Self portraits are a great way to improve your photography skills. You want to practice your portraiture but can’t find a model. Your friends are sick of you and your camera, your spouse hides when she sees your gear bag come out: What are you to do? Self-portraits, son.
With self portraits you don’t need to feel rushed as you would with a model or a friend; you only have to worry about numero uno. You can fuss with the lighting, perfect the exposure, and craft your pose, without looking like a total tool.
What can you do with self portraits? Explore the science (and dark art) of lighting. Learn about exposure, depth of field, and composition. It’s a way to experiment. No, taking self-portraits does not make you look like a typical internet teenager – there’s great value in stepping out from behind the lens. You can use the tips and tricks you learn when you photograph real people. If you’re an aspiring strobist, self portraits give you an amazing opportunity to practice new lighting set-ups, perfecting them before bringing in a bored spouse or significant other.
What gear do you need for self portraits?
- There are a few items needed for uber-successful portraits of self, most of which you have or can easily pick up:
Remote shutter release (Like the Phottix Plato Wireless Remote Shutter Release)
- Flash or natural light
- Using a Live View Remote like a Phottix Hero or Hector is extremely useful in composition and triggering. Shooting tethered, using your laptop or television is also an option to assist in composition and perfecting your pose.
1) Be wacky. Go crazy in your self-portraits, make faces, show emotion, use props, dress up – nobody can see you, just your camera. Pick a theme and shoot a series of photos.
2) Shoot different body parts. You can shoot anything; don’t feel boxed in by the standard headshot. Legs, knees, arms, elbows – its fair game.
3) Have a focus aid ready.Obtaining focus in low light can be a challenge. There’s nothing worse then getting yourself “in character” and posed only to hear the whirl of your AF motor as your camera tries unsuccessfully to lock on. You can place an object where you will be standing/sitting/jumping/laying, pre-focus behind the camera and then flip to manual focus, locking in your setting. Or have a small torch handy if you’re shooting in low light. Shine it on yourself to assist your camera in focusing.
4) Seek inspiration from others. Are you sitting in front of your camera taking frame after frame of yourself looking morose and bored? Take a look at flick – there are many awesome self portrait experts. Take a swim in a self portrait flickr pool. Take a look at fotowelle and TxAlleKat who both shoot self portraits using Phottix remotes.
5) Start a 52 project. Get committed – take a self portrait a week for a year. By the end you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve learned.