Self-portraits. I could say SO MUCH about this topic. But for the purposes of this article, I’ll try and keep it short and sweet on how to get started taking them. There are many ways to go about taking self-portraits and mine is not the only way. But this is how I do it, so here goes.
What you’ll need (aside from your camera and yourself)
2) Interval timer shutter release (set to trigger the shutter every 3 seconds after I start it, and will stop after 30)
3) One window or light source
5) Black sheet for backdrop (optional – a blank wall works too)
6) Optional fan
There are two spots in my house and my garage that I use. The indoor spots are near a window. For the garage shots, my garage door is open and I place a white sheet across the opening to defuse the light, with a black sheet as the backdrop. The lighting I like best is using only ONE light source, coming from the side. All other light sources I turn off or block closed.
After setting up the tripod, connecting the interval timer, and setting the scene, I turn on the music, set my camera to auto focus and start the interval timer. I take a few shots this way and then check the image to see if it’s getting focus where I want it, adjust or change the focus point, and take some more. I have a general idea where I need to be in relation to where I set the focus point, so if my focus is off I’ll just move myself closer to that point.
Now here’s the part of self-portraits where I pretty much make a fool of myself in front of the camera. I dance. I sway. I twirl. I toss my head around. I do hair flips. I just move. And it’s so awesome because no one is watching. And I feel free. Yeah, it feels awkward. It feels weird. It feels narcissistic. But in the process I learn. I learn what it feels like in my head when I try certain poses or looks that I’ve tried to get clients to do for me. I learn what happens when I really let go of all the rules of photography and just try what it would look like if I set my shutter to 1/125 in low light. Some of my favorite images have been created through this process.
So I’ve shared some of the how. But I’d like to end with a few of the whys.
We are photographers. We value people being photographed. Everyone is deserving of being photographed and existing in photographs. All too often though we believe this about everyone except for ourselves. Let’s practice what we preach, while also learning the valuable lesson about what it actually feels like to place ourselves in front of the camera like our clients do for us.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have! I’m an open book.