Although you might think that a photographer would love taking a self portrait, it's actually one of the most difficult pictures to take. Because we don't have the advantage of looking through the lens and carefully composing the shot as we do when we shoot other people, self-portraits can be a real pain to get right. That being said, there are a few little tips you can work into your next self-portrait shoot that will make the process much, much easier.
These days just about every SLR camera now has a delay timer which can come in very handy when taking a self portrait. If you use a delay timer (which gives you about 5-10 seconds depending upon the camera), you can press the shutter and then jump into the area before the camera takes the picture. Although this isn't ideal, it will work if you have no other options.
Remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter release will let you activate your shutter release without having to actually press down the button. They come in many varieties (including wireless) and work with most newer cameras and are the best option for taking serious photographs of yourself. They come in price ranges starting at about $30 and can go up to around $50 for wireless releases, or you can try building one yourself if you're tech savy.
Find a Friend
Unless you're at a level where you can measure the distance from your lens to a target and set your focus accordingly, you're going to need a stand-in to make sure your camera focuses in the right spot. A patient friend or family member will usually do the trick, or you can use any object that can sit at the correct height. One of the hardest things to do when taking self portraits is being able to focus properly.
Don't Flatter Yourself
Be honest, the job of a photographer is to show an accurate representation, so be careful of trying to only show the images that put you in the very best possible light. This doesn't mean you can't take great pictures of yourself, it just means you need to take into account the technical aspects as well as if you look good. Your goal is to have the picture tell a story, so how you look is really of secondary importance.
Light it Up
It can be quite difficult to get perfect lighting on a self-portrait. If you have someone stand in for you, you still may need to make minor adjustments to account for different skin tone or height. The best thing you can do is set your camera to full manual mode; this will allow you to purposefully modify every photograph you take without being at the mercy of what the camera's internal sensors decide is right.
When it comes to using lights, you can use natural light, desk lights, floor lamps and even your camera's flash to create the lighting that you want. Don't be afraid to spend a couple of hours on your shoot; messing with the little details can be one of the most fun parts of self-portraiture.
Use Your Creativity
Just as in regular portraiture, creativity is key in creating visually striking self-portraits. Think of ways that you can present yourself that are outside the norm of "person in a picture," and try to have as much fun as possible in the process. Consider using props like costumers, dynamic lighting or interesting backgrounds so your self portrait will really stand out.
All in all, self-portraiture can be a fun break from the demands of working with subjects. Since you can set your own schedule and don't have any time deadlines, you can shoot for as long as you want. Since you don't have anyone else to deal with you can take your time and really get creative with your self portrait shoot.
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Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames. Shop online and see our small picture frames in a wide variety of tones, styles and sizes. Visit our website and see our
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