There’s something I must confess:
I’m addicted to taking self portraits.
I’ve been turning the camera on myself for years and Lord only knows how many exposures I have used up over the years trying to perfect my self portrait technique.
In my life, I’ve come to the conclusion, I’m the only one who seems to be able to capture my good side. My father always makes me look like the Jolly Green Giant by using bad, low angles. My husband seems to catch me with my eyes closed and/or talking (usually because I’m telling him how to take the picture.) My eldest son usually catches me being a big goof (not a far cry from normalcy, really.)
Me though? I ALWAYS take the best pictures of myself.
What’s So Great About Self Portraits?
One Chin, Please: I bring the camera a little above eye level. This eliminates the double chin that I have acquired over the years.
I Can Work It, Baby: I tend to angle my shoulders, to create depth. I don’t want a straight on shot. That’s just boring and not flattering, at all.
The Eyes Tell Stories: I often look away from the camera. It’s playful and whimsical, in my opinion, and a little coy. Looking at the camera can create a whole different dynamic, as well.
Rest Assured: Relax. This is the digital age. Take as many shots as you like until you get that perfect shot.
Creativity At Its Best: You don’t always have to take self portraits of your face. Focus on other parts of your body, take pictures of your shadow, allow the creative juices to flow, and you are likely to get some really fun shots of yourself.
Odds are we don’t have time to hire someone to take our head shots. We need pictures for our websites or blogs, Facebook, Twitter, message boards, business cards, etc.., but we don’t have the time to fit a photo-shoot into our busy schedules. Easiest thing to do is hold the camera out in front of us and shoot! Self portraits are easy and convenient.
How To Take Awesome Self Portraits
Step 1: Pull out the camera, turn it on, and set it to your favorite shooting mode. If that’s Auto mode, fine (I don’t recommend it, but that’s totally another subject.) If it’s Aperture Value (AV), perfect. If you like Program (P) mode the best, so be it. Do what you are comfortable with and SHOOT! [Remember: Don’t just pull it out and shoot. Check your settings and focal range if you are using a DSLR vs. a point-and-shoot.]
Step 2: Secure the camera in your hand and bring it up above your eye-level. Angling the camera a little above eye level will really help eliminate the appearance of any extra chins you may have. Oh and never (I mean NEVER) hold the camera below eye level. I can guarantee you will not like the result. [Note: You can place your camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter release. It's actually my preferred method for self portraits]
Step 3: It’s the digital age, so shoot until your happy with the result. Bring one shoulder back, extend your neck a little, shift your eyes away from the camera, have fun being your very own super model. Try different backgrounds. Get creative. Be unique!
Self Portrait Fun
Another aspect that I love about taking self portraits is the fact that I am creating a visual document of my life, for myself and my family. It’s so easy to hide behind the camera, but we need to put ourselves in front of it just as much.
There are so many ways to get creative. There are self portrait challenge groups to join. There are even websites to be a part of that make it easy to even use your cell phone camera to document your self portraits.
In 2007/2008 I took one self portrait a day, for a year, and the result of the project was amazing. While I haven’t done another year long project I haven’t stopped turning the camera on myself. This is a life long obsession, and it’s one that I hope you will take part in.
I’d love to see yours. Share a link of your favorite self portrait in the comments section!
Mishelle Lane is a born-and-raised Buffalonian, wife of a pilot, mother of four, and professional photographer who currently resides outside of Atlanta. Online she has been writing on her personal weblog, Secret Agent Mama, since 2005, with a mix of photography, self exploration, poetry, and quirk, as well as playing with social media on Facebook and Twitter. While she is passionate about many things, nothing makes Mishi happier than when she is behind her camera, snapping away. And, very rarely will you see her without her camera. You can read more from Mishi on her blog, Secret Agent Mama.