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Self Portrait Photography Guide

It’s all very well taking photos of others but what about when you fancy taking one of yourself. åÊSurely it’s easy as you are the perfect subject!? åÊNo need to explain what you want from the shoot or the need to understand what the subject wants……..there are, however a few things that you should consider to get the best shot possible, after all, this is YOU that you’re åÊtrying to please!! Pre Shoot

  • Inspiration
  • Location
  • Mood

Before even starting out on a shoot look for inspiration. åÊThis can be found on the web, in magazines, on album covers etc etc. åÊRemember that you are trying to create an image of yourself not only for you but also for others, it needs to stand out and so take your time at this stage and have ideas ready. photography Choose a location that invokes a feeling, whether this be an urban feel, a tranquil one or a funny one, it is important that this fits in well with the ideas you have come up with whilst looking for inspiration. åÊObviously there are plenty of urban areas and these provide different lighting textures and colours which will all enhance the overall åÊfeeling of the portrait. Again, the mood of the shot not only depends on the expression on your face but also the surroundings you are in and the lighting at the time. åÊDark shots portray a feelings from mysterious through to scary and getting dark shots right is tricky. åÊPersonally I really like portraits where some of the subject is a silhouette and a lot can be achieved using shadows åÊand light in the right way. åÊPhotos in the ‘golden hours’ usually portray warmth and happiness and using this natural light can be a great technique if you haven’t got artificial lighting to set up the way you want. photography Setup First off, it is best to have the following to hand;

  • Tripod
  • Remote Release or self timer
  • Flash

A tripod, beanbag, or at the least a platform to place your camera on is essential. åÊWhen placing the camera make sure that the image about to be captured includes all of the elements that you wish to include in the photograph. Using a remote will enable you to get ready before taking the shot, it will also allow the lens to focus on you once you are in position (remember if you focus before you move into position the camera may not focus on the right area). åÊIf you don’t have a remote then you can use the self timer on the camera. åÊOne problem with this is focusing, I got round this by setting the F-Stop to 16 or more to get a greater depth of field and achieve focus all the way through the shot. photography The use of a flash is personal choice but in darker conditions will be essential (unless you are a human statue and can remain completely still with slower shutter speeds. åÊThe on board flash is very direct and so may wash out colour if used close up or cause shadow behind you. åÊIf åÊyou have an external flash then this can be angled to bounce the light off of ceilings or surfaces åÊto eliminate wash out or unsightly shadows (you will need to experiment with this). åÊI will usually tone down the flash to 3/4 to 1/2 power or use a diffuser to soften the light. photography Atmosphere

  • Perspective
  • Composition
  • Background
  • Framing
  • Depth of field (bokeh)

Rather than the normal straight on portrait which, in most cases, is less than impressive, try changing the perspective. åÊTaking photos from ground level or from above the subject (you) will add a bit of originality to the photograph. åÊDepth of field can be used to great effect, a friend of mine has taken a shot of a couple sitting against a wall. åÊShe took the shot from ground level and focused on the couples shoes and the rest of their bodies and faces were slightly out of focus, the effect was really great and gave an otherwise normal photo a ‘wow’ factor. photography Background (as mentioned before) is a very important element to a photo and should be considered carefully. åÊToo much colour or texture and you are in danger of losing yourself as the focal point, not enough and the photo could turn out boring (unless you are going for a minimalist feel!). åÊUsing a slow sync flash is a great technique where you can capture the subject (you) in focus but drag the shutter to blur the background and enhance the colours within the image. Framing the photo before the shot is also important. åÊMake sure that all of the elements that draw you to a location are captured in the frame and things that you don’t want to capture (street signs, other people etc) are not! åÊAlso think about the depth of field that you want to achieve and how the elements in the shot will be effected by this, lights in the background can be used to create a cool bokeh effect if a shallow depth of field is used, this is a great way to enhance a photo. photography The Subject (YOU!)

  • Emotion
  • Eye Contact
  • Clothes
  • Pose (candid?)

A photo of someone just sat there staring at the camera is not great. åÊTry to portray an emotion, whether this is joy, excitement sadness or mystery you will have to concentrate and have the expression/pose ready in your mind prior to the shoot. Match your clothes to you emotion, colourful summery clothes would portray joy, dark scruffy clothes could be associated with an urban feel and so on. åÊThe colour of your clothes will also invoke certain emotions in the person viewing the photo so take this into account as well. Do you want to be looking directly at the camera or not, this is entirely up to you as to whether you want to look like your posing of achieve a more candid shot. Processing

  • Effects
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Cropping
  • Black and white or colour

photography There are countless Photoshop plugin’s available to enhance your photos and loads that are specifically designed for portrait photos. åÊTry these out as a lot of them are free and some great ones can be found here. When you go through your photos think about why you like certain one’s and why you don’t like other, this way you can start to master your self portraits by using only those elements that appeal to you and eliminating the ones that don’t. Cropping is an area that you can also play with to great effect, you can cut out elements of the photo that may not work and also create a great original composition. Take every photo in colour but also experiment with black and white. åÊPicasa has a great tool called ‘Filtered Black and White’, this allows you not only to convert the image to black and white but also to change the shades within the photo using an eye dropper. åÊPhotoshop has a similar option within the ‘Image’/’Adjustments’ menu.

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barry chignellSelf Portrait Photography Guide

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