When have you looked at a professional portrait of someone you’ve never seen and knew, at once, if the model was the photographer or not? If I come across an unfamiliar photographer, I can rarely tell whether the model is the creator themselves or not. This is wonderful because it combines both genres in a way that welcomes everyone – if you enjoy taking photos of yourself, you can still be considered a professional portrait photographer.
Self-portraiture is worth experimenting with for several reasons:
- It can be a very personal experience – even if you don’t post your photos, you’ll still benefit from them.
- It’s good for understanding your clients better. Knowing what it feels like to be in front of the camera will strengthen your empathy and allow you to give better modelling directions in the future.
- It’s particularly great for experimenting with themes, especially if said themes are still unclear in your mind.
- Generally, it provides photographers with comfort, creativity, and precious quiet time.
If you’re drawn to self-portraiture, there are a few important things you should keep in mind. The following tips will help you take striking photos of yourself and others. Soon enough, you’ll be a master of both self-portraiture and portrait-taking in general.
A Few Tools That Will Greatly Help You
- A remote will make the shooting process much easier, as it will help you take photos without using a timer.
- A tripod, which is ideal for wider shots and clear photographs.
- A reflector, which will allow you to take well-lit self-portraits on gloomier days.
Regarding lenses, don’t feel limited if you only have one. I’ve been using an affordable 50mm 1.8 lens for years. Wide-angle lenses will let you take environmental self-portraits. Prime lenses, on the other hand, will create images that are a little more cropped and personal.
Get Comfortable with Awkwardness
Awkwardness is usually avoided for understandable reasons. However, when it comes to self-portraiture, embrace it. Even if you start to feel like a fish out of water, persist. Expect awkward feelings and awkward results. This kind of attitude will, funnily enough, strengthen you self-confidence and give you the necessary motivation to keep trying.
Indoors and Outdoors
When I first started taking self-portraits, I took almost all of them indoors. This gave me a chance to find potential in almost everything, be it a graceful shadow or the way light enters a room in the morning. Even if you live in a very small apartment, know that you will find something great to take photos with. Take the time to notice your surroundings. Find details that could be used in a shoot. Oftentimes, the most insignificant details end up crafting the most stunning photographs.
There are times when I catch myself feeling tense during a shoot. When this happens, I take a deep breath, relax my shoulders, and return to the present moment. It’s easy to get caught up in daily obligations – photography can relieve this pressure by forcing you to appreciate and enjoy what is currently in front of you. If you catch yourself feeling odd, take a few deep breaths and gently guide yourself back to the present moment. In addition to relaxing you, this exercise will make your photographs look more appealing.
Challenging days make happier ones feel intensely sweet and relieving. Similarly, tough photoshoots which require lots of independent work make the collaborative process easier. I often find that taking photos of others is much, much easier than taking self-portraits, as there are generally less complications when it comes to the former.
Self-portraiture will benefit you in multiple ways, even if you don’t end up sharing your results anywhere. Remember to persist, laugh at yourself from time to time, and express yourself as honestly as you can. Your results will impress you in the most unexpected ways and one day, someone will find immense inspiration in your skills.