This is day 1 of my 30 Day Photography Challenge, and I thought I’d start with an easy one for everyone, which doesn’t require too much effort—it’s a self-portrait.
The good thing about self-portraits is that you have full control over how the photo is taken and you don’t end up looking like too much of a fool. Be honest, we’re all a bit self-conscious about having our photo taken.
I’m going to be keeping these photos short, sweet, and to the point, so let’s get started.
First things first: you need a location.
Location for Self Portraits
Where do you want your photo to be taken, and what do you want it to say about you?
Has something happened in your life recently, that you feel like you could represent in a photo? Perhaps you’ve just had a baby, so you could be in the baby’s room. Or a new job? Maybe you just want to use some mirrors, so you could set yourself up in the bathroom. Perhaps you’re a private person and don’t want a particularly revealing photo at all.
Think about how you can give a little bit of information about yourself in your photos, and then use it.
This photo was taken today, after moving into my new flat just 3 days ago. The new flat is right on the beach, with views of 2 piers in Brighton, England, and even some cliffs in the distance. An obvious location.
Find Your Best Angle
It seems like some sort of a joke, but it’s best to find which side looks best. After all, faces aren’t as symmetric as they appear.
I don’t just mean that you should find your best side though, you should also pay attention to the height your photo has been taken at. Pointing upwards doesn’t do my double chin any favors, and it’s not a good look for most people, so shoot head-on, or facing down slighting. Not too dramatically downwards though, MySpace was a long time ago.
Where to put the Camera
Tripod or handheld, that’s the main question.
If you’re using a tripod, then this makes for much more consistent results, although it can take much longer as you keep going back to the camera to check the results, and wait for the self-timer to do its thing.
If you want to speed up the process, then I would suggest tethering the camera to a TV, and using a remote. That way, you can continue to see how you look, while you’re taking photos. Use a remote for easy reach too.If you opt for shooting handheld, remember that it’s harder to get the result that you want, and the camera is going to be much closer than it would be with a tripod.
Use a Mirror
We can all find a smile we’re happy with when we’re looking into a mirror, but end up looking like some wonky-faced idiot when it comes to smiling for a photo. Stare at a mirror while you’re taking a photo, or better still, point the camera into the mirror at your face, so you can’t even tell there’s a mirror there (clean it first).
Where to Look
Consider eye-lines and what they do for your photos. Where do you want people to look; at you, or somewhere else? If you look straight into the camera, you create eye contact with the viewer, but if you look away, they will follow your eyes and look in the same direction.
I’ve talked about revealing a part of yourself with your location, but what about with your emotions? You could be super happy with a new partner, scared in a house of horrors, excited at an amusement park…
Emotion is powerful, but there’s no need to go too overboard. This isn’t drama school.
Lastly, we have lighting. Do you want to use a flash, or purely natural light? What are your reasons for each?
I personally used a flash with a beauty dish, because I wanted to use my rolled up sleeves to add contrasting texture to the rest of the photo.
Natural lighting conveys a completely different mood though, it’s much more relaxed and easy to look at, so again, you can express a different emotion. Ok, so that’s Day 1 of my 30 Day Photography Challenge out of the way. Tomorrow I will be focusing on a photo using the rule of thirds.