We all need new headshots, right? As a professional photographer, I am much more comfortable on the other side of the camera, so being in front of the lens is not easy. You have a few options when it comes to self portraits–pay to have them done, trade with another photographer, or take them yourself. I was desperate, and needed them done quickly, so I decided to bite the bullet and just try and shoot them myself. So, if you've never tried to take your own self portraits, or you've tried to do them but wanted to find a better way to approach them–I've listed a few tips on how to achieve creative, in focus, and eye catching self portraits.
1. Pick your location
Yes! Your background does matter! You want to pick something visually interesting, but not distracting from the subject. It's also a good idea to have more than one location in mind, so that you have a variety in your final gallery. You also want to think about shooting indoors versus outdoors, and where your light source is coming from.
Look at this photography session the same way you would for a real client. What styling advice would you give them? Remember to stay true to yourself, so that your authentic self shines through since these will most likely be used for all of your social media profile pictures and website collateral. Think about what you want these images to portray. What mood are you going for? Professional? Fun? Glam? As professional photographers, we know that styling can make or break a session. My advice is to choose neutral colors and fabrics that have some texture to them for visual interest. Wear something that isn't too trendy so that you can you these images for quite some time.
3. be patient
Full transparency–it took me FOREVER to get my setup the right way, and to get my camera app working as the remote. I was getting pretty frustrated and almost gave up! But I'm glad I didn't, because once it started working, everything after that was quick and easy.
4. setup your camera
The easiest way to keep your camera steady and safe would be to use a tripod, but a flat surface would also work. The benefit to using a tripod is that you can raise it up and down, and we all know how important angles are. My suggestion is to position your camera slightly higher than eye level, and then slightly angle it down for the most flattering angle.
I suggest using a wider lens. You don't want to go to wide and end up looking distorted, but a 35mm-50mm will give you more to work with in terms of cropping choices later on.
5. use a smartphone app, or a remote
I am a Canon user, so I use the Canon Camera Connect App. The app allows me to use my smartphone as a remote, so that I can control the shutter right from my phone! The best thing about this app is that it gives live view imaging of the camera via Wi-fi, so I can actually see exactly how I look, and I can also adjust the settings right from my phone if needed.
I can also select my focus on the screen and see the composition as I’m shooting. Which is super important if I would rather focus on an object, rather than my face.
You’re probably wondering how does I hide the phone when I have to tap the button to take the photo? Good question! Many creative ways! I either hide it in a pocket, hide it under a prop, or just crop it out. If you really want to have both hands in the shot, you can also set a timer on the Canon Camera Connect screen, which enables you to set the timer and get your pose right before the shutter clicks! Super helpful.
6. Get creative!
Everyone needs one or two posed, smiling at the camera photos, but those get real boring, real quick! Have some fun, and get creative in front of that lens! I'm sure my neighbors that I was crazy flipping my hair around and smelling flowers off my Magnolia tree–but hey–it was worth the shot!
Here are a couple of ideas to think outside of the box:
• Lower your shutter speed, shake your head, and get some fun, blurry photos
• Shoot through a prism or a fractal filter to create layered lighting or rainbow effects.
• Use your hands. Whether it is holding a hat, tossing your hair, holding a flower, putting them out towards the camera, or just holding them near your face–they will make your image more visually appealing. Take a look through a magazine–you will start to notice how many models put their hands near their face.
• Use props. Your camera, flowers, a hat, an instrument, headphones, a mirror–anything you can think of that will make these photos more personalized to YOU!