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Me, Myself, And I: Introduction To Self Portrait Photography

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self-portrait-photography-600x362 Me, Myself, And I: Introduction To Self Portrait Photography Activities Guest Bloggers Interviews Photo Sharing & Inspiration

My Intro to Self Portraits

Until about two years ago, the only photographs that you can find me in are ones taken by someone else and they tended to be for the requisite family photos.  When a friend challenged a group of photographers to step out from behind the camera and get in pictures, it changed my photography.  The challenge was to take a photo of yourself – It didn’t matter if the camera was part of the image, like a mirror self portrait, or if you held the camera at arm’s length and snapped.  You had to take a photograph of yourself.

At that point, I became intrigued.  This was a new type of photography for me: self portrait photography.  It was exciting to try something completely outside of my comfort zone and see what I could do with it.  I took the obligatory mirror shot with the camera up to my eyeball, you know, the one that just about every photographer has taken of themselves at least once.

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Intrigued by Self Portrait Photography

Two weeks later, this friend issued the same challenge.  This time, I tried to hold the camera at arms’ length.  Do you know how hard it is to get the focus right when you can’t see through the lens?  It was tough and took several tries to get it just right. Every two weeks, this group of photographers was given the same challenge.  More and more photographers joined.  About this time, Halloween was around the corner and I tried channeling my inner Audrey Hepburn.  I was hooked on this “new” photography.

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365 Project: All Self-Portraits

This past January (2013), I decided to really put myself into self-portraiture and take on a 365 project. For one year, I took a photograph of myself every day.  I did this for several reasons.

  • I could learn how to love myself more by seeing what others, namely my husband, saw in me.
  • I could learn how to pose myself, and by extension, pose anyone in flattering positions and light.
  • I could expand my creativity and try things out on a model that is always available and willing to do whatever the photographer wanted.

About half of my selfies are planned, meaning I get my inspiration by looking through boards on Pinterest or I hear a song or I even read something that hits me and I want to show how it makes me feel.  From there, I picture in my head how I want it to look, and then I deconstruct into the parts that I need – background, lighting, my clothing, props, etc.  I will practice my “look” in the mirror so that I get a feel for how I want my face to look.  From there, I set up my camera and my “space” and then do a couple of practice shots.  I have a remote that I use most of the time, either I am holding it or I have it on the 2-second release and I toss it aside so it isn’t in the photo.

I keep an ongoing list of ideas on my phone and on my iPad so that if I get stuck one day, I can go through the list and get re-inspired.  I highly recommend this system if you try out a 365 or a 52 weeks project.  There will be days that you don’t feel inspired at all and you can’t think of anything, while other days, the ideas are pouring out.  This way, you can always get a bit of inspiration.

Not only do I have an idea list, but I also have several “mini” projects incorporated into my 365, such as Portraits Of A Modern Housewife, Ghost In The Machine (inspired by someone else’s 365 project), Demon Inside, Thirteen Nights Of Halloween and my latest, the Mini-Me’s.  Those mini projects also help keep me going.

This is a behind the scenes look at one of my Ghost In The Machine photos, with the finished shot below.

DSC_5726BLOG Me, Myself, And I: Introduction To Self Portrait Photography Activities Guest Bloggers Interviews Photo Sharing & Inspiration
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Plan, Shoot, Repeat, Feedback: The art of the selfie

There are times where you will get the focus, the lighting, the look – just everything – absolutely perfect in the first 3 shots.  The flip side is that there have been times where I have taken 100 shots and have only come up with 3 to choose from, and I may not even adore all three of them.

The one thing I have learned, is that if you post publicly on social media, be prepared for unsolicited attention, whether it is ‘creepers’ or criticism or just jerks in general.  For me, I tend to ignore them and brush them off.  They aren’t worth my time and in the end, I am doing this project for myself alone.  I am doing this as a visual diary of how my year has gone.  My self portraits are a way for me to express myself and if you think of your self portraits like that, then they become much easier to do.

Because this is my visual diary of the year, I put a small piece of my heart/soul into every single shot.  I have found that when I do that, I stay true to whatever message I want to send and the photographs have a much bigger impact.  The downside of putting yourself into images, whether it is self portraits, landscapes, nature, even portrait work, is that you become tied into your work.  It can be emotionally exhausting and you can get burned out.  I try to cope with this by doing “silly” every now again.  Not every image can be soul-searching or heart-rending.

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I was once asked if my comfort levels shift depending on the photo.  They do.  It isn’t so much how much skin I am showing, it is more about what emotions and what side of me I am willing to show.  Am I willing to show the giddy, goofball side?  How about the emotionally-wrecked side?  Do I stay private about the losses I have had in the last year or do I show them through the photographs and gain some closure?  For me, this 365 project started out as a way to show someone that I really could finish it and I wouldn’t get bored and quit.  It has ended up being a way to remember my year and really push open my creativity.

Below is an image from the Mini-Me series:

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Tamara Pruessner is a nature photographer in Marana, Arizona who specializes in storm, landscape and macro photography. She started out on a manual Minolta film camera 13 years ago, while learning how to develop film. Eventually, she wants to chase storms throughout the Midwest. You can find her self-portrait photography at her website or on Facebook.

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  1. Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions on February 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I will try again another time with this. Unfortunately I only got a few responses on Facebook and none here.

  2. Heather on March 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    This is an incredible App for any photographer – simply have your contract and model releases on you at all times – in you iphone or itouch – your client signs right on the screen, and it’s emailed to them as well – picked it up right away – fully editable contracts as well – for only $2.99!!DescriptionMichael The Maven Presents: “Photographer’s Contract Maker” AppIntroductory Price- For a Limited Time Only $2.99!- Create, Edit, Sign and Email 1 Page Photography Contracts from your iPhone!! Go paperless, reduce clutter, and streamline your contract organization!”A must have for all pro and semi-pro photographers.” – Paul R”I loved the customization features. The placeholders are HUGE. Flexible enough for anyone needing one page contracts to use. Awesome job!” – Cyndi C”Brilliant! Michael has done it again!” – John SFeatures– Comes with 4 great starter photography sample contracts: 1. Photo Shoot Contract2. Model Release3. Copyright Release4. 2nd Shooter- Work for Hire- “Settings” screen allows photographer to enter all of his/her information, including signature. This information is automatically embedded into templates. (Edit and Change your info at anytime.)- Add, Manage, & Sync “Client” List to and from iPhone Contact list.- “Auto Embed” Feature automatically inserts Photographers and Clients Information into template contracts. (This is a huge time saver, all you need to do is select which client you want. App will feed their info from your iPhone contact list).- Select Date (Dual Feature Selection) and Time of Shoot – Shoot Date and Time – Automatically embedded into each contract with shoot data fields.- Create New Client Contracts (Unlimited)- Create New Contract Templates (Up to 12)- Edit Current Contract Templates, including “Add”, “2x” (Duplicate), “Edit” and “Delete”- Edit Single Draft Contracts (Allows you to change parts of a new contract without effecting a template)- Clients can “Sign” and “Resign” using their finger on touch sensitive screen.- Contracts are converted to PDF documents which you can then archive by emailing to yourself and/or your client.- “Saved” Contracts allows you to access previously saved contracts, signed or unsigned.- Unsigned Contracts can be signed later. – “Placeholders” allow users to create their own custom templates and still have auto-embedding features! (Wow!!)- Save and Email Unsigned Contracts- Works in Horizontal and Vertical Modes- Contact your Clients from your “Client List”- Trash Bin, allows you to recycle or empty deleted contracts and templatesFor More Information, tips and tricks, or to make suggestions for future updates please visit: http://www.iphonecontractmaker.com…MoreMIchael The Maven Web Site Photographers Contract Maker Support iPhone ScreenshotsCustomer ReviewsSuperb! by AL photographer What an awesome app! So intuitive and easy to use. My very favorite thing about it (other than the obvious: that does away with the need for so much paper, and that I will no longer have to kick myself if I accidentally forget to bring the model release to the shoot) is that the program can import my clients’ information and automatically insert it into contracts, releases, etc. I am looking forward to my next photo shoot so I can put it to good use!It’s about time!!!! by iskialta Thus is the greatest app ever! I love having all of the options at my fingertips! The first client I used this on (today) thought it was so cool, and was so impressed that it was emailed to her! I highly recommend this to everyone!Innovative by KMJustice I can’t think of an easier or more efficient way to handle my contracts. I’m so glad somebody came up with this idea. This is a fantastic product that I will highly recommend to all of my photographer friends. My contracts will always be with me, in one place.Customers Also Bought Second Shootr Photography View In iTunes Bride & Groom Poses – Wedding Photo Posing Guide Photography View In iTunes SmartStudio: Wedding Photographer Studio Manager Photography View In iTunes PhotoAssist Photography View In iTunes Photo Tutor Module1 Photography View In iTunes View In iTunes $2.99 Category: Photography Released: Feb 17, 2010 Version: 1.034 0.4 MB Language: English Seller: Michael Shiffler Œ© Michael The Maven Rated 4+ Requirements: Compatible with iPhone and iPod touch. Requires iPhone OS 3.1.2 or later. Customer RatingsCurrent Version: 28 Ratings

  3. Angela Ferguson on February 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Good for you that you brush off those who try to hurt you with their words. Congratulations on accomplishing what you set out to do.

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