From classic headshots to light-hearted Facebook snaps, we have 6 quick and easy self-portrait ideas to liven up your photography.
Self-portrait photos, or ‘selfies’, are huge on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sharing what you’re doing and where you’ve been with your friends and followers has become fun, easy and virtually instantaneous.
But self-portraits don’t have to be shaky instant shots taken with a smartphone. Since the earliest days of photography, self-portraits have been taken seriously as a way of expressing a photographer’s creativity, improving camera skills and practising techniques.
In fact, one of the first photos ever taken of a human, produced on a daguerreotype plate in 1839, was of early photographer Robert Cornelius’ own (rather grumpy-looking) face.
Most photography students are now regularly given self-portrait tasks and coursework, as it’s a brilliant way for them to hone their skills. It can seem a little intimidating to plan and take a shot of yourself, but our six simple, easy-to-set-up self portraits are a great way to get started.
You don’t need more kit than your DSLR, a kit lens and a tripod, but the latter is essential as you’ll need to compose your photos carefully in advance and have freedom to move about in front of the camera.
When it comes to taking a self-portrait from a distance, a wireless remote makes focusing and shooting a whole lot easier. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t got one, though – we’ve got all the info on how to take shots with a self-timer or intervalometer instead.
Ready to go to Selfie School? We’re going to look at how to set up a simple monochrome headshot which is perfect for a CV, some silly ideas for Facebook profiles that are a cut above the rest, and some more unconventional self portraits that play with props, weird angles and other creative ideas.
6 stellar self-portrait ideas you really have to try
01 Classic headshot
A simple, formal monochrome headshot is a really useful photo to have, and it makes the perfect addition to a CV, LinkedIn profile or a business website. Sit or stand in front of a plain wall with your camera on a tripod in front of you. Siân used a handheld Manfrotto LED light to illuminate one side of her face, but natural light from a window would work just as well.
02 Go wide
Pep up your Facebook profile with a fun, cartoony, wide-angle shot. You could use a kit lens for this, but if you can get your hands on a wide-angle lens the distortion will be much more pronounced. You can take the shot handheld as the camera needs to be fairly close to your face for the effect to work.
03 Shoot your reflection
Shots taken in a mirror are a great way for photographers to snap self-portraits. Plus, focusing and composition are simple when you can see what you’re shooting. Flip the final image horizontally in post-processing so that the camera logo reads the right way.
04 Add props
Raid the fancy dress box! The beauty of self-portraits is that you’re completely in charge, and you can be as creative as your imagination allows. Think about how you want to express your personality – perhaps you could embody a favourite film or hobby. Face paints, hats and comedy glasses are all fantastic for transforming how you look and adding an element of humour to an otherwise plain selfie.
05 Head to the great outdoors
Get brave and head outdoors to take a full-length natural photo in a park or garden. It can feel daunting to snap yourself in public, so take a friend for moral support. Don’t let them press the shutter button though – if they do, it’s no longer a self-portrait. Try different poses, and lean towards the camera and angle your body sideways for a natural, relaxed portrait.
06 No face needed
Who says a self-portrait has to include your head? Try shooting just one part of your body. This is a great technique if you’re uncomfortable standing in front of the lens instead of behind it. Hands are expressive, or you could take a close-up of one eye, or a shot of your feet in the environment.
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Classic Portrait Ideas: how to take pictures of people from all walks of life
Portrait composition: how to compose a portrait that is classic and timeless
Family photo ideas: make a striking family portrait from individual faces in profile
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