Self portraits are by definition a representation of an artist done by that artist by their chosen medium. I’ve found over the years that many photographers find it much easier to be the ones behind the lens; I’m not the exception. While what we do when we’re back there is oh so very important, we’re going to talk about why stepping out in front of it is really vital to our growth as photographers. But before we do, here is the gear that will help set you up when taking self portraits.
Standard on every digital camera I know of, generally up to a 2-10 sec delay. There are shutter release remote controls that you can buy specific to your make/model DSLR to make things even easier. The most common are wired, wireless and infrared remotes. Note that infrared tends to be a little crazy in strong sun or IR sources, so I’ve not personally had good luck with them. As a Canon girl (Mark III), I am currently using this one: Polaroid Shutter Release Timer Remote Control . It performs as well as the Canon brand (which I did have with the Mark II) and it’s much less expensive. Trust me when I tell you that having one of these is so much easier than trying to hit the shutter yourself and then trying to make it into the frame. In position. Without an arm flailing. And hair whipping. Or knocking something over. You will also inevitably move the camera position (also moving focus) and have to try multiple times for the exact same shot you could have gotten easily with the shutter remote. Not that I would know from personal experience or anything. ;)
Because generally placing your extremely heavy (gripped) camera on top of your everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bag with a friend’s purse underneath it for balance so that you can try and catch both you and your friends jumping in the air in front of the Capitol isn’t necessarily a great idea...especially if it didn’t even work. But it did for this one, lol.
When it comes to choosing a tripod, find one that fits your photography lifestyle (be it portable, lightweight, etc). My personal recommendation as far as brand would be Manfrotto and I would also suggest finding your local camera store and trying one out if possible.
As a prime girl, I really love my 35mm 1.4 (almost all of my self portraits were taken with it) but it is a wide angle lens, so distortion is a consideration (especially if you’re going to be shooting closeups). The 50mm is a really gorgeous portrait lens, and so is the 85mm. Keep in mind how much space you have, and whether you’re shooting with a full frame or on a crop sensor when choosing your lens.
Getting to Know You...I mean really, really.
Ok, so now let’s get down to the nitty gritty of why we take self portraits. I thought we should also include selfies as part of our discussion. Think fast - how many of you have posted selfies online but have taken very few, if no self portraits to speak of? More on that in a bit. So, if a self portrait is a representation of you as an artist, what is it that you want to convey...What is your intent and purpose or do you have one at all? Do you want to share a message with your viewers? For some, it may be something very personal. A lot of times I find that there’s a certain vulnerability when I look at self portraits. They draw me in and I want to know more about the person. Personally, I had a message when I shot this in my bathroom mirror. I’m still incredibly proud of this image, as it’s a statement about how far I’ve come after years of struggling with eating disorders and body image issues.
There are many types of self portraits. Use of light can be an incredible way create mood and or emotion in your image and push yourself creatively. Faceless self portraits can also be very telling about a person.
You may also notice I added ‘props’ to both images. Shooting film and knitting are both passions of mine, so I just added a little more of me into my self portrait. If a closeup self portrait scares you to death (as it does me) you could try something like I did here.
By focusing on my curl and not my entire face, I felt more comfortable and I found it to be very soft and flowy.
So, let’s talk about Oxford’s word of the year for 2013. The Selfie. Immediate. Instant visual gratification if you will. Who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing at that exact moment. I’ve heard many an argument on this subject. Some say they’ve become a new genre of art; others say they’re simply a style, a craft. I think they may be a bit of both. Sure, the selfie is a quick way for us to show off something, like cool new chucks.
But modern technology has stepped it up and allows us to take it to a whole new level. We can get creative with our selfies, even from the tub.
When you’re being a goofball and saying ‘Peace Out 38’ on your own birthday...
And I firmly believe they’ve given us a whole new way to get in the shot. Important ones at that! Like when you travel to Scotland for the birth of very special friends and their very special babies...
Friends a little closer to home. :)
And (I really cannot believe I’m sharing this, lol) when you’re literally just waking up with your husband on your 16th wedding anniversary!
But especially for getting in the shot with my boys, who no longer let me take the real camera shots. I’ll take iPhone shots for these faces. :)
So however you may view selfies, one thing is for sure - they are here to stay. There are even sites dedicated to the selfie...right down to the head tilt. I hope all of this has left you with a little introspection. But that’s not all...
Are you feeling inspired and motivated? Good! We’e got a challenge - with a prize, of course.
Bring a concept to life.
Become someone else.
Shoot yourself. No really, do it.
Show us your best self portrait (no selfies for this one, sorry!)
What happens if your portrait is chosen you ask?
You will be the recipient of a 3 month membership to The Photographer Within!
WEEK 12 CHALLENGE: This week your challenge is to get in front of the camera and create a beautiful self portrait! You can use all of Sarah's awesome tips to make something that is truly you! And because we know that self portraits are hard, there is an awesome prize with this one! A 3 month membership to my very favorite photography forum, The Photographer Within, will be awarded to the winner! So, get out there and get in front of your lens! Go like the Kensie M Photography Facebook Page and post your favorite from the week there! The winner will be chosen Monday, August 25th. We can’t wait to see what you are working on. And remember we love questions, so feel free to post them in the comments section!
Sarah Mazza is an outside of the lines thinker and creative momma, raising three not-so-littles into big ones and lucky enough to share it all with the man that she is still crazy mad in love with. He also happens to be her absolute polar opposite so it’s kind of like having her own roller coaster open twenty-four seven. Her family describes her as down-to-earth, sort of a crunchy granola, but definitely a hippy chick, a little bit snarky, and a lot of bit sarcastic. Her family is her life. She believes with all that she is that God gave her the ability to see things visually to first help heal her own heart, allowing her opportunities to connect with people and tell their stories through her craft. It’s the only thing she can see herself doing. Ever. Sarah is the owner of My Point of You Custom Photography, serving Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro area. You can see more of Sarah's beautiful work on her website here and be sure and go "like" her Facebook page here. She is also a Team Member at The Photographer Within.