Monthly Blog Circle | Self Portraits

This month we are focusing on….ugh, the dreaded self portrait!  Most photographers spend their time behind the camera, not in front of it.  It’s really hard to get out of that mindset of controlling the environment and your subjects and looking through the viewfinder to make sure that everything is exactly how you want it.  To top it off, we don’t always like photos of ourselves either 🙂

Last November I was noticing a pattern in my images.  Great pictures of James at all of his activities or wonderful pictures of James and Brian together enjoying the things our family loves.  Not a single picture of me with my family.  As a photographer, I am always wanting to catch those great moments, but it’s so tough to get IN the pictures with my family so I sacrifice myself to ensure that I am able to document what I can for my family.  Then it hit me….is that what I want my family to remember?  That I am not in there with them?  I know that I was there, but memories are tied to photographs.  10, 20, 30 years down the road will they remember that I was there too?  When I am long gone, will James remember what I even looked like?  It was a scary realization for me so I was determined to get in the pictures and stop hiding behind my camera.

I bought a remote so I could trigger my camera from a distance.  The second it arrived, I set up my tripod and drug James out for this quick impromptu image of the two of us together:

Is the picture a masterpiece?  Oh, heck no!  I didn’t even do my hair that day 🙂  The important thing was that James finally had a picture of the two of us together and one that was not a quick snapshot on my iPhone.  After a shower and some makeup a day or so later, I convinced him to bear with me one more time and we captured this image together:
I absolutely adore this image and every time I look at it, a smile crosses my face 🙂  I can remember the 30 pictures or so it took to get this one decent image of us together.  I can remember that the first few images had James’ head cut off because he was so much taller than me.  I love the fact that you can actually see the difference in height because even though he towers over me, he will always be my baby.  I can remember the typically silly faces that James came up with and how I had to plead with him and threaten him if he didn’t stop because I just wanted one nice picture of us together 🙂  Yes, he’s a typical teenager and although this image is not technically perfect, it’s perfect to me!

I have taken the opportunity to get in the images a couple more times HERE and HERE and I am so glad I have these images of my family together.

One of the things I love the most about this blog circle is that the other women are holding me accountable to actually get out there and shoot so when the idea of self portraits came along, I knew that I needed to get back on task and start getting in front of the lens more.  Now is the perfect time to do this too as I can document this pregnancy and capture images of myself that push me far past my comfort zone!

This was an image that I created using studio lighting to document my 25th week of pregnancy.  I can not tell you how many images it took to come up with this one image!

This image was taken at the same time with my studio lighting, but with a different set up.  I love the versatility that you can achieve with studio lights!

Next, I wanted to really push myself to try something I would normally never do and I captured these images in our bedroom using natural light and my tripod.  I am really loving dramatic black and white images.  There is just a wonderful timeless feel to them!Then back to a third different studio lighting set up to create a new head shot for myself.  Long overdue!

I have really enjoyed this month of self portraits.  To come up with these six images, I took roughly 300 frames!  Yes, there is a ton of trial and error involved when it comes to self portraits 🙂  It’s definitely not as easy to come up with flattering images when you can’t see what you are doing, but I am sure that I will be doing more of these in the future!

If you are thinking of trying your hand at self portraits, just do it!  Here’s a few tips to help you along:

1.  Get a tripod to put your camera on.  You can use the self timer or purchase and inexpensive remote so you can get out from behind the camera and in your images!

2.  Find something to focus on.  For the first set of studio images, I had James stand in where I was going to be and set my focus and settings so when I jumped in the frame I would have a better chance of getting a good image.  If you don’t have someone to help you, place an object in your spot to focus on.  For the images on the bed, I put a water pitcher where I would be sitting and focused on that first.  For the headshot, I used a chair.

3.  Take a shower, do your hair, find an outfit you like or even put on makeup first.  Yes, it’s so much easier to like an image of yourself if you put a little time in your appearance first.  If you just crawled out of bed after an all-nighter you probably won’t like the image as much because you won’t look or feel your best 🙂

4.  Practice your poses ahead of time by using a mirror.  You will get an idea of what looks flattering and what doesn’t.

5.  Find good lighting!  Studio lighting was great for me to play with because I knew that I could control the light, but I also did images with natural light.  I found light streaming into my bedroom and sat right in the middle of the bed where it was falling and then I stood right in front of the window where I knew I would be well lit.  When you use lighting coming from the side, you get beautiful dramatic lighting that emphasizes shape and texture <3  Make sure to turn your face into the light when you can to capture your features and expression.

6.  If you are not comfortable with pictures of your full body or face, capture images of yourself in other ways like pictures of your hands performing a task or even your feet in a cute pair of shoes or in a certain location that has meaning to you.

7.  Set up your tripod and capture yourself doing an activity with your family like baking cookies, playing a game or even snuggling up on the couch watching a movie.

8.  Experiment, experiment, experiment!  Shoot in different locations and from different angles.  Play around.  Show off your personality.  You may feel like the image below, but know that your favorite image won’t come on the first click.  It takes some trial and error to come up with something you will love, but persistence pays off and you will certainly have wonderful images that you and your family will appreciate for years to come!

Follow along to other other ladies in our blog circle to see how they got out from behind the camera and got in the frame for their self portraits.  Next up is my sweet friend, Lara.  You can find her post on self portraits HERE!