Self portrait photography is all about capturing the essence of the photographer in a photograph. It can be a way to explore your own identity, or to tell a story that is personal to you. The best self portrait photographers are able to create images that are both introspective and expressive, revealing something of their innermost thoughts and feelings. Here are 21 photographers who excel at this unique genre of photography.
Becoming a Self Portrait Photographer: What is Self-Portrait Photography?
Self-portrait photography is a form of portrait photography where the photographer is the artist and subject. The photographer is taking a picture of themselves.
Today everyone is familiar with the selfie. They’re all over social media. You take your smartphone and snap a picture of yourself. Is the selfie self-portraiture? Not really. You are the photographer and subject. But the self-portrait is more than a quick snap of your face.
It’s not just about getting the most flattering angle. They’re often telling a story or being experimental. Or they can develop alter egos, pretending to be someone they’re not.
Andy Warhol has an excellent collection of self-portraits shot with Polaroid. He exposed his concerns about aging, and often posed in drag, developing a female alter ego.
Robert Mapplethorpe was another self-portrait photographer that liked to play with identity. He would create new identities for himself.
21 Most Influential Self-Portrait Photographers in 2021
This is our list of the most influential and famous self-portrait photographers in 2021.
Natalia Seth is one of the most popular self-portrait photographers. Her work is full of fun. And she has a childish playfulness that brings a smile to your face.
The colors are bright, and there are influences of surrealism in her imagery. She invokes the childish side of our imagination. She reminds us of the stories and fairy tales we loved when we were young.
Her Instagram account has an excellent selection of her work. And she gives you a glimpse behind the curtain. She often has small behind-the-scenes clips that give insight into her process. You can see more of Natalia’s world here.
2. Ziqian Liu | @ziqianqian
Ziqian Liu has a distinct style of photography. It’s a dynamic blend of self-portrait, still-life, and fine art. She uses her body as another object in the ensemble. The human form adds shape and direction to her images.
At first glance, the still-life style seems impersonal. Everything seems inanimate. But once you’ve seen a few images, you realise there is humanity. She uses mirrors and screens, which give the feeling that she’s hiding something.
The imagery is controlled and considered. The images are sharp with shape and angles. But there is a vulnerability in her work. She often implies she’s hiding or being hidden.
Cindy Sherman is a self-portrait photographer following the tradition of Warhol and Mapplethorpe. She uses the form to experiment with alter egos. She creates characters and photographs them in the style of traditional portraiture.
Her photography has a sharp sense of satire. Her characters are exaggerated but recognisable. They’re over the top. But they’re the people from our society.
4. Jamie Beck | @jamiebeck.co
Jamie Beck is an American photographer living and working in France. Her self-portraits take you back in time. The images are styled in the fashion of the 18th and 19th-century aristocracy.
She transports you to the world of Jane Austin. The costume and set design are thoroughly considered. And every detail is precise.
The colors are earthy and slightly muted. This effect makes her portraits resemble paintings from a previous century. Her style of self-portraiture is immersive and fully developed.
Rosie Hardy uses self-portraits as part of her fantasy photography. She is the subject in a world of fairy tales and mythology.
Her self-portraits are elaborately constructed and highly stylised. The imagery is symbolic and recognisable. They are things of vague dreams and barely remembered stories.
Her fantasy style is honed. And her editing is masterful. Her images are colorful. But the palette is slightly muted. It gives a sense of unease as if you’re still not sure this is a good dream.
6. Lizzy Gadd | @elizabethgadd
Lizzy Gadd is a self-portrait photographer from Canada. Her work is a mixture of portraiture and landscape photography. Her settings are dramatic. And her scenes are bold and full of texture.
She uses the landscapes to emphasise herself as the model. Her costumes, often in red or yellow, stand out in the wild locations. There’s a sense of juxtaposition the gives her work a dreamy feeling.
7. Joel Robison | @joelrobison
Joel Robison is a self-portrait photographer that lives and works in the world of fantasy. He is the subject in a recognisable world. But the same rules of physics don’t apply.
He uses incredible camera and editing techniques to create a world of wonder. He often depicts himself as small. It’s as if he’s in a world of giants. The images invoke memories of the BFG or The Borrowers.
Many self-portrait photographers use fantasy. But Joel has a unique sense of playfulness. He’s always engaged with the world he inhabits.
We’re proud to say Joel Robison is one of our collaborators. We worked together to create a Fantastic Photo Adventures photography course. It’s a deep dive into his process, giving you a look behind the wizard’s curtain.
8. Pixie Liao | @bloodypixy
Pixie Liao is a self-portrait photographer that doesn’t take herself too seriously. There is a big fine art influence in her portrait photography. But there is also a sense of humour. She seems to embrace a sense of artistic anarchism.
Some of her work uses her Asian heritage. She combines traditional settings with a sharp, modern style of portrait photography. There’s a definite fine art influence. But she makes her self-awareness clear.
Laura Zalenga is a portrait photographer that plays with surrealism. She isn’t exclusively a self-portrait photographer, but experiments with the genre.
Her portrait photography blends the human form with nature. Her locations are often stark landscapes where the softness of the human body is juxtaposed with hard natural elements.
Laura tends to use a pale color palette that gives her work a cold feeling. It gives her subjects a sense of vulnerability.
Kika Kutova isn’t just one of the most famous self-portrait photographers; she also makes fabulous knitwear. Her self-portraits are often used for advertising her homemade garments. But it also has merit in its own right.
Her self-portraits are warm and full of fun. Her portfolio is cheerful. And she throws in splashes of fantasy and surrealism. The colors are bright and warm. But the tones are muted, which adds to the dream-like quality.
Kika has excellent skills in composition. And she’s a master editor. Her works of surrealism are seamlessly put together. The self-portraits seem to give a window into her own life. Her work is an expression of her enjoyment.
Flora Borsi is an artist from Hungary. And she has become one of the leading self-portrait photographers in the world with a strong fine art style.
Her shots are stylised and deliberate. And she includes elements of surrealism. Her work leans more towards science-fiction than fantasy. She often has an androgynous look as a model, which reminds you of sci-fi utopias from old films.
Some of her photos have the composition of classic studio self-portraiture. But she adds elements of surrealism to make them unique. The elements are often shapes and artifacts from the natural world.
12. Chantal Conventini | @paeulini
Chantal Conventini is one of the most renowned self-portrait photographers working right now. She has an artistic style that embraces and explores the human form. Her work is full of texture as she uses a variety of film cameras.
Her work is intimate and exposing. She reveals herself literally and emotionally. You feel like she is sharing her pride and her self-consciousness. The composition and use of light give a feeling of being invited into a personal space.
Her self-portraits have a fine art sentimentality. But they’re warm and touching.
13. Kyle Thompson | @kylejthompson
Kyle Thompson is a self-portrait photographer with a strong cinematic style of photography. Every shot has a sense of grandeur. You get the feeling something is about to happen. Or perhaps has just happened.
There’s a darkness to his work—the horror genre prominently influences Kyle. And you get a feeling of eeriness and unease from his self-portraiture. There’s a story to each photo. But you’re not sure if you want to know how it ends.
The imagery is powerful, and his composition is excellent. He knows how to entice and tell stories with his images.
Michael Bailey-Gates is one of the most in-demand self-portrait photographers at the moment. He recently had a series of self-portraits published in Cultured magazine.
His style of photography is strong and self-aware. It’s loud with a touch of kitsch. He plays with themes such as gender and sexuality. He’s celebrating self-identity. And he’s challenging cultural norms.
His portraits and self-portraits often have a traditional composition. He constructs some of his shots like a classic fashion photographer. But his subjects confront and challenge your expectations.
David Uzochukwu is a fine art self-portrait photographer. His work explores humanity in the natural world. His style involves human bodies in natural environments.
The shots are stunning and bold. But there’s often a sense of discomfort. There are humans in natural landscapes. But neither seem to be quite as they should. David adds elements of surrealism to entice and challenge the viewer.
Whether he’s posing or using another model, there is always a feeling of vulnerability. The poses he uses are often those we associate with fear or discomfort.
16. Anya Anti | @anya_anti_art
Anya Anti is a fine art conceptual photographer. She award-winning, and her style are unique and powerful.
Anya blends fine art and fantasy. She uses her self-portrait photography to tell a story. She takes you away to another world, a world of her imagination. Her color palette is cold with pale blues and whites. But the sense of magic brings warmth.
She uses her art to raise awareness for issues like climate change. And the elements, particularly water, feature prominently in her work. She is a pioneer of techniques like cinemagraphs.
Anya Anti is one of our amazing collaborators. The Creative Portrait Concepts was a passion project for all of us. And it gives you all the pro info you need to make your own incredible storytelling portraits and self-portraits.
17. Iness Rychlik | @inessrychlik
Iness Rychlik is both photographer and subject, telling a story of skin and female anatomy.
The Victorian era has a strong influence on her work as much uses Victorian science and fashion. Human skin plays a substantial role as well. It’s often the canvas on which she tells her story.
Her self-portrait photography often shows how the skin is marked and scarred. Be that by tight clothing or at the hands of another. Many of her portraits obscure the face. This gives a feeling of vulnerability. And it draws our attention elsewhere.
18. Ben Robins | @benrobins1
Ben Robins is one of the UK’s most influential self-portrait photographers at the moment. He uses photo-manipulation techniques to create self-portraits that are compelling and funny.
He uses photo manipulation and self-portraits with a thick slice of surrealism. His work makes comments about modern life and the human condition. They’re not only technically very clever, but the photos are also humorous and witty.
His technical editing is excellent. But he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
19. Fabiola | @glindaizabel
Fabiola has a unique style of self-portrait photography. She creates a world of pure imagination. It’s not limited by the laws of reality under which we are beholden.
Her color palette is bold and bright. And the distinct colors help the magical elements of her self-portraits come to life. She awakens the child within us by invoking the stories we loved when we were young.
She brings fantasy and self-portraits together seamlessly. She takes you on the journey with her. She’s created the world. And she’s also the tour guide on the adventure.
20. Omar Victor Diop | @omar_viktor
Omar Victor Diop is a rising star in the world of self-portrait photographers. His self-portraits are punchy. And there’s a bit of humour in there too.
His style of self-portrait photography mimics photography and painted portraits from the 19th century. He knowingly hints at Orientalism in his modern photography. His work explores race, culture, and critical history.
The images are striking. And Omar has an excellent sense of color. His pictures combine classical portraiture with modern wit and clarity.
Juliette Jourdain has a classic style of portrait and self-portrait photography. The composition is closely framed around her face. And the location is the photography studio. But there’s nothing outdated about her imagery.
Every self-portrait is bold. She grabs your attention and holds it. She works in both color and black and white.
She creates a wide variety of concepts that bring her self-portrait photography to life. Each set is unique. And she often introduces elements of fantasy. Or she can create images that look like old paintings.
Self-portraits are an excellent and creative form of photography. They are so much more than social media selfies. They can tell stories and things about people you never knew.
That was our list of the most influential and famous self-portrait photographers in 2021. There are some excellent self-portrait examples. We hope you now feel inspired to try out your own self-portrait ideas.