If you’re following me on Instagram, or this blog, you may have noticed a series of self portraits recently. If you’re not following me on Instagram, now is a great time to start (shameless self promo). The real reason I took them was because I needed practice. I had a headshot shoot coming up. I knew I wanted to use my flash, and honestly I hadn’t shot a headshot, or used my flash, in a while. I didn’t want to look foolish in front of the client, so I practiced.
Preparation is Key
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. I try to go into every shoot with ideas of what I want so that if I blank out in the moment, I have notes to fall back on. When shooting self portraits, it’s always a good idea to know what you want before you go through the process of setting everything up. What clothes do you want to wear? What kind of lighting set up do you need? How do you want the final photo to look? What kind of self portrait is it? These are all valuable questions to ask before you even set up the camera. The more prepared you are, the better your photos will be. I went into these shoots with several ideas in mind. I would start with the professional headshot look and progressively go artistic. This way, I got the practice I needed, and I got be pretend to be a model without anyone judging me (except Errin).
After you’ve planned everything out, it’s time to set up. Depending on the look, feel and lens you have, will determine how much space you need. Some of my self portraits were shot in my office on a white backdrop and others were shot in my dining room against a blank wall. Wherever you decide to shoot, just make sure the scene is how you want it to look. Place props and remove all the things you don’t want in the photo. It’s easy to say “I’ll remove it in post” but why fix it in post when you can fix it in camera? For some of the shots on the sofa, I completely forgot about my phone. It was fine for me because it went with the theme, but looking back, I should have just re-taken the photos without the phone in the shot.
Posing and Inspiration
You have the theme set. The backdrop is locked and loaded. Now all you have to do is pose right? Using resources like Instagram, YouTube, and Unsplash I compiled a list of poses that I wanted to try during my self portrait session. I created collections on Instagram, watched tons of YouTube videos, and created a collection on unsplash of male model poses. I wanted to look like a model (or at least try to). That’s not necessary, but I do think that if you have ideas of poses, it will not only help you pose future clients, but it will help you direct the client better. You can confidently say from experience that sticking your neck out and tilting your head down feels awkward but photographs well.
All in Due Time
This tip is completely based on your camera model and your preference. I currently have a Canon T3i (hoping to upgrade very soon). This camera allows me to either use the self timer or use a wireless remote. I picked up a wireless remote from Amazon for about $10 and haven’t even tried to use the timer since. Newer models of cameras have wifi abilities that allow you to connect your phone to the camera via wifi or bluetooth. This allows you to see what the shot looks like and even change camera settings. Because my camera is on the older end, I did not have that option and used the wireless remote to shoot my self portraits, and I think they turned out fine.
You’re Going to Mess Up
While shooting self portraits can be extremely fun and entertaining, you will get frustrated and you will mess up. The camera angle will be off. You’ll sneeze mid shutter. You’ll wonder what your body was doing and why it looks like that. It’s ok. It’s ok to take 50 shots and only get 1 good one. By taking those “bad” shots, you learn how to photograph yourself and others. You learn little tricks to make you look a certain way. Some things can be learned by watching but you won’t fully understand until you try it yourself. Only then (and by taking thousands of photos) will you master the art of the self portrait.
Thanks for reading. If you take self portraits or have taken self portraits, I’d love to see them. Share them (or the links to them) in the comments down below.