03 March 2012

self-portrait tips | a guest post by olivia

We've all seen them - the classic photographer + camera + mirror shots.  This, in my opinion, is where we, as photographers, fail the most.  I have so many of these shots on my computer, that I can't even look at them sometimes.  If we call ourselves photographers and are striving to capture beauty through our own unique perspective, shouldn't that include ourselves?  Our growing and changing deserves to be chronicled as much as our family or friends!  I'm here to give you some tips on self-portraits, one of the most challenging and controversial subjects out there.

be creative
I'm going to go with the most obvious one here to start with.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Please!  Try something new!  Don't be afraid to look like a freak ... let people stare!  Do something that is totally YOU!

your tripod & remote are your best friends
My remote is one of my most treasured pieces of gear.  I got it for around $10, and though I can't find the specific link, there are a lot out there to choose from.  Use your camera manual (or Google) to figure out how to set it up with your camera.  Oh, and make sure the remote works with your body before you buy one!  On my Nikon, I can set it for a two second delay after I push the button.  Very handy for getting ready instead of having a photo with a remote in it.

A tripod is also necessary.  You probably know this, so I won't go on. :)

throw away the humble
I believe in humility, I really do.  However, I think that in the area of self-portraits, there is very little room for it.  It's one thing to constantly take photos of yourself and post them on your blog or put them on Facebook.  But, it's also important that you capture yourself like you capture other clients or family members.  Think of it like this:  If you take photos so that you can remember the good moments and people you love, why should you forget yourself?  It's important to have photos of yourself, too!

please, oh please, put the camera down!
While holding-the-camera selfies can look good and oftentimes be appropriate, sometimes, you need to put the camera down.  Anywhere - a table, chair, etc.  If you don't have a remote, use the timer button on your camera and get into position quickly!  Many times, photos of people with the camera above their head and arms stretched out result in odd looking faces and long, skinny arms.  Not a good look.  Like I said before, try something new!

take lots of shots
This is your one chance to be the model instead of the photographer!  (Well, you kind of get to be both.)  Do what you're always telling your siblings or friends or clients to do!  Move, pose, smile, and OK, be dramatic.  Use scenes you normally wouldn't use.  If the only thing you have available is your mirror, then try to use it creatively with reflections or something else.  Use that photography talent and treat yourself like you would treat your subjects!

If you need some inspiration, Flickr is always an excellent source.  I follow many people who take self-portraits every day, and I get loads of inspiration from them.  Other than that, your style of self-portraits is your own.  Each of the photos above are all different from each other, and could easily be improved.  (And if you didn't notice, I very much like black and white.)

So, that's it!  Get out there and take some creative self-portraits!
I'm Olivia. I blog over at Rise and Fly. I like to call myself a hunter of beauty. A photographer, writer, reader, artist, and Christian; that's me. I love early mornings, summer days, meadows during golden hour, sleepovers with great friends, and late nights with my sisters. Jesus is my everything, and every day, I try to live my life for Him. I have ten siblings, four of whom were born in Ethiopia, a place that has captured my heart. My dream is to travel to beautiful and not-so-beautiful places and take pictures of the people who live there. Beware of sarcasm and posts about just plain life.


  1. I'm the worst at self portraits--I don't have a tripod or remote so I balance my camera on our table and set the self timer. I need to put some of these ideas into practice!

  2. I love your self-portraits, Olivia - especially that last one! Great post :)

  3. Self-portraits are such fun. I do take camera in mirror and long arm shots, I try my hardest to have fun with my tripod and self-timer. I enjoy experimenting with different poses and learning what works before telling other people to pose in certain ways. Great post, Olivia!

  4. I really liked this post! I am definitely going to try some of these techniques! :)

  5. That last picture is gorgeous! And I really need a camera remote right about now. :)