When I started self-portrait photography, I often struggled with indoor photography. I found walls and ceilings dull, to be quite honest. And it made me hate lousy weather and yearn for summer all the time.
But now, the seasons no longer restrict my self-portraiture photography. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain or snowing outside. I can still fulfill my self-portrait ideas and artistic needs. I do this by going to indoor places that don’t rely on the weather.
7 Fun and Creative Self-Portrait Locations
7. Thrift Stores (For the Rare Finds)
We know that second-hand stores have great deals. But they’re also great locations for indoor photoshoots! The lighting may not always be perfect. But the clothing, accessories, and even furniture can inspire your photoshoot. So keep an eye out for exciting and inspiring props!
Ask for permission to use the store’s items as props for your photos if possible. Many shops are very strict regarding cameras. So you might get a few rejections. Don’t take it personally or get discouraged. Advertising or mentioning the thrift store online in exchange for using the location is an option.
Thrift stores tend to be quieter on weekdays. That’s when I’d recommend visiting them. If you don’t have any in your area, try visiting an antique store. You’ll discover a quirky new world of photo opportunities when you find a store. On top of that, you can find a gorgeous and irresistible item to take home with you!
6. Greenhouses (For the Nature Lovers)
Greenhouses merge the vibrancy of the outside world with the warmth of home. It’s a cozy atmosphere that can help create photos for any portfolio. Other than being welcoming, they’re usually well-lit. Taking self-portraits in an open space like this gives you lots of natural light to work with. It also provides you with a comfortable, peaceful space to practice your art. It’s a perfect portrait location for self-portraits. You can roam around, surrounded by flowers, while the weather rages outside.
But remember, every greenhouse has its own rules about touching and photographing plants. Make sure you’re familiar with restrictions beforehand to avoid unnecessary stress when taking pictures.
Ensure Proper Focus in Self-Portraits
There’s a new challenge with so many details and colors in photos like this. It’s getting the proper focus for your self-portraits! Make sure that your camera won’t focus on any plants in the foreground if you use auto-focus. If you use manual focus, place an item where you’d like to stand and focus on that first. That guarantees sharp results!
Jovana Rikalo makes brilliant use of this environment. She uses flowers and plants in greenhouses as foreground and middle-ground. Their exquisite colors alone give you self-portrait ideas you’ve never thought of before.
5. Transportation (For the Travellers)
Use the interiors of buses, cars, trains, and airplanes to take fantastic self-portraits. It’s an excellent place for shallow depth of field and close-ups from your DSLR. Plus, the ever-changing scenery and light allow you to experiment with different backdrops.
But as fun as this can be, taking photos surrounded by strangers can also be intimidating. Keep the following in mind when taking self-portraits on public transportation:
- Make sure buses and trains aren’t too crowded when you take self-portraits. Go out when there aren’t too many people around, so you don’t have to worry about awkward encounters, lack of space, or theft.
- Keep your camera close at all times. Or, put it away in a safe camera bag when you move from place to place—even if there aren’t many people around.
- I don’t recommend using a tripod. Instead, use an empty seat, your knees, or just your hands when using a timer.
- Don’t take self-portraits when you’re rushing somewhere else. You’ll increase your chances of leaving valuable equipment behind.
Alternatively, you can always take photos in train museums or a friend’s car if you have safety concerns when traveling.
I took this photo during a rainstorm. The raindrops on the car window inspired me to take out my camera and experiment. The result was a diptych, proving that you can take compelling self-portraits anywhere… no matter how bad the weather is.
4. A Friend’s House (For Bad Weather Days)
A friend’s place is familiar enough to keep you comfortable. But there are enough unknowns to give you fresh ideas. You can spend quality time with your friend and take cozy self-portraits in this new environment. It’s an opportunity to not only get better at indoor photography but to celebrate your friendship!
Another benefit of taking photos in a friend’s house is the lack of boredom you’ll experience. Taking pictures at home can often result in creative blocks, distractions, and tiredness.
Taking photos at a friend’s place replaces all these obstacles with a flow of ideas, more focus, and energy.
Support from Others Improves Self-Portraits
If you’re a beginner in self-portrait photography, taking photos with a friend will help you practice. Your friend doesn’t even have to be a part of the photo. They could help you find the best lighting, pose, and expression. Instead of feeling shy or giving up, you’ll feel motivated to improve. You could even have an indoor photoshoot together if your friend is open to being photographed. It gives you both self-portrait and portrait experience.
Then, future photoshoots with other people will be easier to manage. Plus, it gives you and your friend beautiful memories to keep for the rest of your lives. Self-portrait photography is all about independence. But the support of friends or family can help improve your craft.
3. Libraries and Bookstores (For Fellow Bookworms)
You must have at least one self-portrait in a place overflowing with books if you love reading. Besides being filled with knowledge, books are photogenic. They make consistent yet eye-catching backgrounds, colorful foregrounds, and thoughtful subjects. It’s not surprising that there are so many beautiful book-related photos out there.
Here are a few ideas for indoor library photoshoots:
- Shoot through bookshelves
- Take a photo of yourself looking through interesting books
- Make a diptych, a collage of two photographs. For instance, use a detailed photo of a page and a wider shot of you holding a stack of books.
As is the case with thrift stores, not every library or bookstore will permit you to take photos. If there are no nearby locations open to photographers, try a second-hand book store. Or, you can try a thrift store with a book section.
Don’t be afraid to get lost in the reading experience when you take photos of yourself with books. You can take great pictures and find incredible books at the same time!
2. Cafés (To Stay Warm and Inspired)
Coffee shops are an excellent place for creative self-portrait images. Usually, cafés have great lighting and cozy atmospheres. Plus, there are also many warm beverages to keep you toasty during a snowstorm or heavy rain. Many of them offer private spaces and a safe, relaxing atmosphere. That’s why so many portrait photographers are drawn to them.
If you feel uncomfortable in coffee shops bustling with people, ask a friend to tag along. Having someone next to you makes you feel supported, and you’ll photograph better self-portraits.
Inspiration for Café Self-Portraits
Most cafés allow you to access the Internet, too. You can look for inspiration and self-portrait photography tips as you shoot.
If you want to take it a step further, create a mood board a few days before you go out. Fill it with self-portrait photos in cafés you love.
You can also add empowering photography quotes and memories that energize you. Save the mood board as a PDF file, e-mail, Pinterest board, or app. Once you arrive at your destination, all you’ll have to do is look at your phone to feel inspired.
1. Studio (You’ll Love This If You Love Experiments)
Try this out, even if you’re not familiar with studio photography. Studios are a fantastic opportunity to refresh your perspective. They can help you reach new creative heights.
Renting a studio for a few hours (or days) will give you access to space where your ideas can grow. You’ll have all the privacy you need to focus, photograph, and learn. You won’t need to use professional lighting equipment if you have a natural light source. But you can use simple lighting setups if you like.
If you can’t afford to rent a studio or if there aren’t any in your area, you can make one at home. There are a lot of affordable backdrops available online. They can turn a dull wall or corner into an exciting little studio.
I often use backdrops that aren’t even professional. Use curtains, large sheets of paper, or simple white walls as a DIY backdrop. These all have the potential to spark your imagination.
Having a controlled studio space for a selfie allows you a lot of creative freedom. All you need is a smartphone or DSLR with a self-timer!
Indoor photography has meant plenty of opportunities to create new and exciting self-portraits. It led me to find endless potential in confined spaces. Plus, I discovered the beauty of indoor lighting and learned to enhance details.
It was very different from what I was used to doing. But it shaped me into being more than just a self-portrait artist. It turned me into a better, more creative photographer in general.
Indoor self-portrait photography introduces you to new challenges and photography locations. It exposes you to new ideas, subjects, connections, and more! Give at least one of these locations a chance. You’ll find a whole new world of self-portrait possibilities!
Try out our Fantastic Photo Adventures course to learn how to create whimsical self-portraits!