Being a professional wedding photographer, I know how important it is for my clients to have an engagement session or just some kind of photoshoot so we can get a chance to work together before the actual wedding. The purpose of these shoots is not just to get some fabulous photos but more so for the couple to get comfortable working with the photographer and being in front of the camera. Not everyone wants to do these sessions or feel like they need to, but trust me, it makes a HUGE difference. From my 10+ years of photographing people and weddings, I’ve seen even the shyest couples just loving it by the end and getting even more excited for their wedding day. It’s this experience that can help build that necessary connection and trust between a photographer and their subject, which undoubtedly plays a large role in being able to successfully capture the emotion and story. This is especially true for those who may have never been professionally photographed before or are a little camera shy in general.
Having said that, when time is not on your side (or you’re a procrastinator like me) and you want to challenge yourself, you take the matters into your own hands. Although it seems like we live in a world that is obsessed with cellphone selfies, I think the self portrait still has it’s place. Especially for photographers, we’re often the ones behind the camera, missing from the photo or too busy capturing the moments of other people’s lives. I feel that it’s important to take some time to also capture some scenes from our own lives. It also allows us to look at ourselves and photography from a different perspective. I DO NOT , however, agree with daily taking of blurry, poorly lit, bathroom mirror selfies. WHY???? One photo, ok you’re working towards a healthy lifestyle, good on you. Two? Great you’re making some progress and you’re having a great hair day. Three…alright you’re fit and have smizing down, we got it…Four…great, even worse it’s just a close up of duck face for the next 328 photos. UGH.
But I digress…
Self portraits are always a little tricky. A great self portrait requires a little more effort and planning. Between getting your focus, composition and positioning right, the fun factor can disappear quite quickly.
So if you’re thinking about venturing out and doing some self portraits of your own, here are a few tips that will help make the experience a littler easier and more enjoyable. And yes, it’s probably going to take a least 3 tries.
- Have a plan – Knowing what you want or having some ideas will help you utilize your time more wisely (very important if you’re chasing the light or on a time crunch)
- Tripod – A must have if you plan on being in the photo and getting a steady shot…unless you feel comfortable putting your camera on a random surface and hoping for the best.
- Remote – Again a must have unless you like to do 10 second running intervals between your camera. A good wireless remote will let you take your time getting to where you need to be and taking multiple shots if you need to without having to walk all the way back to press the shutter again.
- Focus – Set your focus before you’re ready to take the shot. I usually manually focus on something in the same area that I’m going to be in, that way when I go to press the shutter, it won’t automatically try to re-focus and potentially focus on something else. Your aperture and depth of field will determine how much room you have to move if you’re not in exact spot you focused
- Composition – Try to pre-visualize your shot and consider your composition before getting in the frame. Where will you be? How will that look? This will save you time and steps. Also be aware of your surroundings and where your camera is located. If those kids running around make your nervous about leaving your camera on the tripod, then you should probably wait for the traffic to clear.
- Just go with the flow – Shot not turning out like you thought? Oh well, move on. Take a random shot or try something else. Once it gets too serious or you get too frustrated, it’s not fun anymore and that probably means poopy photos.
Obviously these may not apply if you’re out and about and just get inspired by a reflection, a moment, a scene or a certain light. In that case, just do whatever works best for you. Finally, not a tip but a request. For the love of god, please don’t hashtag “authentic” in your self portraits.
As a follow up to my previous post of my selfie engagement session, here are a few outtakes that consists of missed focused, bad timing, trying to stay warm, confusion about whether or not the camera was going off and just randomness :)