Create a self-portrait that you (and everyone else) will adore.
Self-portraits have always been a passion of mine: both creating them and following artists that create them. Cindy Sherman and Tracy Moffat and Claude Cahun are the women I aspired to while studying at University. They led me to a lifelong journey of creating some deeply personal, along with some very kooky, self-portraits in the interest of art. I wish I could share some of those with you but for now they are stuck on a couple of CDRom that I can no longer access >>>> Print your photos!
I am writing this on Day 42 of the COVID-19 virus confinement period in France. For me, this self-portrait exercise became a little bit about self-care, and a little reminder that self-expression, and creation, is a rewarding act in itself.
It’s also to encourage anyone reading that any time, is a good as time to update your portraits of yourself, whether for professional Social Media accounts or just for your own personal legacy.
Self-care and self-reflection
Ask yourself: Who are you today? How would you like to be perceived and how would you best like to present yourself?
Me? I’m turning 45 in a few days. With 2 kids and a husband at home due to our lockdown requirements, and even though I am used to working from home ”le telètravail” with so many distractions, is slightly challenging.
I had thought about doing a self-portrait for a while, however when I finally found a spare moment to get my lighting equipment out, and a chance to consider how I might like to present myself in a self-portrait, I realised that it’d been more than 2 months since I’d even considered an outfit of the day, or the state of my hair, (or the state of my hairy legs >_< )
It’s been a long time since I painted myself blue to take my self portraits in an ode to Tretchikoff’s Blue Lady in “Chinese Girl” ! For this experience I decided to simply wear my favourite dress and create an update for my personal branding photos. I took a long bath, spent some time on my makeup, and had my darling husband curl my hair just how I like.
I felt pretty good, though my youngest wasn’t crazy about my red lips!
So the process and the transformation I witnessed in myself, really helped me to feel good enough to surrender to the lens. My take-out from this is that the process and preparation including a little pampering session as well is just as an important part of your portrait adventure as the outcome will be.
Yes, the potential of a little ego boost is too good not to mention. I assure you at least a few of your friends are going to be delighted to see a new photo of you. I posted a little BTS selfie from my phone to my Facebook profile. Hearing from friends from all across the world was a real mood lifter 🙂
So here are my Top Tips to create a great self-portrait.
- Look for the light.
You don’t want hard window light and you don’t want to sit in the shadows either. Indirect sunlight works well, eg. The window was to my right and the sun was to the right of the window. Even better you can also use material to diffuse the window light. For super flattering light you could also set up white sheets or towels or anything white to bounce light into any shadows, on the side of the face opposite to where the most light is hitting it. This will help to fill shadows that accentuate lines, bags, dark circles.
- Figure out your self timer situation and tripod.
Nearly all cameras and phones have self timers and you can also sometimes for an app for a remote control. Listen, the better the tripod the less stress but you know, make do with what you have.
- Focus and depth of field.
I used a box and polystyrene head to focus on but you can use anything as long as it lines up with where your eyes will be once you’ve positioned yourself in your – flattering – pose. Usually I love to shoot with a wide depth of field, however even when it’s me shooting someone else I can miss focus so I would suggest going a little narrower from f3.5 upwards. It depends on your lens.
- Pose and expression.
Place a mirror behind the camera. Smile with your eyes, push your chin towards the camera to eliminate the double chin. Use your shoulders and curves. Strike a pose baby, don’t be shy 🙂 And if you don’t know what to do with your hands, grab a prop !
So that’s my less-than-comprehensive guide to self-portraits! Wanna get comprehensive with me 😉 Let’s chat further below.