captured in photos. It's easy to overlook everyday things, but try incorporating them into your next self portrait! 

 

 

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Have fun playing around! I hope this post has been helpful and encouraging. XO. Elsie 

Dslr basicsWant to learn more about photography? Check out our latest e-course!

 

  • Amazing, wonderful tips! You’re right about falling into patterns, I tend to keep taking the poses that I’ve learned flatter me. I should try different things instead of the same poses and angles over and over again.

    Thanks Elsie!

    Aoife x

    http://aoife-blake.com

  • Gorgeous photos! Self portraits can be even more awkward with cameras our size! Thanks Elsie ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you Elsie,
    I LOVE when you do awesome practical advice posts like this!
    I look forward to trying some of these tips.

  • I’d love to see that 365 self portrait challenge you did! is it somewhere online? ๐Ÿ™‚

    + thanks for the tips.

  • Thanks for sharing all your tips. I always feel so awkward having my picture taken. Maybe self portraits would be a good place for me to start getting more comfortable with the idea.

  • Really good tips! I hope my self-portraiting will improve now:)) as I’m always a bit worried about it.
    Your photos look great! Well, you are really pretty girl, so it isn’t too difficult but your camera must be amazing as well.

  • Dear Elsie, i am a new reader but already amazed by all the creativity and great photos jammed in this blog ๐Ÿ™‚ i look forward to read more. greetings from spain.

  • Elsie! Thank you SO much!! You have no idea how much I love this post. Your photos are gorgeous and now I feel SUPER inspired to take my own self portraits! Thank you, thank you, thank you. <3

  • This might be a bit controversial, but 99% of the time I feel like your blog is just a vanity parade, full of picture after picture of yourself. Does EVERY post really need a picture of you in it? Everyone knows you’re pretty. This post just seemed like an excuse to post a million more pictures.

  • I should try taking more self-portraits. I always end up taking pictures of my hubby and kids and no one except for my mom, whenever around, doesn’t seem interested in taking mine. This results in missing memories of my self image from family gatherings, excursions etc… A BIG thanks for the great tips and thanks for clearing out that taking your own photo isn’t smth to be bashful of.

  • What a wonderful five tips post. I am inspired to go out and try them right now.

    I have been working on some more self portraits and it is hard not to get frustrated.

    This post has given me a lot of good ideas.

    Thanks a bunch

    anna

  • Brilliant tips! I can really use these, because until now I can’t manage to take a good shot of myself, self portrait that is. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks, Elsie! I’ve been struggling with my little point-and-shoot to take some self portraits lately, particularyly when I’m trying to get a whole outfit in! Practise, practise…and a lot of cropping!

    PS: weird comment from someone above about how all your blog pots have your own picture in them! Er, it’s your blog, who else are you going to post pictures of?!! I’m sure you’re experienced enough to rise above that sort of negativity, but I just wanted to say, for the record, that I like the fact you include pictures of yourself, as I feel that it helps me get to know you a little better. I like to have a face to go with the name. So there.

  • Such a helpful post, I could have done with this a few weeks ago when I needed to send a photo of myself off to another blog. I hate having my photo taken, but am fairly useless when it comes to taking self portraits…. but maybe this will now all change!

    Thank you Elsie!

    Love from London,

    Birdie
    x

  • Great post…some wonderful tips. I’ve tried the mirror self-portraits a few times but never really knew where to look. Thanks for enlightening me ๐Ÿ™‚ Love your blog! I’m getting married next year and your wedding posts have been such an amazing source of inspiration.

    http://www.theheadlessmannequin.blogspot.com

  • This post came at the perfect time for me! I just bought a new DSLR (my first one) and had no idea how I was going to manage taking a self-portrait with it. I only have a larger lens 18-135 right now so I think it’s going to be a bit tricky getting used to holding the camera away from my body, but I’ll definitely use your tips and give it a whirl! Thank you so much – your photos are inspiring and beautiful.

  • Thank you. These are wonderful tips. I can’t wait to try it out the next time I feel camera happy. I’ve always preferred taking pics of myself so this is definitely helpful!

  • great tips, I think these are very important specially for bloggers that share tons of pictures in their content, Also a good camera takes you to long places! Wide angle lens I love <3

  • Great tips!
    I always use a tripod and remote when I take self portraits. The extended arm thing is hard when you have a DSLR!

    โ™ฅ Gina Michele
    CrochetClouds.com

  • Thanks Elsie! I’m redesigning my blog and I need some new self-portraits. I’m off to find a mirror! How do you always know when I need help and inspiration? : )

  • I think that comment above (from Alcie) is a little ridiculous. Why on earth would you read a personal blog without pictures of the person on it? I infinitely prefer blogs with glimpses of people’s lives to endless ‘inspiration’ posts. I think you strike a really sensible balance of Elsie, ‘inspiration,’ and other things like DIYs.

  • Really great, helpful tips, Elsie! Self-portraits always intimidate me because they always come out really awkward or really unflattering. You’ve inspired me to start playing around with it though! =)

  • Yay! Thanks Elsie! I am just about to start my ‘proper/real’ blog, and these tips are amazingly handy!! You’ve inspired my confidence ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m off to harass my camera now!
    Thank you so much!!!
    Luvluv,
    Sway)

  • Awesome tips! I am very inspired after reading this. I’ve been trying to find great photography tips to use for myself and to help others learn how to do self-portraits and have had no luck. On other sites there have been good tips, but it can be like learning a foreign language, but this truly helped a lot. Thank you so much!

  • Great! It’s true, I hate the results of self portraits, because I make the mistakes you tell, but I’ll try these new ideas! Thanks!

  • Gahhh! So good! I suck at taking self portraits….well I don’t particularily enjoy it either haha. But these are awesome tips!

  • Fabulous post with great tips. I struggle with this all the time when I want to share a photo of a new new headband or eye makeup. My photos just look like poo! Taking these tips into account ASAP!

  • Love it! I would never have guessed that those pictures were all taken while you were holding the camera…except, yknow, maybe the one where you’re holding the camera. Beautiful.

  • Amazing! I always have trouble with self portraits because I am too judgmental of myself behind and in front of the camera!

  • Love this post! My self-portraits always turn out awkward and my face ends up looking bigger than the moon! Thanks for the tips!

  • Beautiful blog, beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing your art. What a gift to us.

  • i love love love the photos you accompany your tips with and i love this list of tips. I like doing lists in my blog too and this tip about self portrait is wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks for taking the time to post this. I just bought my first professional camera so I am excited to start using it. I have short little arms so taking pictures of myself is always a challenge ๐Ÿ™‚

  • these are great tips! i have the hardest time taking self-portraits. i usually make my lips look funny or even close my eyes (haha). hopefully, with some practice i can get some better self portraits.

    -erin

  • Great post! The last tip is particularly helpful, I’ve never thought about photographing details like that.

    Thanks!
    Stephi Dee

  • This was a really fantastic little tutorial. I am trying to become more comfortable with self portraits and being in front of the camera, and I really hope to take these tips to heart. Love it.

  • Hey Elsie!

    I just need to tell you how much I love your blog! It’s amazing and you inspire me so much. I’ve now spent a few hours reading through your blog and I will be back to read the latest.

    And I also need to ask you about your design, it’s amazing! How did you create that?

    Have a great life!

  • This was really inspiring, I immediately tried taking a cool picture with my web cam but tip number 6 should be make sure your hair is washed and you don’t look like death warmed up. Can’t wait to try again tomorrow when I look a bit better!

  • I adore this post. I am thinking about trying a 365 project to practice my photography but also to help improve my self image. Thanks for these tips

  • I just started reading your blog and loved this post! I’m definitely going to try your tips. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Excellent excellent post! I always have so much trepidation about taking my own pictures: they always look awkward or teenagerish, but you have the best ones I’ve seen. Off with me camera now! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • PERFECT self portraits and great tips! I was just wondering about the idea a couple of days ago and this helped me a lot! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am looking forward to giving it all a try…! I need some new self-portraits. I’m off to find a mirror! How do you always know when I need help and inspiration..

  • This post inspired me to take a few pictures of my birthday makeup. Very good and useful tips, thanks so much!

  • Thanks for these tips! I do not have a skill of taking great self portraits, so this is very helpful! I will be trying this soon :]

  • Thanks for these! I think my biggest obstacle to overcome is feeling self-absorbed when I take photos of myself. I love your ideas!

  • I only got my first ‘real’ camera last October and have been playing around pretty much every day ever since. I don’t like to read manuals, rather figure out how things work on my own. The disadvantage: it can take quite a while before I figure something out. Advantage: it is so much more fun and a nice surprise when I do figure something out! I only have one lens and I am looking into investing in a new lens for my camera so I can experiment some more. So thanks very much for your camera list! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also for the 5 tips for the self portraits. I am lucky enough to have my boyfriend taking pictures of me, but I can imagine that he won’t be so patient and willing to do this forever…

    http://thesignaturebow.blogspot.com/
    NEW OUTFIT POST: A Touch Of Pink

  • Thank you for sharing, i hope i’ll have enhough courage to try, practice and post something on my blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks for the tips I’ve always found it difficult to take self portraits…I always come out looking funny…lol.

  • this post is so wonderful, really nicely written and gorgeous SPs.
    I have taken quite a few self portraits (I did a 52wks) but I wouldn’t consider myself great. I have taken things away from this post and will return before my next self portrait taking.
    In fact, it’s inspired me to try to take some over the weekend.
    Thanks, Elsie!

  • I would certainly LOVE more tips on photography on taking photo shots of etsy items or self photography.

  • Great tips, you have to change angles and such even more as we age. I need to try something new. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Thanks for these tips! This is something I really struggle with. I often try to model my latest knitting project & have a difficult time finding the right way to do it as a self portrait.

  • Great post great idea, I now some people are quite negative about self portraits but it can be part of photography where you explore techniques you can then try on your models. this is the post where I uploaded some of mine http://vasare.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/self-portraits-2011-june/ I do feel a bit bad taking photos of myself but if its for a project and and you want to experiment why not… hehe. I will bookmark this think a 365 project would be fun, though I probably have done it unconsciously already by taking photos on a photo book nearly everyday..ups

  • I am new to your blog (followed a link from an Unravelling fan). This post is invaluable because I both hate being photographed and taking a photo of myself. Perhaps with your tips, I will find a way to manage both. I appreciate your tips. Blessings, lydia

  • Tips 1 to 3 are very basic, #4 is important to keep in mind, but I really, really liked your tip #5. Just taking pictures of yourself trying to look pretty or to show off your clothes can become boring, but adding more personality or personal background is what makes a picture interesting. I will definitely try more of that.

    Cool blog! This is my first visit here, I will come back for sure…

  • Great tips on the angles. I like to take pics panned to the left or right of the object and then either go black & white with it or partially black and white on the back ground with some color extraction.

  • wow! such great tips! thank you for sharing
    I think I’m going to give the 365 self portrait challenge a go. and apply all the rest.

  • I just found your blog and I really like it. I’m the worst at taking self-portraits so thanks for posting these great tips! Sharing this on my weekly show & tell post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you so much for this. I always struggle trying to take self-portraits but you’ve given me some wonderful ideas <3

  • Great tips thanks so much for sharing! I feel like I’m constantly learning how to use my slr. Self portraits are a tricky thing!

  • What a pointless post. Aimed at people trying to capture a good hipster facebook picture. Lame

  • I love the pictures & the focus and the clarityyy!!! what camera do you use?

  • These tips are awesome! I just found your blog in blogloving and I am LOVING it. I love having my picture taken but, as you said, I don’t always have somebody around to take it, so I am putting this post to use this morning! Thanks so much!

  • Thanks for such a divine and well-thought-out post Elsie! The photos are beautifully done and I can’t wait to use some of your helpful tips.

  • Oh it is so ambitious and scary to think about taking a different self portrait every day. There would be about 360 days out of the year that I was not in the mood to be photographed! Your photos are really stunning, you’re a very photogenic person; it’s tough to follow in your footsteps, but I am excited to start! I love the idea of telling a story with photos.

  • Thank you so much Elsie !!
    your tips are so helpful and I just LOVE you ideas
    you have one of the best blog I have ever seen
    thank you so much you should be proud
    of yourself !!

    Virginie Savage

  • Hi! I just found your blog and I love it! You are so inspiring and making me want to run out and take tons of pics of myself! haha never thought I’d say that ๐Ÿ™‚ But thanks for all the awesomeness on your blog,

    Jen

  • you have so many beautiful photos.. i love them all.. ๐Ÿ™‚ i can definitely use your tips.. thanks!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’m new to your blog and absolutely love it! I’m a photographer myself and a crafty gal as well, so all your tips and tutorials are fabulous. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep up the great work!

  • I’d love to try taking a photo every single day of the year! Great idea, Elsie!

  • This is good stuff. You’re right, I can’t get away from that awkward arm. I notice that my best self-portraits are when I’m in the best mood on the inside. Def matters.

  • Great tips! Myself, I used a tripod and remote to take my header pic then went messed around in lightroom (picnik is also fun)

    alisha
    amswphotography.wordpress.com

  • I’ve been getting into photography, I am so going to try that challenge, thanks so much!

    xo sarah

  • I love taking pictures but I am really bad for self-portraits. Thank you for the tips, they are pretty helpful! I ll give it a shot ๐Ÿ™‚

    By the way, you have such a nice blog, love it!

  • These are some awesome ideas! I’ve been so intimidated by the idea of taking self-portraits, but you really break it down nicely. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Dear Elsie,

    Great blog post, we featured it this month in our photography webmagazine (see http://didyousayeager.com/magazine/en/201203/article/education/tips-better-self-portraits).

    The reason is that we started an international quest for the longest conceptual photo series ever, consisting of self-portraits with a red line. And in our magazine we referred to your tips for some help ๐Ÿ™‚

    May we also challenge you and your blogpost-readers to make a redline-selfportrait and join in? The rules are simple, please refer to our website below for all instructions and lots of cool self-portraits already for inspiration!!

    All the best,

    Jessica van der Burg and Petra Oldengarm
    the Netherlands
    http://www.redlineportraits.com/

  • i feel really inspired by your work.
    its all very wonderful & lovely.
    thanks for all the pretty stuff that i saw & appreciated today…
    ๐Ÿ™‚

  • http://www.guccibagsjapan.com/ ๏ผ’๏ผ•ๆ—ฅๅˆๅ‰๏ผ‘๏ผๆ™‚ๅŠใ”ใ‚ใ€ๅŒ—ๆตท้“็™ฝ่€็”บใฎ็™ฝ่€ๆธฏใ‹ใ‚‰ๅ—ๆฑ็ด„๏ผ‘๏ผใ‚ญใƒญใฎๆฒ–ๅˆใงใ€็™ปๅˆฅๅธ‚ใฎ็™ปๅˆฅใƒžใƒชใƒณใ‚ฏใƒฉใƒ–ๆ‰€ๅฑžใฎ้Šๆผ่ˆนใ€Œ๏ผญ๏ผฉ๏ผจ๏ผฏ๏ผ—๏ผˆใƒŸใƒ›ใ‚ปใƒ–ใƒณ๏ผ‰ใ€๏ผˆๅ…จ้•ท๏ผ—๏ผŽ๏ผ“ใƒกใƒผใƒˆใƒซใ€ๅฎšๅ“ก๏ผ‘๏ผ”ไบบ๏ผ‰ใŒ่ปข่ฆ†ใ€‚ไน—ใฃใฆใ„ใŸ่ˆน้•ทใฎๆฒข็”ฐ่กŒ้›„ใ•ใ‚“๏ผˆ๏ผ–๏ผ“๏ผ‰๏ผ็™ปๅˆฅๅธ‚ๅƒๆญณ็”บ๏ผใจ้‡ฃใ‚Šๅฎข๏ผ”ไบบใŒๆตทใซๆŠ•ใ’ๅ‡บใ•ใ‚Œใฆใ„ใ‚‹ใฎใ‚’ใ€่ฟ‘ใใซใ„ใŸๆผ่ˆนใŒ่ฆ‹ใคใ‘ใฆ๏ผ”ไบบใ‚’ๆ•‘ๅŠฉใ—ใŸใŒใ€๏ผ’ไบบใฏๆญปไบกใ€‚๏ผ‘ไบบใŒ่กŒๆ–นไธๆ˜ŽใซใชใฃใŸใ€‚

  • very useful tips. taking ones own pix can be daunting. especially if photography is not your area of expertise, so thanks for keeping it simple and making it fun!

  • Thank you for this post! I recently decided to use my tumblr blog (http://tiranaki.tumblr.com) for something other than just re-blogging what other people posted so I was looking for some tips on self-portraits and having a frustrating time until I came across yours. I already had some experience taking self-portraits but I moved some months ago and just wasn’t able to get shots like I used to. After reading your post though, I decided to think outside of the box and put my tripod aside and USE some boxes as tripods and mirror-stands instead. The results look promising! Thanks again!

  • Brilliant! I especially love your #3 shot. My self portraits neeed improving…thank you for the tips.

  • Inspired to just take more pics in general. I’d like to experiment with taking shots of the everyday ordinary stuff. Thanks Elsie!

  • Great tips ๐Ÿ˜€

    I usally use a tripod and a wireless timer when i take my self-portraits – its a little hard but superfun ๐Ÿ˜›

  • This is a wonderful tip! I’ve never been very good at self portraits and this helped a lot:) Thanks.โ™ฅ

  • Being as pretty as you helps when taking self-portraits! I am inspired to take the 365 challenge!

  • #6: use instagram or another free filter to give a 60s look for everyone to see how cool you are and make it the default all over your blog. Every photo will look awesome with a free instagram 60s filter. Believe her.

  • I always find stuff on your blog that I never find anywhere else. Useful stuff. Fun stuff. Interesting I-wanna-try-that stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks.

  • WOW I love these tips.. I have been taking self portraits for years. Frankly because Im not too confident and having others take my pictures REALLY makes me a wreck:)) I try to post daily weekly photos on my blog mostly for myself:)) I just adore your work.. Thanks..K
    Blog URL http://intentionallyinspired.blogspot.com/

  • Thank you for this article. Iยดm from Czech Republic and Iยดm learning (or I have lernt?…) english now on the holiday. I will try leave hear comments. But my english is awful, so… Iยดm sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Tara – Jazmine, I have always known you were a beuatiful girl inside and out but these pictures absolutely prove my point ..Gorgeous! Awesome job Celeste!

  • Wow you really carupted genuine expressions and love in these! The ones with mom are amazing. I would love to have images like that of myself with my girls!!

  • Angie Walker – Shaun, We love the photos so much. We had a great time and I apitpceare your patience with Trinity. I know she can be a handful sometimes and can be hard to photograph, trust me, I know, I’ve been taking pictures of her for 8 years now :-), but by allowing her to be herself you were able to get some amazing photos! You are a truly gifted photographer and we will treasure our photos and the experience forever. We will most certainly be calling you when we plan to have more taken. Thanks again!

  • Valerie Tan – Hello, I write to enquire about the price for a famliy portrait? May I know how much it is for:1) indoor shoot2) outdoor shoot3) with makeover (if applicable)4) without makeover?May I also know whether the price includes prints, and/or digital copies? If not, how much is that?Thank you,Valerie