Self-portraits are immensely popular in various genres. Many painters, including Frida Kahlo and Rembrandt, reclaimed their identities through their self-portraits.
Anyone can take expressive and eye-catching self-portraits. You don’t need expensive camera equipment or a professional photo studio. Even if you live in a simple home filled with simple props, you can take great photos. Best of all, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve this.
Why Take Self-Portraits?
Self-portraiture comes with countless benefits. You use it to improve general photography skills like lighting. You can also use it to get a better idea of how your camera works. It’s a way to familiarise yourself with interesting photography techniques.
Self-portrait photography is very useful in portrait photography. It can help you understand what it’s like to be a model. As a result, you might find it easier to empathise with your subjects. If nothing else, at least you’ll be able to find your best angles!
Many photographers have found confidence in this genre. Taking photos of yourself can help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. If you experiment with different poses, expressions, and angles, you’ll find it easier to look at yourself in pictures. (It’s like listening to your own voice. It’s awkward at first, but then it gets better. Eventually, you get so used to it that you start to see beauty in it.)
Start With a Story
A story can quickly help you build the foundation of your photoshoot. Without it, it can be difficult to come up with original ideas.
You can find inspiration almost anywhere. Start with the details. Quotes, song lyrics, or even keywords can lead you to interesting story ideas. Watch a film that resonates with you or join a photography group. Make sure to write all of your ideas down in one neat space.
Also, don’t procrastinate too much. When inspiration hits, try to act on it as quickly as possible.
Create Foregrounds Using Objects in Your Home
Foregrounds are a very easy way to take incredible self-portraits. They’re objects that are closest to your camera lens. The larger your aperture, the more blurred these objects will be. You have to partially cover your lens with an object. Make sure you don’t actually touch your lens to avoid damaging it.
You can use foregrounds to frame your face, get rid of distractions, or add a pop of colour to your shots. Here are a few things you can use:
- Glass cups
Anything that’s transparent or semi-transparent tends to work very well as a foreground. Look at various objects in your home. If something doesn’t look interesting, give it a shot anyway. The most unexpected things can make your self-portraits look outstanding!
Use Your Smartphone as a Guide
Some cameras, like the 60D, come with flip screens. These features are incredibly helpful, but they’re not very common.
An alternative to this is using your smartphone’s selfie mode. This won’t show you what your final results will look like, but it will give you an idea of how you look in different locations. It’s a great way to find beautiful light that looks good on your face. It’s also a very easy way to find your best angles!
Experiment With Different Types of Natural Light
The more lighting options you have, the more interesting your self-portraits will look.
Keep in mind that these aren’t the only lighting techniques out there. As you experiment with these, you’re likely to discover many tricks of your own.
If your light source is behind you, it will create backlight. There are two easy ways to use this type of light:
Slightly overexpose your photographs. This will create a soft glow around your face. You’ll need to use a higher number to compensate for the additional exposure.
Create a self-portrait silhouette. This is when you keep your exposure normal or slightly underexpose. Your facial features won’t be visible, but the general outline of your body will create an interesting silhouette. You can experiment with different props and poses for creative results.
This is light that hits only half of your face. If you’re shooting indoors, just stand with your side to a window. You don’t need to face your camera directly.
Side light is great for mysterious self-portraiture. It can add depth and emotion to simple expressions.
Direct Light With Shadows
Direct light will hit your face directly. This is easiest to do when the sun is shining brightly. (Make sure you never look at the sun directly, no matter how cool your photo idea is!)
Direct light is known to be rough and unflattering. However, it can have the opposite effect with the help of shadows. Leaves, hair, branches, etc., can all create beautiful shadows on your face. They can help you tell your story in an effortless and creative way.
Use Lamps and Torches When It’s Dark
When natural light isn’t enough, don’t be afraid of using simple artificial lights. The torch in your phone, your desk lamp, and even the light in your oven can all help you take outstanding self-portraits. A few other things you can use are string lights and sparklers.
You can use the same natural light techniques for this. Backlight, side light, and direct light are also very important in artificial lighting.
Merge Your Self-Portraits With Other Genres
You don’t always need to take photos of your face. You can merge self-portrait photography with other genres. For instance, if you like abstract photography, you can use long exposure techniques to take eerie self-portraits. If you like underwater photography, you can create double exposures using photos of yourself and photos of water.
Even if you don’t have the resources to pursue a genre like underwater photography, you can still use its elements in your work. Make a list of all the genres that you like and try to include them in your work somehow.
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