Self Portraits in One Hour
Do you have an hour? And a DSLR? You should take some self portraits.
I have a Canon 6D with WIFI built in (this is what’s in my camera bag) and my favorite way to do self portraits is by connecting the camera to my phone via the Canon Camera Connect app. You’re able to control so much, settings and focus and so on, and I like it better than setting a timer and hoping for the best. I also prefer taking the time to set up my actual camera on a tripod - this is a more flexible option than finding a spot on a table or chair or bookshelf at the right height.
But if all you have is your phone take the time to set it up (tiny phone tripod, propped up by a book, on a steady table or bookshelf) and use the timer. Having your hands free makes a huge difference in the final look and feel of your photos. And at some point I’ll get around to sharing my favorite photos apps for editing though these days I tend to stick to the DSLR and Lightroom because I prefer to have as much control as possible.
I draw a lot of inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest - I love editorial fashion photography and close personal portraits in black and white. One of the things I love about both of these platforms is being exposed to so many incredibly talented and creative people and ideas. And there’s always room to try something different or put your own twist on things. The goal isn’t to copy an image, the goal is to do something different.
Self portraits are a great way to experiment with new styles and editing techniques - you’re always around and all you need space and time. Don’t wait for a perfect moment or space to try something new, work with what you’ve got and crop what you don’t like in an image out.
I took the photos above by the big window in my living room. What you can’t see but I can promise you is still there right this very second are the millions of kid toys and mess. My recommendation is to push everything into a giant pile just outside the view of the lens. I’m not saying don’t clean but I think creativity should always come first.
Something I never expected to have an issue with as a photographer is finding models. Even my kids don’t always agree to let me take all the photos I’d like. They get bored pretty quickly but my daughter has been perfecting her runway walk and for a four year old she’s got it nailed down. So more often than not I end up using myself as a subject.
And while you might only set an hour aside for a few quick shots with some editing thrown in you should absolutely take the time to pay more attention to the details. Anyone can snap a selfie in the car and half the time it’s even going to be a decent photo. But if you want something special take the time to think it through.
My Self Portrait Tips:
don’t be afraid to get naked - you don’t have to share your nudity with everyone, this is just for you, and that’s what creative cropping is for.
use props - flowers, blankets, hats, books, whatever you love.
make all of the silly faces - ALL OF THEM.
take a deep breath and close your eyes, open them slowly, breathing out - the result will be an extra moody photo.
keep moving, keep changing your position, try not to freeze up and get stiff.
put some music on or your favorite TV show - I like to put Bob’s Burgers on because then I genuinely laugh or smile and the photos don't look so manic and crazy.
Some other examples of my self portraits are here: