photo by DGKN GRKN via iStock
I know that I’m still trying to spend as much time in my house as I possibly can right now and this has forced me to get a little creative with my photography skills.
After all, it is a skill you can lose if you aren’t constantly using it.
So, recently, after years of hating being in front of the camera, I started working on some self-portrait ideas.
I was naturally absolutely awful at it. The moment I got in front of the camera, I recognized that all of my photographic knowledge about how to take a self-portrait went out the window because I was so self-conscious as a model.
To help, I went in search of some self-portrait tips and found a good video by Skillshare. Skillshare worked with Hannah Argyle to create a list of three self-portrait tips that work for even the shyest of photographers.
I’m recapping them here.
Use a Self-Timer
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A lot of self-portrait tips focus on the kind of gear you’re going to need. But, a lot of us are really only taking self portraits to pass the time and may not want to spend any money on something we could absolutely hate.
So, instead of going out and purchasing a remote shutter that you may not use in your photography hobby right now, you can use the self-timer on your camera.
photo by MStudioImages via iStock
Another benefit of using a self-timer that Hannah pointed out, other than saving money, is that it gives you freedom. You don’t need to be worried about establishing a certain pose because you don’t actually know when the photo will be taken. So, you can move about as you normally would, which will actually bring some interesting movement into the photo.
Some cameras will also allow you to take multiple shots at a time at different intervals. Hannah recommends that you use this feature if your camera will let you. This way you can try all sorts of different poses before going back and deciding that you absolutely hate them.
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Choose Your Focus Point First
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If you’ve been messing around with self-portraits already, you may notice one problem theme. Sometimes, when you’re participating in self-portraiture, you may have issues with the focus.
This makes sense. When you aren’t behind the camera, it can be really difficult to tell if you’re at a good point for the focus.
So, Hannah’s second tip in her self-portrait tips video is to figure out where you want to physically be positioned before you take any photos so that you can manually set your focus point.
In the video, Hannah is shooting in front of an abandoned house. She established that she was going to be located on the porch before she started shooting so that she could manually focus the camera there beforehand.
photo by Grigorev_Vladimir via iStock
You can do the same thing no matter where you’re shooting. If you’re shooting in the desert, then you can use a saguaro cactus as your manual focus point. If you’re shooting in your yard, you can use a shed or shrubbery as your manual focus point.
If you really don’t have anything else around you to use to focus your camera, then you can place your camera bag where you want to be located in order to focus on it.
Another way to make sure that your self-portraits are always in focus is to choose a higher f-stop (i.e., f/5.6 rather than f/2.8) so that your depth of field is larger. When a large percentage of your frame is in focus, you as the subject will likely be in focus if you choose to stand or sit in the midground of the shot.
photo by dinachi via iStock
Out of all these self-portrait tips, the most important one is to experiment.
Going into the shoot, know that you are going to feel self-conscious. It is going to be awkward. You aren’t going to be comfortable. However, you aren’t doing this for comfort. You are trying self-portraiture to help you expand your creative eye. Nothing worth doing is easy.
So, once you kind of get over yourself and your unease, it is important to try as many poses as possible. In fact, it may be a good idea to read the other self-portrait tips that I’ve included in the learn more links in this article.
However, no matter how many self-portrait tips you read, you will need to experiment during your shoot, since each pose may look different depending upon the angle you choose for your photo.
Finally, if you have the time to do so, take as many shots as possible.