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21 Creative Self-Portrait Photography Ideas You Should Try

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Self portrait photography is all about capturing the essence of who you are in a photograph. It can be a fun and challenging way to express yourself, and it’s also a great way to learn more about how you see yourself.

But self portrait photography can be tricky – it’s not always easy to capture your own personality in a photo. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 21 creative self portrait photography ideas that should help get you started.

A girl posing for a portrait

Essential Equipment for Self-Portrait Photography

Starting with the right equipment will make self-portrait photography easier. A tripod and a remote are essential tools. They’re both very affordable and enduring. Investing in them is something you won’t regret.

A sturdy tripod will keep your camera safe, while a remote will let you use your timer from a distance. This will save a lot of time and help you focus more on the quality of your work.

Lighting is another crucial aspect of self-portrait photography. Natural light can look great. But you have very little control over it. You can use additional lighting to give yourself more creative freedom.

A ring light is perfect for self-portraits. They provide soft and evenly spread light. You can use them to remove unwanted shadows on the face. Or you can use them for directional light.

Reflectors are another excellent tool for light control. A mirror works well as a DIY reflector if you don’t have the budget.

An overhead shot of a Canon DSLR camera21 Self-Portrait Photography Ideas to Inspire You

In the beginning, you might feel lost. You don’t know what poses, facial expressions, and decorations to use. Find portrait photographers you admire, try to recreate their work, and ask them for advice. By experimenting with different styles, you’ll find your style.

Some of the most influential artists in my life are self-portrait photographers. Check out Rosie Hardy or Sophie Eggert for some ideas. Getting photography inspiration from others helps me when I lose creative motivation.

This is why I’d like to share these creative self-portrait ideas. They will spark your imagination, encourage you to look at things differently, or make you laugh. Feel free to adopt any of these to better suit your photography style.

1. Create Characters Through Props and Costumes

Self-portraits are an excellent way to explore and express yourself. But you can also use them as a means of escape. By using props and costumes, you can create a whole new persona. It can be an alter-ego—an expression of your inner desires or interests.

Building characters with self-portrait photography is a fantastic storytelling device. The props and costumes you use can create new characters. They can be protagonists in wild adventures or magical fairy tales. Jovana Rikalo uses elaborate costumes to build fairy tale characters. These characters inhabit her imaginative stories and landscapes.

Self-portrait of woman with spiky floral crown
© Jovana Rikalo

2. Add Rainbows

Vibrant colors and faces work very well together. If you don’t want to spend money on a prism, you can still create a stunning rainbow effect. All you need is a CD and a flashlight. Make sure the shiny side of your CD gets as much light as possible. Move it around until you have colorful stripes on your face. To make this process easier, use a mirror, a tripod, and a remote.
Mysterious self-portrait photography showing rainbow effect on a girls face created with a CD

3. Photograph Your Silhouette

Silhouettes are great for those who don’t want to show their faces or those who want to look like someone else. These photos work very well with a shallow depth of field because of the resulting bokeh. It creates a soft, dreamy look.

To create a silhouette, stand in front of a background that is brighter than you. Make sure you stand so that it highlights the outline of your face. Then experiment with no fear!
a silhouette self-portrait of a long haired girl in front of a windowsill

4. Transform Silhouettes into Double Exposures

Silhouettes are ideal for creating double exposures. A dark outline against a bright background is all you need to make artistic self-portraits. I often create double exposures out of pure curiosity.

You don’t need to have a groundbreaking idea in mind to create something fascinating. All you have to do is combine a photo of your outline with an image that complements your photo.
Awesome double exposure self-portrait of a female model

5. Use DIY Backgrounds for Self Portrait Photography

DIY photography is cheap, easy, and accessible to anyone. Make backgrounds out of fabric, bed sheets, curtains, clothes, or anything else that catches your eye. The background in the photos below is a simple curtain that I taped to the wall. Though it’s wrinkled, it gives my self-portraits an exciting texture.
Triptych portraits of a girl using a curtain as a creative DIY background

6. Do Something You Really Enjoy

Take a series of self-portraits in your happy place, wherever that is. It will make the shooting process enjoyable and allow you to make the most of several hobbies at once.

I enjoy playing the guitar (as you can see), reading, and exploring. These are all interests that I can combine to show my love for both photography and life. Think about your interests, and then figure out ways to connect them in one photo.
a girl playing guitar sitting on a log in a forest during fall, as a creative self-portrait photography idea

7. Take Photos with Your Pet (Or a Person!)

Pets are photogenic, so why not include them in your photos? If you own a pet or live next to someone who means a lot to you, take a photo with them.

Getting support during a self-portrait photography session will give you comfort, warmth, and lots of ideas. It will also strengthen the bond you have with your loved one.

If your pet doesn’t enjoy sitting still, don’t force it. Experiment, be silly, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Experimental photos end up being the best ones, anyway.Cute self-portrait photo of a girl and cat making silly faces.

8. Transform Yourself Using Wigs and Costumes

Many people avoid self-portrait photography because they don’t feel attractive enough. Instead of feeling bad about your appearance, transform yourself! If you don’t want to take photos of yourself, why don’t you become another person?

Wigs and costumes, regardless of their quality, look great in self-portraits. A cheap brown wig will look stunning in a close-up self-portrait, even if it looks unflattering in real life. Using costumes and wigs is fun and helps you take impressive self-portrait photos.

Close up portrait of a long haired female model

9. Focus on Details

Self-portraits don’t have to be photos of a face. They can be photos of hands holding something beloved, feet splashing in a puddle, or a faceless figure admiring its surroundings in nature. Details like these are as valuable as a photo of your face.

Look around, find a detail that catches your eye, and interact with it while taking photos. Other details you could take photos of are parts of your body like hair, hands, or eyes.four photo grid of facial details- eyes, hands, mouths, nose, for a creative self-portrait idea

10. Get an Interesting Headdress (Or Make Your Own!)

Hats, flower crowns, and other fancy headwear look fantastic in photos. If you’re feeling extra artistic, make your own headdress using flowers (like I did), branches, fabric, or anything else. The world is your oyster when it comes to DIY photography!
flower headdress for creative self portrait photography

11. Be Silly

Many people feel awkward at the beginning of a self-portrait session. You get more comfortable if you practice different expressions in the mirror. You can also accept your flaws and become your own parody.

Pull different facial expressions, move around, and make yourself laugh. Though I can’t guarantee that the results will please you, I can promise that they will bring a big smile to your face.

Four photo grid of a female model making silly faces showing how to have fun with self-portraiture

12. Shoot Through Objects

Partly covering your lens will result in experimental and creative self-portraits. Shoot through things like lights, hands, and branches if you want to do so. You can use branches to create a frame around your face or add an interesting element to your photos. Steam can create eye-catching shadows.

If you want a fuller effect, shoot through windows for brilliant reflections, or cellophane for a dreamy effect. Use bokeh filters to transform them into hearts, stars, or other shapes. You can use almost anything in a composition to make creative self-portraits. Use the entire object or only parts of it.

self-portrait of a girl using reflections to add depth

13. Hide Parts of Your Face

Instead of taking photos of your entire face, focus on one area only. I like to cover parts of my face with curtains, hair, and blurred foregrounds. This concealment highlights my eyes and challenges me to make the most of only one feature.

The best thing about “hidden” self-portraits is that you don’t have to go far to take them. It’s possible to take simple yet cool self-portraits right now!
portrait of a girl hiding behind a white doily, only half of her face is visible

14. Pretend You’re in a Movie

If you are like me and love cinematic portraits, you’ll enjoy acting in front of the camera. Create a story in your mind, visualize the scenes, and recreate them through self-portrait photography.

Your idea doesn’t need a complicated twist or a surprising ending. Add two black lines above and below your photos in the editing process. You can even crop them, so they look more like film stills. Doing this is a great reason to rewatch films to get even more inspiration for future projects.

cinematic self portrait photography recreating scenes from a movie

15. Shoot in Black and White

Black and white portraits are a special genre of their own. If there’s an emotion you’d like to emphasize, experiment with B&W photography. It will highlight your feelings and add texture to details you might otherwise ignore. It also gives you more experience in the genre.
Atmospheric black and white portrait of a young woman hiding her head in her hands. Self portrait photography

16. Go Limited

Having too many options at once can feel paralyzing. Limiting yourself by shooting at only one location can improve your work.

Do a photoshoot in one room and make the pictures look like you took them in different locations. It will not only give you a fun project to work on but force you to look at your surroundings from a new perspective. This challenge will also make you focus on details that you usually overlook.

It will improve your general creativity and sharpen your ability to notice great things in simple places. What you learn during this process will come in handy in every future shoot.

picture taken through a cabinet door of a young woman. Self portrait photography

17. Make a Diptych

A diptych is a “collage” made of two photos. These images often contain many subjects that tell a detailed story about the photographer. This is particularly handy in self-portraiture.

You can combine a simple photo of yourself with a gorgeous photo of nature. Diptychs come in handy when you have two photos you like a lot. Instead of choosing one, you can use them both at once!
Self-portrait photography of a dark haired girl using two pictures to make a diptych.

18. Stick to One Color at a Time

Pick a single color and create a self-portrait photo series inspired by it. Though the photos don’t have to feature one color only, they should all have a similar color scheme.

This project will refresh you, challenge your imagination, and give you a chance to unleash your creativity. Plus, you can base the photoshoot on the clothes in your wardrobe.
A girl poses for self portrait photography emphasising the use of only one colour, green

19. Experiment with Shadows and Lighting

My favorite portrait photographers are excellent at shadow-play. You can do so much with the help of a single light source and a pattern.

Give yourself as much freedom as possible when you experiment with light. Use sun hats, curtains, hands, or plants to create incredible, creative self-portrait photography.

Light is a priceless tool that can make the simplest portraits look fantastic. When you become a master of light, you become a master of photography. Take photos both indoors and outdoors, and don’t be afraid to break the rules as you do.

Don’t be scared of working with artificial light. You don’t need to invest in professional lighting equipment. You can use any indoor light you own to take creative self-portraits. I often use a lamp to light my face because it lets me experiment with new angles and styles. I don’t have to worry about time, which isn’t the case when it comes to ever-changing natural light.

 Self-portrait photography close up of a woman's face covered by a shadowy pattern

20. Stitch Photos to Make a Panoramic Self Portrait

Panoramas are fun to make and pleasant to look at. This is how I make mine:

  1. I take vertical self-portraits that don’t crop any of my limbs and leave space around me using a tripod.
  2. Then, I go back to my camera and take photos of the areas I’d like to stitch. I make sure that I don’t make any quick movements or position myself in another location.
  3. After that, I import my photos into Lightroom. I select the photos I’d like to stitch and go to Photo > Edit In > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop.
  4. Finally, I color correct the results.

A self portrait picture of a redheaded woman standing on a road.

21. Document the Seasons

Each season has something worth photographing. Take self-portraits every season. This way, you can work on a year-long project. The results will give you pleasant memories, show you every side of nature’s beauty, and impress others.

If a long-term project doesn’t excite you, make the most of the current season. Think of what you like about it. It could be the blooming sunflowers of summer or the colorful fallen leaves of autumn.

Photograph that and include yourself in it.
A woman dressed in black looking away from the photo, standing in a forest during autumn. Self portrait photography

Conclusion

Taking photos of yourself will improve your self-confidence and develop your creative eye.

Like any photography genre, self-portrait photography needs to be meaningful and touching. Every photographer has a unique creative purpose. If you don’t know your purpose, don’t lose hope. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. This is how we learn! The more you practice, the easier the challenges will get.

Hopefully, these ideas will encourage you to go out and explore the wonderful world of self-portrait photography. Remember, you and your camera are everything you need to take a great photo of yourself.

Check out our Creative Portrait Concepts e-book to learn how to take mind-blowing portraits!

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