November 22, 2011

Tips for Self-Portraits

On today's Tuesday tutorial edition, I want to offer some tips to taking better self-portraits.  These are things I have come to learn after almost a year of documenting my life and style through pictures.  When you are the force in front of - and behind - the camera, it allows for more creative control because you can set the shot up exactly how you want it.  But at other times, being your own photographer can feel limiting and intimidating.  To ensure that you get the most out of your photos, keep these tips in mind!

What You Will Need.
1.  Camera.  I use my Canon T1i Rebel, with the standard kit lens (18-55 mm) for self portraits.  However, a point and shoot works just as well.  
2.  Tri-pod.  No need to spend big bucks on it.
3.  Remote shutter release.  Only if you want to avoid breaking a sweat running back and forth setting timers
4.  Confidence.  Because taking pictures of yourself can be awkward.

Things to Consider.
1.  Background.  Two items make a photo; the subject and the background.  Look at both components as equal parts.  When it comes to personal style photos, your background is an extension of your outfit.  Therefore, it should complement what you are wearing, not compete with it.  

If you are in an earthy outfit, go outside and find an open field with warm sunlight.

If your outfit is a little more edgy, find some cool architecture or a wall with bold color.

Do pick up on similar or contrasting colors and textures.

Don't pose in front of noisy backgrounds. i.e., walls with lots of graffiti, or places with lots of people/cars in the background.  Noisy backgrounds detract from the subject and the eye doesn't know where to look.
Don't pose with your house in the background or in your dark bedroom.  It looks amateur.
When all else fails, do find a plain wall to stand in front of, and let the subject speak for itself.

2.  Lighting.  The best times of day to take pictures are in the morning or evening when the sun is either rising or setting.  At these hours, the sun is softest.  If you have to take pictures in the middle of the day, find shade to avoid harsh light and shadows on your face.  However, make sure the shade is not spotty, i.e. under a tree, which can cause spotty light and shadows to appear through leaves onto your subject.

3.  Natural light is amazing, and it is your friend.  Always shoot without a flash to obtain the most natural looking photographs.  Only use a flash whenever it is absolutely necessary.  You can always make post production adjustments.

This is the most difficult aspect of self-portrait taking.  I don't know how many times I have taken a batch of photographs to find that the pictures were blurry.  To ensure that your camera focuses, set up a tall prop where you will be standing and focus the camera on it.  Set the timer, and then quickly move the prop out of the way and stand directly where you placed it.  This is when a remote would come in handy, so you do not have to run back and forth setting up and taking down your prop.

Feel uninhibited in front of the camera and let your personality shine through your photos.  Move around, laugh out loud, smile, smolder.  The point is to convey natural emotion.  Sure, you might look crazy doing it, but no one ever called you normal.  I kid, I kid.  Besides, the best part about taking your own picture is that over time, you learn how to pose.  For instance, it can look funny to pose with arms straight at the side.  (At least in my case).  So, bend an elbow slightly, or put hands on the waist to break up the length.  Over time, you learn what looks good, what doesn't, what you like, what you don't, and you can take all that information and direct others when you are behind the lens.  And that's a beautiful thing.  

It's All in the Numbers.
Take tons of photographs.  Take 100.  Take 200.  Take 400.  The more photos you take, the more chances for capturing that perfect picture.  Because let's face it, we don't look flawless in every photo.  There are eye blinks, bad angles, funny expressions, out of place accessories, the list goes on.  Bottom line is, more photos means more options.  Period.

Make the photo interesting through composition.  Don't just stand there!  Zoom in.  Zoom out.  Try different angles.  Get up close to the camera.  Get on the ground.  Play with lines.  Crop the subject.  Some of these actions can be done in post editing, but when you try different things while shooting, you may be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  If not, press erase.

And most importantly, when it comes to taking a self-portrait, be you!    


Liesl said...

Such fantastic tips and so helpful, thank you for this! You look gorgeous in every shot, as always! I agree with you on focus being the hardest part and taking many pictures is always fun and key! Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Liesl :)

Gentri said...

LOVE this! Thank you!

Michelle's Style File said...

Fantastic tips- thank you!


Gawgus things... said...

Self portraits are definitely on the bottom of my 'like' list in blogging! These are great tips :) xxx

Goldenberry said...

Such a great post! Thanks for sharing all those helpfull tips.

You look gorgeous in every shots!

Neris / Fashion Fractions said...

i LOVE this post Katie :) So many great tips and of course you look gorgeous in every single photo :)


Fashion Fractions

Doux Rousse said...

Such a helpful post! Thinking of upgrading my blog by getting a remote camera for Christmas.

Doux Rousse

Maria said...

I don't know if I'll ever come round to doing self-portraits on the blog. I think I'm too shy. Not to mention that I have a distinct lack of style. But great tips nonetheless!

Maria xx

christin said...

Oh I so need to start doing photos. Yours are SO good, I had no idea you did them yourself. These tips are great!

Faith said...

you are so beautiful! i think you can make any background look amazing!

MerciBlahBlah said...

Excellent post with great tips - thanks for sharing!!


Collette Osuna said...

These are all awesome tips....thank you:)

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Shane Prather said...

This is PERFECT! Beautiful pictures too :)

Melissa said...

Thanks for the tips! I always feel so awkward!

House 54 said...

Love this post! Great tips and ones I'll be sure to use! :) You always look so gorgeous in your photos!

Sarah @ Pencil Skirts and Lattes said...

these tips are incredible, thanks so much for sharing!! I'm so fortunate to have someone take pics for me, but all of these tips are still SO helpful. GREAT POST!!!

Taylor Morgan said...

gorgeous photos! gorgeous you!! :)

Married...with a Pup said...

These are such great tips, thank you! I don't think I could ever possess the confidence to do this, but your photos are always gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

These are awesome tips, thanks so much for sharing!! xox

Leah said...

Great tips! Thanks, I will try these for my next shoot.

xo L.

Anonymous said...

I still can't believe you take your own pics, you are a pro! I need a control asap, and lots of practice too! great post!

Cess O. <3 The Outfit Diaries

Nikki said...

Great tips! I'm trying hard to think of nice walls in my area that I can pose in front of, but I cn't think of any! x

Lindsay said...

WOW!! Love this post!!! Seriously, you gave amazing tips!! Thank you so much!! :) :)

Brianna said...

thaaank youu! these are great tips! :)

Chic in Vancity said...

Such great tips! Love your pictures and your blog!! You are absolutely beautiful!!
Bella xo

Team Babb said...

This sincerely helped. I get so frustrated as to what to do when I do my pics. I haven't tried taking them myself. Josh takes them for me. I'm thinking I may be a little more natural or not feel so silly if I DID do them by myself.

Thank you for the tips!!


Shabana said...

This is great Katy, SO helpful. You're always an inspiration to me!

Whitney said...

What a great post! Thanks for all the tips, you look fantastic in your pictures :)


Lindsay R said...

thanks for the tips!


Amanda said...

These are such great tips! Thanks for sharing!!!

Rachael said...

Those are awesome tips Katie!
Gosh, I am so camera shy. I hate getting my picture taken! I'd have to get over that before I could follow through on all the other steps! But I do like the close up angle or your bracelet. That's a great way to take a photo, and still no really be 'in' it.

Braeden said...

Thank you for sharing such wonderful tips and tricks. This post is much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Thanx very helpful! I always need camera tips! Thank you!


jenny winstead said...

i hope you are getting paid to model. you are stunning!

Melinda said...

You are absolutely stunning!
Amazing pics and thanks for the tips :)

MyDearJenn said...

Great tips!!

Kelly said...

SO helpful!! I have to pin this page to keep it in mind when I get my wonderful new camera :) Thank you!!

Ana said...

You look gorgeous in every picture! These tips will be very helpful! I'm never happy with self-portraits :-(

CupcakesOMG! said...

okay, so like, did you see my post from two days ago?? i was JUST lamenting about how people get such amazing pictures for their blog! I've been making my bf take it, but i know I need a tripod and a remote to take that seriously what you do for the majority of your outfit posts??? i feel like that's so hard to do, but these tips are amazing! i can't wait to get a tripod to try these out myself!!


Mets GirLL said...

What a fantastic post! Thank you so much for the great tips!

silvergirl said...

thanks for the great tips!

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Laura Nelson said...

love your tips! :)

Emma Frances said...

So much good advice! I can't wait to put these to use! :] Your pictures are absolutely GORGEOUS!

Abby said...

Ahhhh! I SO needed this!!! Thank you! Xo

Taylor said...

You are so freaking gorgeous. I hate you. Not really! but these are fantastic and you look amazing!

Nicole said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

The Owl Girl

Melrose said...

great tips!

i live in Ottawa (a pretty big city) and I feel like (a) it's always freaking cold and (b) people are always giving me strange looks in public...

any advice?

Carrie said...

What a great post! Just found your it! These tips are great! You are very photogenic. I am not photogenic so I hope these tips help! hahaha
XO Carrie

leather and lollipops said...

Great advice!

.Candy. said...

i can totally relate to this as I, myself so self-portraits with my posts...the only thing missing, my confidence. I can never get the hang of posing in front of nobody with passers by around..they think I'm crazy, hence I only take photos of myself before leaving for work (at home) or when I'm absolutely sure a venue is deserted...Need to work on that, I know...Here's to wishing the new year will bring me new-found confidence! ;)

Fabulously Average said...

Found this through Pintrest and I absolutely love this post! I've been taking my own photos by myself for a little while now and still need to work on all the things above. Thanks!!

MyStyle: Dawn-2-Dark said...

Thank you! This post was very helpful! I am just now starting a blog and was feeling a little discouraged by my photographs but hopefully I'll improve! Thanks again for sharing these tips!

kellyelizabeth said...

fabulous tips, im still such a amateur with my camera.

p.s. just became a new follower! love you


Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photos! I have this linked to my blogging-photography project post too today, you are truly inspiring!

vogue + vino said...

Loveee this post and lovee your adorable blog! You're so stunning and sound like your very down to earth! Would love if you checked out our blog as well!
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God Bless!

Amber Martel said...

I have a couple of questions. I just recently bought the newer version of your camera and am trying to learn all about it! When you take pictures with the backgroung blurred(in AV mode) what is the "f" number? Also in the post pictures 1 and 6 do you have any fliters? If so what types, if not what mode are you in?
Thank you

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