photo by monkeybusinessimages via iStock
Self-portraits are one of the most intimate types of photography. Good self-portraits can be an accurate reflection of yourself, but self-portraits can also be dreamy, raw, and whimsical.
In order to create these types of self-portraits, you need self-portrait tips from the greats.
Learning how to take beautiful self-portraits is an adventure not only in mastery of your equipment, but mastery of the art as a whole.
Don’t Fear the Opinions of Others
photo by S_Chum via iStock
One of the most obvious self-portrait tips are also one of the most incredibly difficult tips to follow.
You can’t be afraid. You can’t fear what others think. This means that you need to throw out all of your insecurities about your body, your face, and your smile, and throw out your creative insecurities as well.
Who cares if your self-portraits aren’t for everyone? They should be for yourself!
photo by Ralf Geithe via iStock
This also means that you should be okay crossing boundaries. Try nude self-portraits if you never have before. Then try creating a self-portrait that features your hands or lips or one that otherwise obscures your face.
Try something that makes you uncomfortable. No self-portrait tips can teach you the art of being outside of your realm of comfort, so it’s important to stretch your boundaries to come up with a portrait that is beautiful and creative at the same time.
Vary Your Expressions
photo by Ozge Emir via iStock
When I was learning how to take self-portraits I didn’t even realize I was using the same two or three expressions in every single shot.
To be fair, I had more important things to worry about, like ensuring I had my lighting correct because I was a brand new photographer. But I definitely wouldn’t put any of these self-portraits anywhere where someone could see them now.
photo by SIphotography via iStock
In order to vary your expressions during a self-portrait shoot, you need to be cognizant of your facial expressions. Check your shots every few minutes with the goal of ensuring you are giving the camera a few different looks.
Whenever your expressions are beginning to look too similar, this may be a good time to take a break from the shoot and come back to it at a later date.
Capture Your Imperfections
photo by selimaksan via iStock
This is one of those self-portrait tips not many people follow: find your imperfections and exploit them.
Hate the way your teeth look? Great; capture them.
Beginning to show signs of aging, because you’ve lived a lot of very happy life? Fine; take a picture of those wrinkles.
There is beauty in everything - our foibles and imperfections and wrinkles and so forth.
photo by SensorSpot via iStock
If your goal is to create a self-portrait that highlights who you are, embrace those imperfections!
Imperfections showcase our insecurities, but they also connect us to our audience. If everyone has something they hate about themselves, which they do, and no photographers are highlighting this, then a whole subsection of viewers are being left out of the art.
photo by Delmaine Donson via iStock
Capture your imperfections to capture this marginalized audience.
No self-portrait tips can give you the confidence you need to showcase whatever it is you hate about yourself, though, so start by focusing on your imperfections in work you never plan to show to anyone else.
Eventually you are going to realize this could be your best work!
Ask For Assisstance
photo by Peter_Virag via iStock
Despite popular opinions, self-portraits don't need to be done completely by yourself.
In fact, I get my best self-portraits when I put a friend or loved one in the room with me. They help me to bring out realistic expressions.
Plus, if you’re doing a themed photo shoot, you may need help with the props, hair or makeup. If you accept this help, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a self-portrait.
You should also never be afraid to seek out help for your self-portraits from the experts.
Mango Street has this video on self-portrait tips that is extremely helpful.
Put Your Self Portraits on the Wall
Photo by Wei Ding on Unsplash
Want to know who else hung his self-portraits on his wall? Van Gogh.
It isn’t a sign of vanity, but rather a sign that you are brave enough to showcase something you put a lot of effort into.
An ideal substrate to showcase your self-portraits is canvas.
I purchase all of my canvases through CanvasHQ.
Not only does CanvasHQ frequently have specials on their canvases, but they put as much effort into their canvases as you do with your photography. See just how their canvases stand up to the competition in my video review of the best canvas printing company of 2020:
There’s no reason to put hours of work into your self-portraits, just to turn around and slap it on a bad canvas from Walmart that will undoubtedly fall apart and fade in a year’s time.
CanvasHQ doesn’t use glue, which can warp canvases over the decades, and they use the highest quality ink to ensure your self-portrait stays as beautiful as the day you took it.
Plus, they feature free shipping and an accurate estimated wait time for your canvas on their website.
What’s not to love?