Photography tips – a self portrait

I have received a few requests for tips/themes, so I’m going to try to incorporate them in the next few weeks.  Maggie asked if I could do one for self portraits, so that is what this week’s theme is focused on.  As a mom and avid photographer, the only time I ever get in a picture is if I take it myself.  I’m sure many other moms are in this same predicament, too.

In order to take a self portrait, the best way is to use your remote or timer.  Arms length definitely works, but it is just harder to try to get a good shot when you have to worry over if you arm is blocking the shot…and it’s just awkward.  So, learn to use the timer and remote.

Family Photo taken before Mass on Christmas – remote and tripod


When using either of these, make sure you know where the focus will land to make sure you have a decent in-focus shot. I either set my camera to auto-focus, or set the center-focus point, and make sure I place myself where the focus will land.  It’s a bit of trial and error to make sure the focus is landing right.  You may want to put a child in the spot you want to sit and do a few test shots.

Now, how to take a better portrait.  A little bit of this depends on what you want for your portrait.

If you want a more dramatic, make-you-look-fabulous shot, then here are a few tips.

  • Put on more makeup than you normally would.  Lipstick, eyeshadow and eyeliner.  It helps to accentuate your features and make them pop.
  • Wear solid colors, or just keep the outfit less busy.  You don’t want your clothing to be the focus of the photo.
  • When taking your picture, elongate your neck, push your chin forward and tilt your head a bit.  It makes your face look thinner…and looking thinner is always a good thing.
  • If you are going for a whole body shot – don’t stand parallel to the lens.  Angle your body (again…thinning!) and try to create “triangles” with your arms. Have your hands on your hips and not flat against your body.  Having your arms hang close to your sides adds weight and makes you appear “closed”.  Opening up your arms and keeping them away from your body makes you appear more open and friendly.
  • Sit next to a window, but make sure direct sunlight is not falling on you.  That will cause harsh lighting, and you want the light to be more diffused.
  • Overall, try to be mindful when taking your portrait (posing and adjust your clothing for wrinkles and such) and try different expressions (happy, serious, goofy…have fun with it!).
  • Take lots of pictures, one has got to turn out right??


9 Replies to “Photography tips – a self portrait”

  1. Great tips! I am definitely going to use them next time I take my own picture…like you I’m the photographer in the family. And when I do take self-portraits – I always take a ton, usually one is acceptable. (I’m gonna be smokin’ now after loading on the make-up!)

  2. So when I said I thought it would be fun to see everyone do a self portrait, I didn’t really think about the fact that this meant that *I* would also have to do one. Yikes! Now I’m a little nervous….but I am TOTALLY excited to see everyone!

  3. great tips! i am going to be away on thursday so i won’t be participating but i look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with…and i’ll have to give it a try another day…

  4. I love that last…take a lot of photos, one has to come out right, right?

    I appreciate your tips, I’d love to get better at photography-I need to gain understanding and I so appreciate you sharing your wisdom!

    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

  5. I love all your photo tips, I have spent the last 2 hours going through most of them. I have never taken a self portrait but am going to try. Everytime I give the camera to my husband, so I can be in one, all the picture are blurry (he is using my D80 on automatic focus, go figure)

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