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Getting Started in Self Portraiture: Guest Post by Elena - Ramblings and Photos

September 09, 2011
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Getting Started in Self Portraiture: Guest Post by Elena
Hey, guys! My name is Elena and just like Ashley, I am a photography addict. When Ashley emailed me about guest posting, I was in the middle of some craziness but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I said yes!

MedusaSo some of you might know me as the girl who does self-portrait tutorials and Selfie Saturdays, others might not have even heard about my blog, Selfie Magic. But basically in short, I am huge on self-portraiture. I’ve been doing self-portraits for as long as I’ve been doing photography, but I REALLY got into the creative side of things about 3 years ago and never looked back. For some of you, self-portraiture might be scary, intimidating, seemingly vain, pointless but for me it’s a way to express myself while recording my life for future generation ( Hey, my life is worth recording!).

Today I will write about the basics of getting started in self-portraiture. I am sure some of you are intrigued by the idea, but are too afraid to try it out and I am hoping that seeing Ashley’s progress in the field as well as this post will give you another nudge to give it a shot (pun intended). Here are a few simple steps on how to get started!

Step 1

Realize that self-portraiture is NOT about vanity, it is NOT embarrassing. It is a form of art, just like any other. And in my experience, it teaches far more about photography than shooting random objects does. It is challenging, but that’s exactly why every self-respecting photographer should get decent at working the camera from the front. Once you stop thinking of self-portraiture as something frivolous, you’ll find yourself taking more and more photos.
Inner Beauty

Step 2: Get the right equipment

You’ll need a remote and a tripod. Mostly, you need them to make your life easier. I’ve taken self portraits for years (back before I was heavily into it) without either of those two items, but buying a remote and a tripod will really take you to the next level of self-portraiture and save you a LOT of frustration. 
They make self-portraiture so easy that you’ll be surprised why you have avoided it for so long. It will also help to start off with a remote and a tripod, because otherwise you might find yourself so frustrated trying to get the focus right and run back and forth to the beep of the 10 second in-camera timer that after a few attempts, you’ll decide selfies are not for you. You can buy the remote and the tripod I use here and here.

Step 3: Master the Focus

Focus is probably the most difficult aspect of self-portraiture in the beginning. That’s where the remote helps A LOT! But if you don’t have your remote just yet, use a “placeholder” that you can focus on. Choose one that’s approximately your height and is light enough (a chair, a tripod, a tall plant) to move out of the way within 10 seconds. More detailed tips on focusing with or without a remote are here.

Step 4: Find the right pose!

The scariest aspect of self-portraits is the fear that you will look bad on the photo. And it is understandable, since you can’t really see yourself in the viewfinder, you have no idea what you’ll look like. So it’s useful to remember a few key rules about poses and angles in general. You can read more about it here. But here’s an example of some of the more flattering full body poses for women:

Step 5: Involve your family and friends

One of the more useful and rewarding aspects of having the skill of self-portraiture is being able to take your own group photos. Once you’ve practiced some selfies, you will be happy to find out that you no longer have to be missing from your Christmas cards and friends’ group pictures. It will become so easy that you will do all your own shoots: anniversaries, maternity, family portraits, Holiday cards, girls’ nights out. And the best part is you can do it any time you want and any way you want: no scheduling conflicts, no style clashes, no waiting for photos.

Easter Hapiness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step 6: The final step in self-portraiture – GET CREATIVE!

You will be amazed at how much more creative you can get when you’re the photographer AND the model. You can bring YOUR vision to life without any hindrances. There are so many creative ways to explore self-portraiture and here’re a few of them: CLONES, JUMPS, Magic Tricks, Me then- Me Now photos (where you recreate your old photographs), collaborations and much much more.

walk 102To conclude this post, I’d like to say this: I often get “but you’re so pretty, it’s easy for you to photograph yourself” line from people and I would just like to say that it has nothing to do with how attractive you THINK you are.

Photographers don’t turn down people who they consider unattractive. We don’t ONLY photograph “traditionally” beautiful subjects. Most of us, as photographers, find beauty everywhere, so why shouldn’t you start with yourself? Don’t make it about your looks, make it about the art of capturing a moment or about the message or about the creativity of the shot.

It doesn’t have to be an “in your face body shot”… It can be faceless, it can be just one body part, you can turn away from the camera. Try to capture a feeling, not a person and the confidence will eventually come, I promise.

I’m sure you have seen the wonderful progress that Ashley has made in self-portraiture and the mind-blowing selfies she now churns out regularly and I really hope that this will inspire you to try it out yourself following the simple steps above. If you’re still not sure and would like to learn more, feel free to go through my past tutorials on Selfie Magic and participate in weekly self-portrait link ups.
Thanks again Elena for sharing your secrets and inspiring us to turn the cameras on ourselves. It was Elena that started my recent obsession with self-portraits and I really do encourage you to go through her tutorials if you haven’t done so already. 

With that said, Elena’s post today concludes my “blogcation” guest post series. I’ll see you on Sunday for the Scavenger Hunt!

    Great stuff! Love the jump shots.

    seriously… love the art in photography. it’s true beauty! makes me want to get a wireless remote more! thanks for sharing!

    Elena is such a talented photographer and such a beautiful subject:-) I am always inspired by her pictures and one of these days when I’m not tied down by my kiddo as much I’d love to start exploring the self-portrait side of photography! Great post Elena!

    great post! :)

    Thanks for this post. I actually started a self-portrait project 5 weeks ago (once a week kind of thing) and just posted my first blog post about it. I miss being part of your photo challenges, Ashley. It’s been a crazy 3 months for our family. Look like I’m going to slowly get back to the swing of things, blogging wise.

    Elena is such an inspiration!

    You know, when you said Elena was posting, I was kinda thinking we’d see a maternity image – especially since she’s expecting… you know women are always forgeting to document themselves (especially at that beautiful stage of some of their lives).

    A beautiful post, a great challenge… perhaps I’ll “run” through the tutorials when things calm down!

    Great guest post Elena. Thanks so much for the tips and encouragement.

    Ashley- can’t wait to see you for Scavenger Hunt. Hope you have had a great blogcation. :)

    Nice post. I have never seen Selfie Magic before. She has some very creative shots.

    So neat!

    amazing post :) I’m going to share it on my Facebook page! xo

    Love this post! I have to say- less than 1 year ago- I would have never dreamed of being IN the shot. But participating in the Selfie Saturdays – by being nudged heavily by Courtney- has been LIFE CHANGING. My kids won’t ever say “where was mom- oh yeah- behind the camera”. Learning that it’s okay to take the pics & in this day of digital- if you don’t like them- there is ALWAYS the delete button!!! Thank you Elena!!

    Enjoyed reading the tips and information!


    As always, your work totally inspires me. I have to say the hardest part for me has been the time. I would love to do it (yes, I feel a little vain), but finding large enough chunks of time to work on it has been the challenge.

    I guess it is just my season of life, but hopefully one day. I did try one yesterday, but it was something I did very quickly for a guest post I am doing.

    Great post… I was thinking that selfportraiture would be helpful for group shots. I’m going to give it try. Don’t promise to post any but I might.

    Ashley, great posts all week. I’m inspired.

    wow! Im loving the creativity of this post!! This ‘out of the box’ aspect of editing it what got me into photographing in the first place! Having an idea, creating it, and sharing the result is so satisfying.

    Your blog is just amazing!!! Not sure I’m ready to step out from behind the lens yet, but this was certainly inspiring and has me thinking about it.

    I loved this post . How informative.

    FAbulous tips! I was just thinking I don’t have any pics with our new baby since we were in the hospital because I’m always the one behind camera. I’ll have to try this this week :)

    thank you for great tips, as I am really in to selfies, but I´m too scared :S Now, I can get on with it!

    Outstanding work! Elfie is very inspiring. I am in love with the photo of the prim girl with a book and the bad girl reflection in the mirror. Genius!

    Thanks for having her Ashley!

    I love what you said, it is not about vanity it is a form of art. I must climb out of my shell and start clicking. Because as a photography addict I am always left out of the pictures.

    Elena is so talented, and Ashley it has been so fun watching you shoot yours!

    This is SUCH a cool post! I absolutely adore all the pictures!!

    Truly Inspiring! I am always so ticked off that I am never in any photos because I am forever behind the camera. I’m asking Santa for a remote for Xmas!

    Thanks for posting all of this. I have been taking photos of myself because I can’t afford a model. And I felt weird about it. Now I will actively continue my self portraits. I especially loved the Avatar pic.

    Haha the frustration part is me now. No remote and running back and forth between camera a pose! Great tips!