With the popularity of social networking and the profile picture, many people are taking self-portraits. Often these are taken with a cell phone camera held at arm’s length, a technique with limited creative potential and predictable results. If you’re ready to move beyond the cell phone snapshot, here are six tips to improve your self-portraits.
Get the Right Stuff
Put your cell phone away! A digital camera with a self timer is what you want. Add a tripod, tabletop size or larger, and you’re ready to go. With the camera on the tripod, you’ll use the self timer to give yourself time to get into the picture.
If you’re normally nervous about being photographed, it’s time to make friends with the camera. You’re in charge of this process, and no-one is going to see the results unless you decide to share them. If you don’t like the pictures you get, just erase them and try again.
The self-portrait is all about you, so be yourself. Let your personality come through. Try different facial expressions. Play out your emotions. Indulge in that quirky gesture all your friends recognize. Do something goofy! Nothing is out of bounds.
Include things in your picture that tell the viewer something about yourself. Are you a dog lover? Put your pooch in the picture, too. That wild hat you love to wear? Put it on! Maybe a shot of you with your sports equipment or hobby supplies would be fun.
Experiment with camera distance and angle. Move the camera closer to exclude a cluttered background, or further away to show the scene. A higher or lower camera placement will change the perspective in the shot. Wide angle lenses used at close distances or extreme angles will result in interesting image distortions.
Light It Up
Light is the very essence of photography. For great self-portraits, take pictures in all kinds of light. Every kind of light, from bright daylight to candlelight, lends a different quality to the resulting image. The direction the light comes from matters, too. For a spooky look, put a light source below and in front of you.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun! This is your chance to be daring and creative. Self-portraiture can be a wonderful form of expression. Enjoy yourself!