LIGHTING IS EVERYTHINGLighting is crucial to evocative photography. Focusing either on darkness or light will provide strength in your self-portraits. Setting your intention for mood prior to taking your shot will help you get the photo you're looking for. To find great catchlights, turn your face toward a glass window. This will put a sparkle in your eye and the natural lighting will complement your face.
I know the rules of photography, and occasionally I like to break them. Capturing sun flare is a technical rule-breaker, but can be a great way to inject mood into your frame. With your back to the sun, practice watching the beads of flare move across your lens as you move your position to the sun. Lens flare can be seen as several starbursts, rings or circles in a row across your image. Flare patterns spread across the scene and change location with the camera's movement relative to the sun. Different lenses create different flare patterns. Remove your lens hood and try out a variety of lenses to capture and play with sun flare.
BE AUTHENTICMy everyday emotions are my cue for picking up my camera. The mood of the image will be authentic if you stay in the moment. Pay attention to those times of strong emotion. Your camera acts as a tool of expression. Part of me needs to visually define my outer boundaries of who I am as a person, woman, mother, sister, daughter and lover. There's no easier (or harder) way to do this than through photography. Photography becomes the proof I seek to state that I was here, I existed, I mothered, I loved and I created something with my time.
As a photographer, you already document the world around you. Through the process of self-portraiture, you now have a place in all that beauty. By putting yourself in front of your lens, you're contributing to the important moments of everyday life.
Meredith Winn is a writer, photographer, and co-founder of NOW YOU Workshops. She's also a contributor to Shutter Sisters, featured in our regular column, Point of Focus. See more of Winn's photography on her blog the-spirit-of-the-river at www.meredithwinn.com.