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Whether you’re looking for potential job opportunities on LinkedIn, or you’re simply looking to take a new Instagram photo, having a good self portrait is key in our society these days. But taking a selfie sounds a lot easier said than done. It’s not as simple as using the front-facing camera on your iPhones portrait mode, there is actually quite a bit of effort to get that perfect photo.
From gear to props, there are so many important things to know. But the most important thing you’ll need to know is how to position yourself in a way that is flattering and grabs the attention of the person viewing the photo.
First, Let’s Talk About The Gear You’ll Need
While any camera you have on you will work, having a high-quality camera will ensure that your portraits go beyond a simple selfie. If you’re shooting with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, be sure to throw your settings in manual (and learn those camera settings!) before you take your first self portrait.
Some good beginner cameras are the Canon Rebel T7 and the Nikon D3300. These DSLR cameras will help you learn the basics of shooting in manual, focusing with different lenses, and make a huge difference in quality.
Read More: Shooting In Manual: Step By Step
But you may not want to invest in a big camera to simply update your Instagram profiles. Luckily, our smartphones these days come equipped with some of the best cameras out there. If you plan on taking your self portrait on an iPhone or other smartphone, make sure to use the rear camera and self-timer option for the best quality.
Some other fun (and useful) add-ons are a handheld remote and a ring light. A handheld remote will make the biggest difference in the amount of time you spend taking your self-portrait. No more having to check the back of the camera or phone each time you take an image. Simply press the button on the remote and you can do multiple poses for your self-portrait without having to move the camera. A ring light will also make a big difference when you’re trying to get creative or just need a little more light in your self portrait.
Regardless of whether you’re using a DSLR camera or a smartphone, you’ll want to invest in a tripod to hold that camera steady. Otherwise, you’ll be constantly searching for books, sweaters, ledges, and pretty much anything else to prop your camera on. A tripod will make your life a lot easier when taking a self portrait.
Next Up, Pick Your Scene!
A self-portrait is only as powerful as the background you choose for it. When you’re trying to come up with an idea for your self portrait, ask yourself the kind of vibe you’re going for.
If you want to focus on travel then make sure your background is outside and preferably at a well-known location. If you’re wanting the focus to just be on you, then pick a neutral color for your backdrop that you’ll stand out against. Greenery is a great option for this as it makes the colors you wear pop more.
Looking for a more studio and clean set up? Grab a clean white sheet and drape it in front of a window, allowing yourself some space in between to face the window as well. This will give you a clean backdrop with incredible light for your self-portrait.
How To Pose For Your Self-Portrait
Most of us feel awkward in front of a camera, but when you hire a professional photographer it makes the biggest difference. They have training and years of work behind them and can see every detail before they click that button. But hiring a photographer isn’t always an option, so you’ll want to make sure you have some basic poses in mind for your self portrait.
There are three things to keep in mind when taking a self portrait: hands, eyes, and triangles. The placement of your hands can not only make or break a self portrait, but it can also make you feel more comfortable when taking the photos.
What do I do with my hands?
This is the most nerve-wracking thing about taking a self portrait. Once you have your whole set up ready, you step in front of the camera, you have no idea where to put your hands. Sometimes they’ll even tense up and end up looking alien-like. Whatever you do, don’t place your hands directly by your side. This will throw off your self portrait and make it look like a photo your friend took by accident.
If you’re looking for a more professional type self portrait, you can cross your arms or use a prop that is related to your industry. If you’re a photographer, hold a camera! If you’re a marketing expert, holding a tablet or laptop can make your self portrait stand out and give you the professional look you’re going for.
If you’re looking for more fun and unique self portrait ideas, use your hands to frame your face, body, or frame of the portrait. Using your hands themselves as a prop will make your self portrait pop and give a bit of drama and realness to your photos.
Focus on your eyes
The eyes are the window to the soul. Keep that quote in mind when you’re taking your self-portrait. The focal point of your photo should be your eye, as it’s the part of your face people are drawn to the most. It will also ensure that your photo is 100% in focus. If you’re focusing on your shoulder, the photo will turn out blurry and not have as big of an impact on being a self-portrait.
This being said, it highly depends on the look you’re going for with your self-portrait. Sometimes you can tell a full story with a blurry photo, as long as it flows correctly. Movement is key when trying out different poses, so don’t be afraid to move around when taking photos. Dance around in front of a coffee shop, run close to your camera, and act natural. A self-portrait is meant to represent you, and if you’re not the kind to sit around then don’t stand still.
Make triangles with your body
This may sound odd, but there is a bit of math to photography. Our brains are naturally drawn to shapes, and when you make them in your self-portrait people will identify with them more and it’ll make your image stand out. You can use your arms, legs and even your hips to make different triangles. Try placing your hand on your face in your self-portrait and see how you can make a triangle in the open space.
Use props and depth of field
When you’re thinking of introducing props to your self-portrait, make sure you find props that you connect with. Something that will not only make your self-portrait pop but also tell the story you’re trying to convey. Be sure that the props not only go with your story but that they complement one another as well. Balloons by a palm tree may not make sense, but fresh coconut and a good pair of sunglasses would fit that scene perfectly!
Instead of just using props, try using the everyday items around you to create a depth of field. A bit of separation from you and the camera makes a self-portrait unique and telling. Placing a curtain in front of your face as you look out a window is a great way to create that space. You can also use this trick outside and place leaves and other items in front of your face and body to create a unique self-portrait.
Taking a self-portrait should never be an exhausting thing. Once you have the proper gear and frame of mind, taking photos of yourself will be easier than ever! When you’re first starting to take your own photos, try to create a Self Portrait Shot List with a bunch of ideas that you want to create, this way you won’t be turned away at your first try at taking a self-portrait. Practice makes perfect!
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Photo Credits: Lauren Benson Photography