Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of those we envy.

~ Heraclitus ~

How To Take A Good Self Shot

June 23rd, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 50 secs

Getting a good self shot is not for babies (they need help).

Getting a good self shot is not for babies (they need help).

Taking a good self shot is at once easy and tricky. Easy as most every smartphone lets you do it, along with an endless array of cameras. Tricky because in taking “selfies” you are jumping the divide between what you think you look like and what others see.

Actually photographing a self shot is an interesting activity on many levels. A great many of us feel uneasy about having our picture taken because of what they reveal. Which isn’t surprising, given we’ve all seen enough cringe worthy shots of us presented with a contorted face, looking weird eating, or in some other embarrassing pose that’s enough to make us want to melt into the floor and disappear.

Forget about them. The essence of a good self shot is about capturing an element of your identity without anyone else around to see you do it. That seems easy enough, but how?

Here are some tips to help get the best self shot of you ever:

  1. In case you are feeling a bit self conscious think of this activity as a photographic project and that you are in charge of it all.
  2. Make your self shot session relaxed by getting rid of distractions and interfering rubbernecks.
  3. Choose somewhere where you can sit, lean, or stand, and consider including something you can look at or hold with your other hand (like a pen, camera, book, or item that tells viewers about you).
  4. Consider using black and white. Often eliminating colors or picking out just one or two hues can create a much stronger mood. Black and white gets attention.
  5. Take a lot of shots and give your self time to get some good results. True, you can get the odd good selfie on the go, but a proper self shot shoot usually achieves a lot more content. Out of many, pick the best. Then delete all the rest (because nobody has time or interest to look at second-rate photos).
  6. Think about light because, like any portrait, a self shot needs good light. Try taking pics of you sitting near a window and experiment with position and curtains to get the lighting conditions right.  Choose even light for a less harsh effect and avoid glare. If you are shooting outside on a sunny day, try taking your selfies out of the sun in medium shadow. To capture that bright eye effect, try looking out toward sunlight.
  7. Consider your self shot background and use it to your advantage by only including what’s relevant to you. A good setting is neutral or else helps tell your “story” (like a kitchen would for an avid cook).
  8. Vary your angles. Because every face has a good side, take some self shots from higher up, lower down, at eye level and from both sides to find your best.
  9. The eyes have it! So concentrate on revealing your identity through your eyes. Above all, choose self shots with your eyes focused and sharp (any pics with your eyes even slightly blurred should be rejected).
  10. Think shapes not detail. Good self shots can be obtained by concentrating on shapes (e.g. your face, arms, and posture). Again, experiment leaning your head on one or both hands on a table or couch to see what you can produce.
  11. Turn your head. The slightest tilt can make all the difference, so try turning your face this way and that to see what you can produce.
  12. Get fancy. Self shots can be made even more polished with thought about:
  • Your dress
  • Shooting at those times when you tend to look your best
  • Using make up (or not)
  • Location (a good spot embodies a mood that you may want to convey), and Technical enhancements (like a tripod with a timer, a better camera, photographic lighting equipment, and editing software).

In the end, taking a good self shot is immensely satisfying and you don’t have to be a professional to do it. With a bit of time and thought you can produce quality photographs you can enjoy and remain totally in control of the process.

Are You Ready?

Who Are You, Really?



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