Self Portraits. I never used to like them, and in fact I barely used to take them. I didn’t like the way I looked in photos, so I pretty much avoided being in front of my big fancy camera at all costs. But then my 365 Project started on January 1st, 2011, and I could no longer hide. Every photographer has something that they love to shoot. For some it’s landscape. For others it’s cars, bikes and all things automobile. But for me it’s people. I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of all of the things I want to do in my photography – but that’s for another blog post. So I started my 365 Project and set myself a target – at least one self portrait a month.This was largely inspired by Sarah Rhoads who speaks a lot about the importance of self portraits on her blog. I honestly thought that the self portraits would be a hassle, a chore to do just so that at the end of 2011 I could put a tick next to “take at least one self portrait a month”. But I was wrong. I soon began to find myself taking lots of photos of .. well .. myself. And it has opened up something so beautiful for me, and has become something that I am so grateful for.
1) I love self portraits because it allows me to create the exact image that I want, without having to worry about the model being cold in the winter weather, or bored while I experiment. It’s much easier for me to suffer for my art than for someone else to suffer for my art.
2) I love self portraits because it allows me to express myself. It’s a documentation of how I felt on that particular day, how I looked at that point in my life. A sort of photo diary of my interpretation of the world that day. And that’s fascinating to me.
3) Some of the self portraits that I have taken in the past month and a half have been some of my favorite images I have ever taken.
4) This may sound ridiculous, but it’s almost been like a therapy of some sort.
5) Practice makes perfect. The more I do this, the more I get to experiment – because I have no one to please but myself :)
The reason I did this post was to respond to those of you who have emailed with specific questions – namely how I shoot my self portraits. So here’s the 411.
1) I come up with a vague idea in my mind of what I want in my photo (Note: The vague idea in my mind is never what the photo actually ends up being)
2) I set up my handy-dandy tripod.
3) I attach my camera to the tripod and make it as stable as possible because the last thing I want is for my baby to fall.
3) I make an attempt at focusing. The best way of doing this is to put something in your place, focus on it, then remove it and stand in the exact spot that it was. However, I still haven’t found something tall enough to put in my place, and most times it’s trial and error (which unfortunately can be very annoying when I’m in the cold trying to take this photo).
4) I use my new best friend, a Canon Rc-1 Remote Control, and shoot away to my heart’s content.
5) Due to the fact that the focus is trial and error – I do something that sounds a bit silly when said out loud, but what the heck – I basically stand in the position that I want and take the same photo over and over again, only slightly changing my distance from the camera every time. Why? Because I shoot at f/1.4 – and a slight change of distance could mean that instead of having the focus on my nose (bad idea), the focus will be spot-on on my eye instead (success).
6) I go through the photos until I feel I have a fair few to choose from.
7) I take it into Photoshop and work some magic.
That’s the end of my self portrait process.
Well, I hope this has been of some use to you guys, and I hope that I’ve answered your questions and given you an insight into my new love of self portraiture. It’s very fun and rewarding so I highly recommend that you all go home and try it right now! :)