Self portraits are hard. They are a real challenge. Staying relaxed while looking at the lighting, thinking about the pose, while looking at the results while holding the reflector while worrying about how good the backdrop looks.
Too many things!
Today I threw on my favourite pieces of clothing (The suit is my own creation- a multi-layered piece hand-stitched from two suits. It comes with a full-length skirt.) and hit the studio.
So here are my nine tips for better self portraits!
1.Use the Autofocus Feature
Yes, use the most basic feature on the camera. I messed up a stack of shots because I pre-focused, but moved out of position, leading to out of focus shots and wasted time.
2.Don’t Use the Same Angles and Expressions
Shake things up. Laugh, sneer, pull faces. For a start it will loosen you up for the better shots. Sometimes though, they end up being the best shots
What is perfection anyway? Your skin may not look perfect, you don’t have twenty lights or the ‘perfect’ backdrop. Work with what you have got. With these photos, I just used a black fabric backdrop. Keep it simple.
There are always going to be haters on social media. There are also going to be fans. If we all worried about being judged, nobody would do anything. Most of the time, people are just looking at themselves anyway. They are too worried about how they look to worry about you. Forget haters.
Love yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be yourself.
5.Ask for Help
My partner will laugh at this one! I battle and struggle with self portraits, and then she says. “Need a hand?” And I can relax about holding the remote shutter or trying to balance the reflector. I also get feedback like: “Sit up straight, one shoulder is lower than the other, you look like you are constipated. As that the look you are going for?”
Self portraits don’t have to be done alone.
6.Don’t Shoot For Hours
Set aside an hour or two. Set a timer if you have too. The striving for the perfect shot will have you running in circles and in front of the camera for way too long- longer than is comfortable, and it will show on your face.
When you are tired you will look it. Don’t burn yourself out.
7.Use a Tripod
There is no way you can hold a camera, or a phone, for a hundred shots or so. Also, you are going to have a big head, big nose and out of proportion face from having the camera at arm’s length. Selfies never look good. Self-portraits are the way to go.
After a camera and a lens, the tripod should be your first purchase. Get a good one, not one from Kmart or wherever. Get one as an investment in your photography.
8.Use Artificial Light
You can’t control many things in this world, but setting up proper lighting is one thing you can do. Set up like a serious shoot. If you are outside, the sun will move, the sun will go behind clouds, exposure will change. Minimise pain and suffering by shooting indoors.
9.Don’t Pose All the Time
Be free. Don’t stand there looking at the camera all day. Some of my favourite shots were when I moved. I like movement in my shots so these were my favourites.
Laughing or those off-guard moments generally end up being the best shots.
Shoot tethered if you can. If you can plug your camera into your computer running Adobe Lightroom, you can see all the photos with having to get up and look at the photos in the camera. This will make it easy to get instant feedback about your position, your pose and lighting.
I hope these tips will be of help next time you are planning a self portrait session. If you have any tips to add to the list, I would love to hear them!
If this all seems to hard, and you are in Sydney. Contact me for some cool portraits. I shoot models, actors and entrepreneurs.
Best wishes until next time,