I have finally decided to start a series of posts about how to take self-portraits. btw, this post is long, so please grab a coffee/tea and enjoy! I was writing it for almost 3 days!!!
I am not a pro. I do not claim I am one. I am still learning and I hope to learn even more by doing this series.
The 365 Self-Portrait Project has taught me how to overcome a few obstacles that many people come across when they want to start taking self-portraits:
- Lack of remote
- Not having a tripod (I have one but believe me, in 366 days of 2012 I used it less than 10 times)
- Having two kids around all the time
- Low self-esteem/Shyness
- Creativity (lack of it, I meant)
- Boring life
- Lack of time (how can you have a boring life and a lack of time at the same time?)
I could think off a few more things but as for now those are the biggest problems I remember I encountered at the beginning. I still have some issues with those things, believe me. I do struggle with focus, what probably will force me to get a remote in a few weeks (I already found one that I would want to get). I do struggle with creativity and my posing sucks; I do have a funny story to tell about it, though.
Having taken on this project (365 Self-Portraits in one year), in a very difficult time of my life has given me something than many self-portrait artists don’t have to go through while creating their portraits.
This past year was terribly hectic. I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t. I was mother of one child, then all of a sudden I had two of them. I was ok with my pregnant body and I really enjoyed to take photographs of pregnant me, but after the baby was born, immediately, I got very aware of my post-pregnant shapes, and jumping in front of the camera was the last thing I wanted to do.
With two little kids, where one is a “never wanting to let off the booby” kind, it was even harder to get creative or be on my own, in peace and quiet, having all the free time, trying this or that, until I am happy with the shot. I actually had limited time, limited opportunities, and limited energy (VERY limited energy). Many pictures were taken “on the run”, literally. My camera was always around and I would take it every single place we went. I just couldn’t afford to lose a good opportunity to take a self-portrait while doing…, well, while doing anything.
As a family we do not have very active social life so we are not in many situations that other people would take a photo of us and our kids together FOR us. Even if … I am always not very happy with pictures that strangers take for us while we are out and about. I hate that most people do not know how to handle a DSLR set on MANUAL. My camera is always on MANUAL, so if I forget to change it or at least explain a few things to the person it means that most of the pictures we are going to be on are overexposed or underexposed, and that somebody will be out of focus, read WE, the family, will be out of focus (and I know it from my personal experience). The outcome is predictable: those pictures are always deleted, what makes my husband really mad. And don’t you agree that those pictures always look the same. Boring. Flat. They look just like any other family portrait taken by a stranger where the only difference is the background (and outfits).
Do those pictures look boring:
what about these:
ok, the last example is not the best. I have to admit I did a poor job encouraging my husband to get into the picture in this project. I will have to change that this year.
Anyway, when it is you who is in charge of taking pictures as well as posing in them you can control EVERYTHING! Don’t like it? Do it again. Something is out of focus? Re-focus and shot again. The picture is overexposed? Change the settings and DO IT AGAIN. Don’t like the perspective/angle? Move the camera, refocus, check the settings, and take a few more pictures. You can repeat the process until you’re happy with at least one photo. Sometimes it takes time but the more you do it the better you get in doing it right in less time. At the end it is you and only you who decide how much of you people are going to see.
The thing is, if you do it on your own, in your own time frame, surrounded by things you like, and maybe listening to a favorite music, you will feel more comfortable to just be yourself in front of the camera. To make a goofy face, to have a natural smile, to be more playful, or romantic, etc. The sky’s the limit.
Being honest with you, I do not have the entire plan for this series lined up in front of me. It’s not like I already have done the creative thinking and I have written all the topics and dates for them. NO. To make a good and informative post with a few examples and explanations I need time – sometimes I don’t have it (time), that’s why I don’t promise to publish “one post a week” with a new topic on how to take self-portraits. I will try to do my best, though. I think, it probably will be one post a month.
I enjoy doing it and I do it because I want to do it, not because I must do it. I want it to stay that way. I want to keep it healthy. Healthy for me. I had been through a period where blogging, getting comments and new followers would take over my personal life, my mood. I based my happiness on the number of comments and visitors to my blog. So no, I will not allow myself to slip into the same situation again.
You have to be aware; this is different from just taking a self-portrait and posting it here with a few words describing the photo. This series is my next challenge. Normally photography is a very intuitional process to me. Here, in order to explain things I’ll try to go into more technical parts of this process: f-stops, ISO, light, post-processing, lenses.
It is going to be a self-educating process. If there is one person out there who will learn something from it as well, I’ll be thrilled.
So please, if you don’t understand something I am going to talk about, just be patient and ask questions. It doesn’t hurt to ask and it could teach both sides (me and you) something new. I appreciate all the questions. I do want to help women to get out of the closet and be comfortable with their own images, no matter what age and shapes.
To stay updated with each post from this series you can simply follow this blog, my Facebook page or Twitter, but being honest with you, I am not a Twitter person. I tweet rarely, and mostly those are updates from my posts, nothing else. The best way to stay in touch is to follow my Facebook Page.
I will not be giving any assignments or self-portrait themes, and I am not going to create link-ups. If some of my posts inspire you to go out there and to experiment with self-portraits, I encourage you to come back to my blog and leave a link to your post with self-portraits in the comments section of the most recent post from this series.
To check which is the latest post from this series if you just mouse over the button where is says “Self-Portraits”. Do not click on it. A small list will show up.
Now there is only one thing: “365+1 Self-Portrait Project”. Clicking on it will take you to the whole year of my self portraits. Post after post.
After this post is published I’m going to add one more option: “How to take self-portraits”. Clicking on it will take you to posts from this series ONLY.
My next post, actually first in which I give some real advice, not just plain talk, about “how to” take self-portraits is almost ready and will be up on the blog next week. I am going to talk about achieving reasonable good focus without using the remote, as well as how to do it all without a tripod.
So lets the fun begin!