11 Ideas for your Next Self Portrait

Believe it or not, you need to take self portraits (even as a photographer)

A surprisingly helpful exercise we did in my college classes was having to sit in front of the camera for my classmates. Now, this was actually because we didn’t have enough theater students to go around but it was cleverly disguised as teaching us that you need to learn how to be in front of the camera as well as behind it. You don’t have to be good at it by any means, but having your photo taken can be quite humbling when you’re so used to taking the photos. By sitting in front of the camera, you make yourself a much better director for your subjects. Understanding the pressure and vulnerability will make your photoshoots so much more relaxed and smooth.

As I said above, these photos don’t have to be great, as you’re probably relying on a self timer or a remote. I’ve put together a list of a few different prompts that may help you on your next self portrait shoot or may even come in handy for your next shoot with a client.

1. the Bathroom

Let’s start where your day starts, shall we? Now, I know these pictures aren’t the most glamorous but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interesting! I’d suggest you take a walk through your morning or night routine and I’m sure that you’ll find something worth a shot.

2. the Projetor

I know that not everyone has one of these, however there are a lot of cheap ones you can buy online if this is something you’re interested in. I’ve had a great time with projector photos. Projector shoots are just so customizable, you can change it a color, a famous scene, a landscape, a texture, shapes, you name it! All you really need for this set up is a blank wall and some decent space to set up your projector and tripod.

3. Go for a Drive!

I don’t know about you, but going for a drive can literally change my entire day. I live by Lake Michigan, so I do have some incredible sights nearby, however, I’ve found some amazing spots hidden away miles away from the lakeshore. You’ll have an even better time if you have a drone – go ahead, use it as a selfie stick! Otherwise, simply make sure that you dress for the weather, bring a tripod and a remote. If you’re insecure about bringing your whole setup, just use your phone on a timer in a tree! I promise, I won’t think that you’re less of a photographer. After all, the best camera is the one that you have with you! Sometimes I pretend that I’m in a new place, although I’ve lived in this area for nearly my entire life. This method has seriously helped me see the beauty of where I live and love and appreciate good ‘ole Michigan.

4. Clean your Space

Tidying up your area can make a HUGE difference if you’re in a creative funk. Aside from having a clean space to think and create in, you’re always bound to discover something that you forgot that you had and who knows, that just may be the inspiration you need for your photoshoot! Whether or not you find some treasures, shooting pictures of yourself is always easier to do when you’re feeling accomplished and proud of your space.

5. Put down the Camera turn up the music

It’s amazing what a good playlist can do for you when you’re feeling uninspired or silly taking your own pictures. This is also something I’d recommend for any other kind of portrait shoot – it’s good to tailor playlists for types of clients – but that includes yourself! Seriously, I become a different person when Miley Cyrus and Stevie Nicks are singing “Edge of Midnight” in the background. Put together a playlist of music that makes you feel like the star of a heist movie. If you don’t know where to start – you can start with mine!

6. Play with Light

If you’re a beginner, I know this could sound intimidating. It is not as scary as it sounds, I promise. You don’t need a fancy set up or fancy lights by any means. This could mean moving where you hold the flashlight on your phone, it could mean messing around with lamps, with candles/lighters. I’ve even seen a lot of people duct-taping toilet paper rolls to create a spotlight with their phone flashlights. Mess around with your shadows with a relatively simple background and you’ve got a wide variety of photos to choose from!

7. Faceless Photos

Hey, while we’d all love to see your lovely face, shooting another part of yourself can be an excellent way to get yourself to think outside the box somewhat within in your comfort zone. You can incorporate this idea into any of the other prompts that I have listed as well. Going for a hike? Take a photo of yourself from behind. Making something to eat? Shoot a top down of your hands at work. Are you a painter? Let’s see those hands holding a paint brush. Do you have some tattoo(s) that you’re proud of? I would love to have a look! See, there are endless possibilities even when your face isn’t the focus.

8. Pick a Color

This one could make a little bit more effort, depending on how committed you are to one color. I find this to be a fun prompt as you can usually find something around the house to go along with these photos. For example, grab a shirt that you feel comfortable in and find a food to match. Orange? Have a carrot or an orange. Red? I’m sure you have an apple. Green? Well, there’s salad, green grapes, broccoli. White? I think you deserve to have a bowl of vanilla ice cream. This is really as simple as browsing your wardrobe and pairing it with an item you may already have.

9. Play in Post

Here’s another great one that can be applied to any of these prompts – playing with the photo in post production. Once you’ve taken your photo, your photo is far from being finished. Next, we move onto the editing stage. How you edit your photo can completely change your final product. When I’m feeling more creative or if I’m really not happy with a photo, I edit it first in Lightroom and then take it over to Photoshop or I add some drawing or make some sort of collage with Procreate on my IPad. This is such a fun way to highlight your unique style and maybe try something you wouldn’t have done before. This can also be a great way to recylce an old photo when you don’t exactly have the time to take more photos.

10. Make Yourself Up

Remember, makeup has no gender or sexuality. It truly doesn’t matter who you are, you can have fun with makeup. Makeup itself can be used for such a wide variety of looks too. Whether you’re just adding some eyeliner, mastering the art of contouring, or creating an intricate design on your face, your look will be striking no matter what.

11. Get CLOSE or Get FAR

Are you ready for your closeup? Because this one is exactly what it sounds like. Sometimes you need to take a step closer and sometimes it helps to take a step back. This is also I like to keep in mind when I’m shooting anything, in general. One of my favorite things is to confuse people about my subject. Below you can see a few examples that I’ve taken recently that aren’t portrait just to show this method in action.

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