Tips for taking self-portraits {ideas}

You know what I’m not a fan of? Selfies. AKA self-portraits taken by 12-year-old girls in the bathroom with their duck-face on. I just have never had the urge to take a picture of myself in a poorly lit room with the possibility of a toilet being in the background. So basically the whole self-portrait concept has been slightly tainted with this distasteful approach that is taking over the social-media world. But, when I got an Instagram account, I needed a profile picture to display, and I wanted to take it with my Ipod touch. This put me in quite the dilemma. I HAD to take a selfie. Bummer.

I thought about it and tried different angles and poses, but nothing came off as artistic or sincere. So I went about it a different way, and I came out with this photograph:

Not exactly the traditional “selfie” but there’s something about it that stuck. Here is a list of the steps I took to get a shot that I actually loved.

1. Make a mental list of your favorite features.

Not to be confused with “best” features. This can be hard, especially for those of us who are a little (or a lot) self-conscious. But it was a really interesting exercise, and it ended up working out for me. So really think about what you like about yourself. Note: it doesn’t necessarily have to be what others say they like about you. For me, it was my lips. Weird, I know. There is just something about them I personally like. I also was a having a good hair day, so I guess that helps 😛 This step is really important because you have to be positive! None of that “I hate my chin,” or “my nose is too big,” etc. Self-love is the best way to take a winning self-portrait. The next image is an edit I did in the app Snapseed.

2. Lighting is key.

Using flash with self portraits is often a no-no. Please don’t use it, especially not in the mirror of a department store restroom. Seriously. Natural light is almost always best, as I’m sure most of you already know. Turn your face toward the light, it will help keep your eyes from falling into shadow and looking like black holes. However, natural light isn’t always necessary, if you have some nice warm lights in your house or studio, you can make good use of them too. Just don’t let the light be so bright that your features are blown out.

Here’s another photo I took recently at a park near the Mississippi River (edited in the app PicTapGo). I was sitting on a fallen tree that was hanging out over the water (don’t worry, it was totally safe! I think…). Maybe it was because I was walking on the wild side, but I wanted to capture an image of myself at that moment. That leads me to next tip.

3. Get yourself in a good mood!

Try it! Take a photo of yourself on a day when it’s gloomy, you’re overloaded with work, and a headache is creeping up on you. Then take one when the sun is shining, you’re feeling relaxed, and you just won the lottery! WOO! I guarantee you will end up liking the photo of you in a great mood better than the one where you were feeling down.

What I really like about the last photo, is that I was carefree, and my hair was doing this funky thing that I was kind of into. Between getting my face in focus, keeping the hair out of my eyes, and just feeling good about the photo, about a dozen photos were taken before I got this one. (I made the following layout with this photo using this week’s new art in the shop.)

4. Have someone else shoot your portrait or use a tripod with a self-timer.

For Mom, Dad is her walking tripod. She sets the camera settings, works on the pose, composition, and lighting and has Dad shoot away. Here’s my recent favorite of hers, as it also tells a story of their recent sunny trip to Arizona. Good shot, Dad!

5. Be patient.

Taking a self-portrait is a journey. You will see new things in yourself and hopefully learn to appreciate your own unique beauty all the more. Experiment with different lighting, facial expressions, outfits, hairstyles, moods, everything! Don’t be too critical of yourself and have fun, because you most likely won’t like the photos if you are constantly finding all of the flaws. Now go out there and take that selfie! But please, no toilets! 😉

Happy shooting! Rachel

P.S. Want to see some stunning portraits? Look through our Soft and Beautiful pinboard on Pinterest for breathtaking beauty (many are professional shots or self portraits using a tripod/self-timer). Love!

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