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Self Portraits


Keywords: glamour, photography, portrait, commercial, studio, photographic, disciplines, guides, tips

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The Art of You

If you want to learn to take better portraits, then you need to learn about your subjects and what they're going through when staring down the lens. Sure, you can pick some of this up through reading, but to really solidify this info and know it, turn the camera on yourself for bit.


Thy Self

For years I've had a standard response to the question "Can I take your photo." It's essentially, "Nope, I'm a photographer so I like to stay on the side of the lens that I like better!"

And while I do still try my best to stay out of other people's photographs, I've recently come to appreciate the self portrait. Despite my personal belief that I don't have a "good side."

The thing of it is, making self portraits is a great exercise in creativity that offers us, as photographers, lots of learning opportunities. For me personally, the self portrait is a perfect laboratory for learning more about lighting, posing, composition, exposure, and just about any aspect of my photography that I'm wanting to strengthen.

Now I know what you're thinking, something probably along the line of "I hate the way I look in photographs." Well, so do I. Get over it. And sure that may be easier said than done, but that's why I'm writing this, to give you all some simple tips to make it more palatable, and some reasons why it will be worth it.

15 minutes is all it takes

First off, you can make a pretty slick self portrait in about fifteen minutes, but that's not necessarily what I'm talking about. What I'm saying here is that you should plan on spending more than this, because it's not going to be until about the 15 minute mark that you'll start getting into the groove.

What do I mean by that?


(6 Votes )
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Originally written on December 17, 2012

Last updated on August 25, 2016

User User


Frederic Hore (voyageurfred) on April 17, 2014

Good article and photos Josh. First time I heard of the string idea to establish precise focus distance, something I will have to try out. For remote triggering, Yongnuo (Chinese) makes a nice cheap, radio controlled device for both Nikon and Canon cameras. I bought mine for $15! They are available on eBay too. Frequently, I trip my camera, by placing the radio trigger on the floor, and hit the button with my toe! Hope this helps! Cheers, Frederic in Montréal

User on January 9, 2013

Enjoyed your article, Josh. Just did my passport renewal pic last week w/o getting my wife involved and it was kinda fun AND challenging. Having also seen the Van Gogh exhibit, I am reminded that self-portraiture is a long and storied tradition. On my iPad withiout access now, but will post up the pic; I took about 20 shots to find one I wanted to carry around for the next decade. :)

User on December 30, 2012

These are great. I've been thinking about searching close to home for new things to phtograph - what's closer to home than yourself?

User on December 29, 2012

Thanks Josh for some very useful ideas. I too am trying to get a better grasp on my Nikon CLS. It's a great system, but unfortunately, it takes a lot of trial & error until you finally get the hang of it. Still working on that, but your ideas will be a big help!

Richard Evon (camershy) on December 28, 2012

I like all of your ideas (minus the mad dash part; got my remote handy) and plan on diving into self-portrait photography this weekend. Very inspiring. Thanks for posting, Josh.

Thomas Leonard (Magnus66) on December 28, 2012

Thank you for posting this article, this will help as I start a new project for 2013.

Mel Moore (Melmoore) on December 23, 2012

Donor Ribbon awarded for his support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

I think I'll be using myself as a "light test dummy" and see what happens. Theis should be interesting.

C Smith (AdirondackUK) on December 21, 2012

Thanks for some great ideas. I see a new project for me in the New Year.

KENNETH JACKSON (f5titan) on December 18, 2012

I like these ideas. I've done self portraits from time-to-time but your article sparked some new ideas for me. I'll be posting some results soon!

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