News: 8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

Giveaway Tuesdays has officially ended! But don't sweat it, WonderHowTo has another World that's taken its place. Every Tuesday, Phone Snap! invites you to show off your cell phone photography skills.

Submit your best shot to our weekly competition for a chance to win an awesome prize. Phoneographers only—both Android and iPhone welcome! Check it out now.

There's only two days left to enter this week's Giveaway Tuesday, and we'd like to see your best self portrait. Submit now (details here), or if you're in need of guidance, check out the tips below, plus a collection of inspiring shots via Flickr.

1. Relax and Be Yourself.

The worst self-portraits are the overly self-conscious ones. Imagine you're taking a picture for your best friend, or your mom - whomever you can be yourself around.  

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

2. Use a Timer and/or a Tripod.

We covered timer apps for iPhone/Android, and your standard digital camera should come equipped with a timer as well. Set up a tripod if you have one (if you don't, a rock or table should suffice), and try setting the timer on burst mode. This will give you a variety of shots to choose from.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

3. Play Around with Focus.

Select focus can put you in the spotlight, or make you recede into the background. Either way, it's an interesting and potentially beautiful way to emphasize or de-emphasize your chosen subject matter.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

4. Play Around with Light.

There are many ways to play around with light. One idea: try using a flashlight in a dark room to focus on one element (your face, your hands, etc.). Experiment with capturing the shot with or without the camera's built in flash.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

5. Watch Yourself as You Shoot.

Want to see what kind of faces you're making? Try placing a mirror behind the camera as you pose. Set it on burst-mode and play around. Or take it a step further - use your mirror as a prop to create multiple reflections, as shown below.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

6. Distract Yourself.

Set the camera on burst mode and go about your daily tasks, or do something you enjoy. Make pancakes, water the plants, ride by the tripod on your bicycle. Don't pose - try to forget the camera is there.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

7. Shoot Candid

Some people are good at staring into the camera, and relaxing. Try capturing yourself open and unguarded as you gaze into the shutter.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

8. Go Outside the Box.

Shy? Not to worry. A self portrait doesn't necessarily have to be of your face. Adventurous? Then ham it up. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Capture your shadow in an interesting way.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Take a photo of your feet, or just your hands. 

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Play with costumes, or strike a crazy pose. 

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Ham it up with lots of emotion.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Set up an interesting background.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Get creative with Photoshop.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Let the landscape do the talking - set your timer and become one with nature.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Play with perspective - take the shot from up high or down low.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

  • Get an action shot - jump, run, toss props in the air.

8 Guidelines for Taking Self Portraits (+ 16 Inspiring Shots)

Photo credits, in order of appearance: Scarleth White, orange tuesday, laszlo-photo, madamepsychosis, andres.thor, ethan, lauren.rushing, dlemieux, Meredith_Farmer, brownhorse, Hamed Saber, blythe_d, toniwbusch, dlemieux, J. Star, serendipity

4 Comments

This has, like. all of my ideas!

Thank god there are no Planking pics.

WOW. I need to learn how to take photographs like this with my new canon 5d mark II. One problem ....learning how to use the camera:)

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