Artistic self-portraits (not to be confused with selfies on the phone, although, of course, the line is quite thin) is one of the most personal and even intimate genres of photography. Good self-portraits can accurately reflect not only the appearance, but also the inner state of the photographer. They can also be dreamy, edgy, or eccentric. Quarantine is a great time to learn how to make beautiful and interesting self-portraits. It can even become your daily challenge (more on that below).
To make a good self-portrait, you need not only to be well versed in the camera and its settings, but also to have good taste, and often also a good understanding of your own inner world.
Don’t be afraid of someone else’s opinion
One of the most obvious tips, but also one of the hardest things to do. You need to get over the fear of censure (even if it still remains with you, somewhere in the far corner of your mind) and not be afraid of what others might think (and write in the comments on your social media post). You should not be afraid of your vulnerability in relation to your body, face, look, smile, etc. On the contrary, it should become your creative tool.
Imagine that you are not making a self-portrait for everyone, but first of all, for yourself. And any possible condemnation is just a fleeting event in your life, which both you and everyone else will forget in a couple of days.
Vivienne Meyer — self-portrait. Source: widewalls.ch
It also means that you will have to go beyond your own limits. Try nude portraits if you’ve never tried them before. Try taking a photo that shows your hands or lips, or one that doesn’t show your face. It is not necessary to put everything out in the public space, it can become your own method of knowing yourself and gaining confidence.
Finally, try something that feels uncomfortable to you. No amount of advice can teach you the art of being outside the usual and ordinary, so it is important to expand your boundaries in order to create a truly beautiful and creative portrait.
Try different expressions
Many people who take artistic self-portraits (not to mention simple selfies) use one or two facial expressions in each shot.
Of course, there are far more important things to worry about at first glance (especially if you are a beginner), such as providing the right lighting, etc. But it is this standard “mask” on the face that often kills all the liveliness of a good portrait.
Source: Richard Jaimes/skylum.com/
In order to demonstrate different facial expressions during shooting, you need to be able to recognize them. Check your shots every few minutes to make sure you capture a few different emotions/facial expressions.
Whenever your photos get too similar, it’s worth taking a break from shooting and coming back to it later.
Capture your imperfections
This is one of those self-portrait tips that very few photographers follow: find your flaws and use them as your strength.
Hate how your teeth look? Great — take a picture of them.
Are you starting to show signs of aging because you’ve been smiling and laughing a lot your whole life? Great — focus on wrinkles.
Beauty can be found in everything — in our weaknesses, imperfections, wrinkles, and so on. If your goal is to create a self-portrait that highlights who you really are, take advantage of your flaws!
Flaws demonstrate our vulnerability, but they can also act as a bridge between us and our audience. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves, and if they see a photographer who emphasizes their own imperfections, finding a special beauty in them, they feel an emotional connection. This can act as a kind of psychotherapy for the viewer.
No amount of advice can give you that level of confidence that will allow you to openly show what you hate about yourself, so start by capturing these imperfections in photographs that you do not plan to show to anyone. In the end, you may find that these photos are some of your best work!
Ask for help
Despite popular belief, a self-portrait does not have to be done completely on your own and all alone.
You will be surprised, but some of the best self-portraits are taken at a time when someone else is in the room with the photographer — a friend, family member, etc. This, in particular, allows you to get a more realistic facial expression.
Also, if you are doing a themed photo shoot, you may need help with props, hair or makeup. If you use such help, this does not mean that you are not shooting a self-portrait.
Also, you do not need to be afraid of advice from experts and professionals.
For example, you can use the advice of the guys from the Mango Street channel (in Russian translation):
Source: Photography in Russian
Hang your self portraits on the wall
Do you know who else hung their own “selfies” on the wall? Van Gogh.
Moreover, it does not have to be a permanent part of the interior. You can hang them up temporarily, giving the shots some extra context. In addition, by looking at them daily, you may be able to catch some additional details that elude a cursory glance.
Source: Wei Ding/unsplash.com
Any photographs, and of course, self-portraits, look much better in frames. Therefore, if you still decide to hang your work on the wall, you should choose a suitable frame that will match the atmosphere and mood of the photo it surrounds.
Give yourself a challenge
During self-isolation, photo and video challenges have gained great popularity. We haven’t come across the current self-portrait challenges yet, but you can always challenge yourself.
Try shooting one self-portrait in different techniques every day, experiment with angles and lighting, try different clothes, make-up if you want, etc.
Shooting self-portraits every day for a long time, you will be able to track how your technique changes, your skills improve and your sense of self improves.
Source: Isabel M. Mejia/domestika.org
In conditions of isolation, this can also be a great way of reflection, self-knowledge and “returning to yourself”. And the skills that you gain in the process can then be transferred to any other genres of photography. In addition, by understanding how light and camera settings work in relation to your own face and body, you will be able to better use them in photographing other people if you are or plan to take portraiture.
* the article was prepared based on the materials of photographytalk.com and onfoto.ru resources