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You might be someone who avoids self-portraiture for fear of seeming arrogant, pretentious, or vain. While there are many understandable arguments against it, there are just as many valid reasons that self-portraiture is a cathartic, motivating, and mind-opening genre of photography. Taking photos of yourself is an effective way to organically release emotions, to learn more about yourself as an artist, and to challenge your ability to work independently. In short, it’s more than just a photo of the artist behind the camera.

Photo by William Randles

Many artists, when taking photos of themselves, tend to experiment in the safety of their homes. Indoor shoots are ideal for strengthening your ability to work with minimal resources. If you’re a shy individual, then shooting in a spacious room with no risk of being spotted by other people is comforting. Beginners are encouraged to take photos indoors, so if this is something you’re interested in then don’t stop yourself from trying. Indoor self-portraits are bound to teach you a plethora of valuable lessons.

Photo by Priscilla du Preez

Though buildings and homes can be wonderful locations for a shoot, the great outdoors has even more potential for photographers. This article will cover a few of the most important factors to consider during an outdoor self-portrait shoot. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to take compelling photos of yourself and improve as a photographer in general. The more you practice with your new skills, the closer you’ll get to becoming an incredible self-portrait photographer.

Light & Location

These are the most important factors to consider in any shooting environment. On sunny days, take photos in shaded areas. This will give you very flattering and well-lit results. Shooting directly under the midday sun will result in very bright portraits. Unless this is the look you’re going for, avoid harsh sunlight! If you’d like to experiment a little more, take photos under a tree with generous branches; this will result in interesting shadows that will decorate your face and enhance the uniqueness of your photo. If you’re an absolute beginner, I’d recommend shooting during golden hour. During the “magic hour,” light is soft and appealing, which is particularly ideal for portraits. If you’d like to find out when the golden hour is available in your area, check out this website.

Photo by Alfred Aloushy

On gloomy and overcast days, shoot in open locations to get as much access to light as possible. If possible, use a reflector (even a simple sheet of paper will do); this will effectively light up your face and get rid of unflattering shadows. Using artificial light like a torch or your phone screen could also help and create unexpected yet original results.

Equipment

When I started taking photos, I preferred to shoot indoors. There, my tripods were flat and reliable objects such as books, tables, and shelves. While they did provide me with many challenges, I learned a lot from them. However, I couldn’t balance my camera outdoors without threatening to damage it. To make the shooting process easier and less risky, invest in a sturdy tripod. If you want to get really creative, work with a flexible tripod. Fortunately, there are many affordable ones online. You can even rent equipment on Lumoid if you’d like to experiment with a variety of brands.

Self-Consciousness

Don’t beat yourself up if you feel very shy; every photographer has felt self-conscious at one point or another. Know that the more you practice, the less awkward you’ll feel. Don’t be afraid of getting weird results.

Photo by Sam Burriss

If you’re not comfortable with posing for the camera, you can still take great self-portraits! Try out these these subgenres of self-portraiture:

  • Spontaneous portraits: Set your time and dance around, laugh, flip your hair, etc. Do anything! The results will be unexpected, fun, and carefree.
  • Faceless portraits: These can be anything that features a part of you, from silhouettes to photos of your back in a gorgeous location.

This photo was taken in a small garden, a tranquil location visited by friends and cicadas only.

Even a simple bush in a garden can serve as a fantasy-themed location for your next shoot. All you have to do is enhance your imagination and remain open to all kinds of ideas. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting corners in your area, even if they’re not appreciated by others. Your unique creative vision will lead you to the most incredible opportunities. And remember: the most wonderful locations are the ones you see potential in.

Feature photo by Jose Alfredo.

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