Get into the frame: 5 tips for making a self-portrait.

May 29, 2020

Mother and son making a self-portrait

Making self-portraits is something wonderful to do for everyone. It is liberating, some special time just for you and it is a wonderful way to be creative. As a business owner it is especially useful to take great self-portraits for your social media and for moms it is also a great way to get into the pictures with your children. It might feel a bit daunting to take self-portraits so here are some tips to help you take those first steps towards taking great selfies.

Mother and child making a self-portrait lying on the bed.
 It isn’t polished: my hair wasn’t combed, I have no make-up, the dress didn’t close well at the back, I felt perhaps not my most beautiful, but will that matter to my little love? No! And in the end, it actually doesn’t matter to me. I look at the pictures, flaws and all and I love them! It is me, him and we had so much fun making these. I don’t want to be absent in the photos for I am the most present in his life and I want him to see how much I loved him now and ever. 

Step 1: Finding inspiration for your self-portrait

Look for some inspiration on Pinterest or perhaps you’ve seen a photo you like on Instagram. You can use them as examples for your own portraits.

Step 2: Getting in the mood to take your self-portrait

Make yourself feel good. It can help you feel more comfortable by wearing clothes you love or clothes that fit the mood you want to portray in your self-portrait. If you want, you can put on some make up. And to help you relax and feel more loose and joyful you can put on some music. Make this a special time for you.

Mother and child having fun taking selfies
Have fun together and if you are making a portrait of just you, have fun too. Put the music on, dance, smile. There will be lots of ‘bad’ pictures, but I assure you that you’ll have some wonderful ones as well.

Step 3: Find the right spot to take your photograph

Perhaps when starting out you can take self-portraits in the privacy of your home, perhaps with time you will even take some portraits in public (I still have to take that bold step, one day!). When choosing the place to photograph pay attention to any possible distracting elements in your shot like ugly wires etc. And pay attention to the colours, all the elements and things in your frame.

When choosing the place to take your self-portrait it is important to pay attention to the light conditions. Choose somewhere not too far from the window. It is often quite nice to have your face towards the window so that you are well and evenly lit. For a more dramatic light you can have the window light fall sideways on your face, making the other half of your face fall more into the shadows. Depending on the look of your photo you can also play with light and shadows.

Self-portrait of mother and child embracing
My second attempt ate putting myself in the frame.

Step 4: Use accessories within your portraits

To help you tell a story you can use accessories like flowers, a cup of tea, a computer, book, notebook, food etc. Choose accessories that fit your story. Sometimes it can help you feel more comfortable (perhaps when taking a self-portrait for the first time) to hold an accessory like a cup of tea or a book in your hand.  

Loving embrace of son and mother in a self-portrait.
Yes, I have a triple chin and I look a bit funny. But I still am so happy seeing this picture and feeling the love. I will be trying to do a lot more of these! And I hope you will give it a go too!

Step 5: How to set up your camera

Use the self-timer setting on your phone or camera and use a tripod to put it on the angle and height you want. If you don’t have a tripod (or a gorilla pod) then you can also use a pile of books or other objects to prop up the camera.

To get sharp images you can set your focus on the place you want to sit, stand, or lie down. You can also use an object to stand in the spot and this can help you set your focus on it.

I hope these tips will help you get into the frame and create some great self-portraits. Most importantly have fun, see this as a special and creative time for yourself!

If you enjoyed this article then you might also like my tips on how to take better pictures with your mobile phone.


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