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There’s never been a better time to practice self-portraits, considering many parts of the world are still at least partially shut down.
Self-portraits allow you to understand photography better. It helps you to see things from a new point of view: the model’s or client’s.
But, self-portraits are also difficult for the same reason. You’re not going to be accustomed to it and it may feel weird for a while.
Here are some quick tips to get you started on practicing your self-portraits.
Self-Portrait Gear Essentials
photo by Yana Tikhonova via iStock
You can’t take self-portraits if you don’t have self-portrait gear. Luckily, a lot of self-portrait gear is gear you can use in many other photography niches.
The first self-portrait gear essential is obviously a good camera. Look for a camera that features a self-timer and a screen that faces forward and add to that a versatile lens like a 35mm or a nifty fifty lens.
You’ll also need some other self-portrait gear, including a tripod (or tripod alternative), a remote control for your camera, and a reflector.
I personally use a tripod alternative for my self-portraits because the OctoPad does what a tripod does but better.
The OctoPad features a weighted bottom so you can put it absolutely anywhere without fear that it will slide around. This is just not a feature you’ll find with other mini-tripods.
I’ve been using mine for at least a year and it’s allowed me to be more creative than ever before because it never slips or tips over so I’m better able to play with angles in my self-portraits.
Plus, for under $30, the Octopad is priced similarly to other mini-tripods.
Of all this self-portrait gear, if you have to leave something out you can leave the reflector out, because you can always DIY your own.
Take a look at this video by Jessica Whitaker for more information on DIY reflectors.
Suggested Camera Settings
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Now that you have your self-portrait gear, you’ll need to understand the suggested camera settings for self-portraits.
Let’s start with aperture. You’ll probably want to shoot your self-portraits between f/2.8 and f/4. This will allow you to blur your background while keeping your face sharply in focus.
You’ll also want to keep your ISO as low as possible. Somewhere between 100-400 should do the trick.
Finally, if you’re working with a tripod or the Octopad, you can set your shutter speed to 1/15th of a second.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines for portrait camera settings. If you want more direction, check out our detailed tutorial on the best camera settings for portraits.
Find Your Focus With a Stand-In
Photo by Daniel Wirtz on Unsplash
I understand that you’re reading this article about self-portraits to, you know, take a self-portrait. But, allow me to cheat for one second.
If you do have a stand-in that you can work with, be it a family friend or even an older child, use them.
Using stand-ins while taking self-portraits will allow you to adjust your camera settings to your exact liking and will prevent you from running back and forth dozens of times.
Learning how to focus for self-portraits without a stand-in will simply take up more of your time and will be a pain, so even if you need to place a random object where you’ll be standing or sitting, it’ll do!
Use Your Camera’s Timer
Photo by Michael Soledad on Unsplash
I recommended a remote as part of your essential self-portrait gear so that you aren’t always relying on your camera’s self timer, however, if you don’t have a remote you can still take self-portraits the old fashioned way.
Photo by Jose Pablo Garcia on Unsplash
Your camera’s instruction manual will give you info about how to set an interval timer. When I’m taking self-portraits, I try to set my interval timer to take the first photo 10 seconds after I press the shutter. From there, I’ll have my camera take another photo a few times with a 2 second delay.
This is a simple, easy way to get multiple shots, and with the other tips and tricks outlined above, you should be better-equipped to take improved self-portraits!