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Day 217: Taking Your Own Portrait

Taking self-portraits (I don’t mean the fine art self-portraits I take, but the portraits of you taken by you) can be a really fun to create. Being able to take portraits of yourself can be a lot easier than hiring a photographer to capture photographs of you. That’s not to say you should never get a professional photographer, but it’s to say that when you don’t have a photographer you don’t need to fret.

If you’ve ever wanted a portrait of yourself for anything from your passport to sharing with Instagram, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to take your own portraits. While there’s something magical about being able to use another photographer to capture yourself in their own style, we cannot keep a photographer around 24/7. So when they’re not around, it’s up to you and the only thing you’ll need is a camera and if you don’t have a camera, a phone works too.

The first thing you need to remember when you’re taking your own portraits is that it might take a little bit of figuring it out before you capture one’s that you love. Experimenting is key because you won’t be able to look through the camera the entire time you’re taking the portraits. You have to be in front of it and because of this you might not be aware of whats happening in your frame. Give yourself some time to play around and figure out what work for you. Also be sure to keep shoots short, the longer they go the more frustrated you can become.

Next, remember to think about what’s in the background as well as the foreground. Cluttered areas can make it hard to concentrate on the main subject, yourself. However, you might also want to pay attention to things you can add in the background and foreground to make it more interesting. Depth can be a really interesting element and help draw attention to you in the frame.

When it comes to yourself, relax. If you force yourself into poses it will usually show and look unnatural. Take a deep breath and adjust yourself often, which will lead new poses instead of getting the same one over and over again. Moving and interacting with your environment will help the portrait look more natural and less like a self-portrait. And don’t be afraid to change it up with your facial expressions. If you find yourself getting to tense, throw in a cheesy grin or a couple goofy faces to help relax your face muscles.

Technically, if you don’t have a camera you can essentially use your phone in the same way. The quality might not be as great, but it can do in a pinch. When setting up your phone, remember to place it somewhere stable so that you don’t have to worry about it falling. Pay attention to the hight of what you’re setting it on, too high and you’ll look short, too low and you’ll look like a giant. Try to aim for a surface around your waist height. If you want to be able to see yourself while take the picture set up your phone and flip the screen to the front camera before setting it down, that way you’ll be able to reference it to make sure you’re in frame. The next most vital tip to shooting with a phone is be sure to use the timer button, it’s impossible otherwise.

Now if you do have a camera, it can seem a little bit more challenging that using a phone. However, you have a lot more freedom with your camera than you do your phone because of the quality and the beauty of using a real camera. If you don’t have a tripod I would highly suggest you invest in one, but if you can’t right now you can always set your camera on other surfaces. However, be extremely careful and make sure it’s stable before leaving it there.

With the camera, you have a few options. You can switch your lens to manual focus, focus on a spot you will be standing (place a chair or something there as your substitute while you’re focusing and then remove it when you step into frame) and then stand on that exact spot while shooting. This isn’t the best way to shoot self-portraits, but when using a manual focus only lens or when you don’t have a remote, you can definitely use it to get great portraits. The easier way, however, is auto focus.

This one it a bit trickier because you’ll need to have a wireless remote to click your cameras shutter while standing away from it. Having it on autofocus allows you the freedom to move around in your frame without going back and manually adjusting the focus as you go. Remotes do cost a little bit of money, but they are truly worth it because of the ease they create. Granted occasionally when you autofocus the camera may pick up on the background, but more often than not you are incredibly sharp and in focus.

All in all, the only thing you need to create a self-portrait is a camera of some sort and creativity. Use your mind to create stunning visuals with only a camera and yourself, it can be a truly freeing experience. And you’ll have a few pictures to share on Instagram that way you won’t have to rely on a photographer everyday of your life. Be as creative as you like or a simple as you please. This is your portrait session, use it as you see fit.

Until Next Time,
Lillian Merritt

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