Photo Challenge: Self-Portraits
by Jessica Porter (Mar 22, 2007)
We all do it: snap away at our loved ones, while we're left behind the camera. So, let's step in front of the lens and have some fun with self-portraits!
One of the most popular ways to capture a self-portrait is by utilizing your camera's timer and a tripod or a piece of furniture to rest your camera on. When using an SLR camera, a great tip is to use the manual focus rather than automatic focus. Place a focusing guide (large stuffed animal, a chair, etc) where you'll be positioning yourself in front of the camera. Focus on the object, and then lock the focus in by switching from auto focus to manual focus. (When using a point-and-shoot camera, this step is not necessary.) Set the self-timer, and then you're ready to shoot.
Take a look at what Nicole did with her portrait.
Nicole used the self-timer and tripod method here, using the available light from her large sliding glass door, and her couch as a comfy spot to pose. She created a wonderfully fun self-portrait by using a casual pose and smiling genuinely into the camera.
Yolanda also captured her self-portrait using the timer and tripod method. Using the colorful accents in her bedroom and an interesting angle, Yolanda's self-portrait shows off some lively personality, which beautifully contrasts with her serious expression.
She positioned her tripod about three to four feet away, and while she worked up a sweat running back and forth, the beautiful composition was well worth the effort!
Arm's Length Portraits
A super simple way to capture a self-portrait is to hold your camera out in front of you at arm's length. This can be a bit tricky with an SLR camera, however. A good idea is to use the camera's lens as a "mirror" to better help you capture your photo.
Here, Nicole held her camera at arm's length and tried a more serious expression. With post-processing in Photoshop, she cropped even closer, further adding to the moodiness of the portrait.
This is a fun one to try during those times where you find yourself snapping many pictures of the events and people around you. It's an easy way to grab a fun photo of yourself to document your participation in the day/event, etc.
Another easy way to create a self-portrait is by using a mirror. You can use a bathroom mirror, wall mirror, or really have some fun and try the rearview mirror in your car. Think creatively! For these portraits, I used a full-length mirror that was not mounted to the wall/door, so I simply moved it into a room that had good natural light.
Rather than stick to the traditional idea that I had to show just my face, I chose to add a few details into my portraits such as keeping the main focus on my camera, and then having my oldest daughter jump in for some fun. By focusing on my face beside the camera in the mirror, switching my camera to manual focus, then lowering it to recompose the shot, I was able to capture what I wanted to capture without having to keep the camera up to my eye.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. The most important thing is to have some fun with this. Make sure you're relaxed and have some time to devote to your self-portrait shoot. If you're rushed, stressed, and feeling harried it will only show in your photos. I know it may seem a little daunting at first, but the beauty of self-portraits is that no one has to see the photos unless you choose to show them, so you can feel free to do what you want. Pick up your cameras, dust off those tripods, and be sure to share your portraits in the photography section of the message board!