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