Thursday, August 2, 2012

Express Yourself

We use self-portraits to explore a basic question that plagues all of us: Who am I?
Text & Photography By Meredith Winn Published in Shooting
Express Yourself
When I take self-portraits, I look at the image as a photographer setting up a scene. I do my best to remove my inner critic and view the scene as a director. How is the light? How is the angle? What's behind me? Once your camera settings are correct, place yourself within the frame and start photographing the moment. It helps if you don't review each image until your session is over. Be gentle with yourself. Smile if you feel like it. Don't smile if you don't feel like it.


Everything is an optical illusion! Using playfulness to create authentic images is a fun practice. Set up a tripod or use your remote to get some space from yourself to be in the moment. Then grab a Hula-Hoop, dance, twirl and spin. Be silly with props, bubble gum, wigs or masks. There are so many ways to lighten up in front of the camera.

For playful self-portraits, try jumping! Be mindful of your scenery and environment. Big open walls work best (bricks, warehouses, painted murals). A shutter speed of 1?500 sec. or faster will help "freeze" your frame and keep you in midair (1?320 sec. can be used in darker conditions). Jumping by intuition with your self-timer or remote will require many attempts and guaranteed laughter.


One of my favorite ways to document my sense of self is through reflections. It's where I have most creative control. I seek out reflections to create something surreal or obscure. Think about how the space around you can help tell your story.

Find unusual surfaces (other than mirrors) in which to photograph yourself: teakettles, car windows, mixing bowls, hubcaps, puddles—reflective surfaces are everywhere. Shop windows can easily create double-exposure-type self-portraits. Putting your reflection into a colorful storefront display can lead to some great abstract and thought-provoking images.


Use your environment to aid in composition and storytelling. My surroundings are very much a part of myself; I enjoy seeing how I fit into my world. By inserting yourself into your environment, you'll quickly see the story of self that can be written within the frame.

Try different perspectives. Lie in the grass and set your camera on the ground in front of you for a more intimate nature self-portrait. Set your camera on the ground for a lower point of view. Walk away from the camera to include more of your environment around you. Autofocus your lens to the spot where you'll be standing. Then switch to manual focus before using your remote or self-timer; this way, the focus is set and doesn't change with the release of your shutter.
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