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When many people hear the term ‘self-portrait’ they immediately assume that you are talking about selfies and the millions of them that get posted on social media and the like every day.
While a selfie is a self-portrait of a sort, when we are talking about taking a good self-portrait, we mean that the photo has been planned and carefully thought about, rather than a spontaneous shot from the end of a selfie stick as you and your mates share a drink at the beach bar, for example.
In this article, we are going to highlight some of the best tips we know to help you create stunning self-portraits, and yes, some of them will use a selfie stick.
However, rather than some random image, the self-portraits you will be able to create will not only show off your photography skills but will also show you at your very best too.
Tips on How To Take Self Portraits
Tip #1: Be Creative
Photography is considered an art form, and one thing artists have in abundance is imagination, so use yours. Instead of simply standing against a wall and taking a picture of your face, think of all the locations that would add some life to the photographs.
Hold props, try wearing costumes, look out from unusual places, and take them in unusual locations too.
Some examples of the above could be holding a sword, or how about an unusual animal. Wear wacky clothes, or even something as simple as a hat.
How about taking a portrait of your reflection in a mirror, or looking from behind a luxury car? Locations are limitless but have you ever thought of a portrait of you underwater? There are literally millions of ideas you could come with if you put your imagination into gear.
Tip #2: Show Your Emotions
If you want your self-portraits to be boring, then simply have yourself smiling in all of them. We’re not saying, ‘never smile,’ but you want to mix up your facial expressions so that you convey a whole range of emotions.
You could try laughing out loud, looking pensive, scowling angrily, have a look of puzzlement or shock and horror displayed on your face. You could even get some eye drops and make it look as though you are shedding tears of sadness, or indeed, joy.
Tip #3: Use ‘Burst’ Mode
In conjunction with Tip #2, if your camera has a burst mode or continuous mode that lets you take multiple frames in quick succession you could try posing with a different facial expression for every shot.
This will let you see how you look when displaying multiple emotions, and various looks. You can then select the best ones to keep, and also take further portraits using those expressions.
Tip #4: Use Your Camera’s Settings to Experiment
If you have any kind of decent camera it is bound to have various settings that you can select to take account of weather conditions, light levels and the type of scene you are about to photograph.
When taking self-portraits, you should experiment with some of these settings to see which of them gives you the best possible image in terms of clarity or color, for example.
Tip #5: Don’t Just Take ‘Face-On’ Images
While it is true that a self-portrait normally means that you look directly ahead at the camera, there is no law which says that this always has to be the case.
Taking self-portraits from the side and turning your head or having the camera above or below your eye line can often create excellent self-portraits, and more importantly, they make them more interesting.
Tip #6: Let the Light Set the Mood
Unless you are going to set up in a photography studio to take self-portraits, you are going to have to rely on the light conditions around you. This may create a problem for some photographers, but for you, it should be seen as a huge opportunity.
The reason is that you will be able to take self-portraits in all sorts of light conditions so that any portfolio of them will show different atmospheres, moods, and effects.
On a hot and sunny day, you will have lots of light to create a bright vivid self-portrait with a beaming happy smile, whereas, on a cold, frosty morning, your self-portrait can display a sharper and cooler effect, which you might use along with your expressions to convey a darker mood.
The key is to see all light conditions as opportunities to take a self-portrait and experiment with them.
Tip #7: Keep Practicing
A short and simple tip and that is to practice self-portraits and take every opportunity you can to take one. By all means, take fun selfies with your friends, but keep practicing if you want to improve your self-portrait techniques and portfolio.
Brad is a seasoned photographer whose journey began in 2006 with a 3.1-megapixel digital camera. Over the years, he has specialized in various photography genres—from weddings and portraiture to product and studio photography. Based on the Sunshine Coast of QLD, Brad combines his love for education and photography, sharing his expertise on DSLRAD.com, a platform committed to capturing life’s treasured moments and empowering photography enthusiasts.