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Source: skylum.com

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.


Source: NOTAVANDAL/skylum.com

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):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGjFzJKSklM
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

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