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Taking A Great Self Portrait With Your Camera

Updated on August 18, 2014

How To Take Self Portraits That You Will Love

Taking self portraits is a lot of fun and can be easy when you know how. This guide is all about getting a great photograph of yourself - when you are the one taking the picture! Discover some top self portrait tips to get you started.

Want to surprise a loved one with a photo of yourself, without the cost and formality of a photo shoot? Need a passport-style photograph or profile pic quickly, but nobody on hand to take it? Dying to try a daring new look.... in the privacy of your own home? With tips on flattering self portrait poses (that will also make you look your best when someone else is taking the picture), plus some quick style recommendations, you'll be ready for your close-up in no time!

These days, almost every digital camera will allow you to take your own picture using the self-portrait mode. Just use your computer to make any necessary edits and print it out - easy!

All portrait images courtesy of Krystle on morgueFile.com. Thanks Krystle for your generosity in sharing your work.

What you need:

Digital camera

Tripod (recommended)

Computer with image editing software

Printer (optional)

Suitable backdrop

Yourself!

Available at Allposters.com

There are a few different self portrait photography techniques you can use, but first you'll want to look your best. A model would be perfectly styled before going near the camera, and for great results so should you be.

Besides, the better you look in the original photograph, the less time you will need to spend fiddling around with editing software, and the more natural your resulting picture. (Plus, it is not advisable to digitally enhance photographs needed for official purposes such as a passport.)

Start with freshly washed and styled hair. If you wear make-up, take your time over it. If you don't, consider whether a little eye liner or a touch of lipstick would brighten your face. Whether male or female, you might want a touch of face powder to get rid of shiny skin!

Unless you want to show off a specific outfit or costume, wear whatever you feel good in. Colors can really make a difference to your looks so trust your instincts on what looks good on you. The right shade will flatter you, the wrong one will leave you looking drained.

Getting that Model Look - Give Yourself a Professional Makeover

Take tips from top make-up artists on how to look your very best before you even step in front of a camera lens!

Learn the how and the why of applying makeup. Inspiring before and after shots of real women show you the kind of transformation you can achieve. Includes tips for all face and eye shapes and skin tones.

Makeup Makeovers by Robert Jones is currently one of the most highly-rated on Amazon.com. I've listed the more up to date copy of the book.

Flatter Your Figure! - Be Gorgeous from Top to Toe!

I bet you have noticed when you wear a certain color you get more compliments? You probably also have outfits that make you feel great, giving you confidence to show off your best features. Get the color and style of your outfit right and you can be confident about your appearance.

Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It: Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Revised Edition
Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It: Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Revised Edition

Looking your best and feeling it too is all about finding a look that flatters your figure. There are countless books out there to help you to get it right.

I'm recommending Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It: Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style for a couple of reasons. First, it is a modern, fresh book so you can be confident that the style advice is bang up to date. Second, the Amazon reviews by delighted book buyers speak for themselves!

Discover more great guides on what to wear and how to dress available on Amazon.com.

 

Self Portrait Ideas: Get the Background Right

Where to shoot your self portrait

For official photos you should find a plain background - this may need to be white, cream or pale grey.

Informal shots can have a more natural background but, remember, this is all about you. Avoid distracting backgrounds. Choose a plain wall or a screen draped in a subtle fabric for head shots.

If you want to pose in the garden, keep the background simple - leaves are fine, or flowers, but avoid too many colours or people will look at the background, not you.

Here are 5 top tips on How to Compose Photos with Good Backgrounds brought to you by DUMMIES.com.

If you are posing indoors, a full length curtain can be used as a quick background solution. Bright colors can work well as backgrounds. However, the best color backdrop is one that suits your skin tone. Do you look good in blue and cool colours? Or do you suit warmer tones? Some people come alive against shades of red (warm skin tones), others look better against soft shades of pink or blue (cool skin tones).

Check out this link on DIYPhotography net if you want to make your own Muslin Photography Background. Or you can buy ready-made backdrops from Amazon.

Photography Backdrops on Amazon

Choose a professional backdrop to give your selfies that polished look. You'll friends will be asking who the photographer was!

CowboyStudio Hand Painted 6 X 9ft Blue and Purple Muslin Photo Backdrop
CowboyStudio Hand Painted 6 X 9ft Blue and Purple Muslin Photo Backdrop

A blue and purple backdrop creates an interesting background to portraits without distracting. It will flatter most people, but use a wide aperture on your camera to make sure it is captured in soft focus.

 

Self Portrait Poses

Pose Like a Pro

Take some tips here from the experts.

Photographer Riccardo Cellere recommends:

  • lean in towards the camera to reduce double chin
  • angle your body and bend your arms to look slimmer
  • keep your shoulders back

Check out his video to see this in action.

For advice from the other side of the camera, model Josie Maran shares her secrets, including some great advice on a natural smile.

How to pose for the perfect picture

Top photographer tips on posing for photographs.

Some More Portrait Ideas - Flattering Poses for Women and for Men

Did you know that pro portrait photographers use different poses for male and for female subjects? It's true. There are poses that flatter women's bodies and bring out their feminine side. And of course there are more masculine poses that make men look their best too.

Learn which poses will work for you and which to avoid, and you have a better chance of getting a winning selfie!

Even better, knowing some cute poses will help you look your best when someone else is behind the camera too, whether you are posing solo, with friends, or that special somebody.

Model Posing 101

Model Josie Maran shares the secrets of her poses.

Almost there.... getting the light right

So you're looking good and all set up. Before you begin, check you have adequate lighting. Good natural light can be beautiful, as in this image from 'krystle' on morgueFile, but avoid strong sunlight that casts unflattering shadows. For some good advice, follow the advice of Photography.ca in their article on What is good light in photography.

Professionals use a range of lights and reflectors. You can rig up a reflector on the cheap if you don't want to invest in equipment. eHow show you how in How to Make a Homemade Photography Reflector.


Image courtesy of Krystle on morgueFile.com

Setting up your camera for a self portrait

Digital cameras these days often have a whole range of features and modes. Here are my tips for selecting the best features for taking a good photo of yourself.

Red eye reduction - Most cameras will let you select red eye reduction mode. This will cause your camera to flash twice, which gives your pupils time to contract so that 'red eye' is prevented.

Portrait mode - Your camera might have a variety of modes you can choose depending on the picture you are taking, for example: scenery, people (close-ups), night shots. Select the mode which is designed for close-up photos of people.

Beauty mode - Some cameras have a 'beauty mode' which is designed for enhancing close-up pictures of faces. It does this by evening out and brightening skin tone. These days, this kind of thing is often done in any case using computer editing, so if you prefer not to spend a lot of time at the computer you might like the results your camera will give in this mode.

Image stabilization - this feature is useful if you are not using a tripod, as it reduces the camera shake that can result from hand-held shots.

Self portrait photography technique no. 1

The long arm

This only works if you have very long arms and a steady hand. It's not recommended - the results can be very unflattering - but will do in a pinch. All you do is hold the camera as far from you as you can, smile and press the shutter.

You may have seen pro Riccardo Cellere use this technique in the above video. Even though his shot is quirky and fun, it doesn't make either of them look their best - and he's a professional!

If you do want to try it, keep the camera higher than you so that you are looking up - it gives a nicer shot than straight on. Tilt your head or angle the camera to one side so that you get a cute semi-profile rather than the 'convict mug-shot' look of staring into the lens. In fact, try a few shots where you are not even looking at the camera, for a more natural style.

  • Pitfalls:
  • Short-range shots don't flatter features - particularly noses
  • It's hard to keep your hand steady enough, though you may be able to find something to brace it against
  • You will have to use guesswork to know if you are in the shot

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Samsung EC-ST700 Dual View Camera - The Best Camera for Selfies?

Now taking a great self portrait is even easier! This Samsung 16 megapixel digital camera has a 1.5" LCD screen on the front of the camera - so you can see exactly what the camera sees.

Of course, there is a large LCD screen on the rear of the camera too, so it's up to you whether you want to be in the shot or not.

The camera is small and light enough to take anywhere, is packed with features, and takes high resolution digital pictures. It has a 5x zoom so is versatile too.

The camera is called the DV300F SMART in the UK.

Self portrait photography technique no. 2

Click and run

Use the camera's timer option. Almost every camera these days has one. Check your manual or look at the on-screen menu to figure out how to set it. The camera may give you a fixed time between your pressing the shutter and the photograph being taken. This could be just a couple of seconds, or may be 10 seconds. Or your camera may give you a choice.

Of course, you won't be holding the camera this time when the picture is taken, so you either need somewhere steady like a shelf or table (at the right height to take a flattering photo of you in your chosen pose) OR the better option is to use a tripod.

Take some trial shots using a placeholder such as a potted plant or other object that you can position as a 'stand-in' for yourself while you are behind the camera. This will allow your camera to correctly focus on your position.

Self portrait photography technique no. 3

Remote control

If you have a remote shutter release for your camera, you can pose and click without having to run backwards and forwards. The camera will also be able to focus on you correctly since you'll already be in place.

Mount your camera on a tripod and check that you will be in frame when the photo is taken (using your placeholder object or background).

If your hands are going to be in the shot, you'll need to figure out how to conceal the remote unit. They tend to be small so you may be able to cover it with your hand or disguise it in a piece of fabric.

Image courtesy of Krystle on morgueFile.com

Have you got any self portrait tips to share?

Taken any great photos of yourself? Share your top tips here. - I'd love to hear from you!

Submit a Comment

  • queenofbeauty profile image

    queenofbeauty 4 years ago

    Love the tips. Will put them to good use for some of my clients.

  • blestman lm profile image

    blestman lm 4 years ago

    Very rich lens. Thorough, detailed and well researched. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  • yoursfoolie profile image

    yoursfoolie 4 years ago

    So THAT'S why I always seemed to have a bigger nose and more chins when I took my own picture... Thanks!

  • AnonymousC831 profile image

    AnonymousC831 4 years ago from Kentucky

    Great lens, very detailed.

  • TanjaCrouch profile image

    TanjaCrouch 4 years ago

    Loved the tip about leaning into the camera. I always did the opposite. Thanks.

  • HSP Connections profile image

    Peter Messerschmidt 4 years ago from Port Townsend, WA, USA

    Cool article! Most "selfies" just SCREAM "I took this myself!" There's a lot of useful stuff here...

  • profile image

    Doc_Holliday 4 years ago

    I'm going to have to give this a go.

  • profile image

    adiehltwin 4 years ago

    The tips on posing are excellent, thank you!

  • clevergirlname profile image

    clevergirlname 4 years ago

    Very well put together!!!!

  • TapIn2U profile image

    TapIn2U 4 years ago

    That was easy. Thank you for the tips! Sundae ;-)

  • jc stone profile image

    Jordan 5 years ago

    I Used the camera's timer option with a tripod. It works good! Nice lens on a how to!

  • profile image

    Donnette Davis 5 years ago from South Africa

    There's an art to taking a great self-portrait. My teenager has it right down, I always seem to look like a witch, or you get a good view up my nose... not pretty... :)

  • geosum profile image

    geosum 5 years ago

    Great ideas. Thanks for the lens.

  • GrimRascal profile image

    GrimRascal 5 years ago from Overlord's Castle

    Vanity at its finest. Hehe, great lens.

  • happy-birthday profile image

    Birthday Wishes 5 years ago from Here

    After reading your great lens, I can not add any more tips. I have learned a lot! Thanks for sharing those good hints and tips!

  • Grasmere Sue profile image

    Sue Dixon 5 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

    I must try this. I'm the one with the camera, so I have lots of pics of my husband, none of me. I need something really flattering for my profile pics!

  • worldflashpacker profile image

    worldflashpacker 5 years ago

    Great lens, and now I know how to take a pic of myself.

  • choosehappy profile image

    Vikki 5 years ago from US

    My daughter takes amazing photos of herself; I'm always impressed with what she can do. Just stopping back in with a blessing ;)

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @Wendy Leanne: Nice work, and shows that sometimes you can get great results even handheld.

  • Wendy Leanne profile image

    Wendy Leanne 5 years ago from Texas

    What a great idea for a lens. I really enjoyed reading it. I have long arms. My profile pic is a self portrait that I took with my digital camera.

  • Dusty2 LM profile image

    Dusty2 LM 5 years ago

    Nice lens with some good tips on photography. The dual view camera is a plus. Thanks for sharing. (^_-)

  • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

    TedWritesStuff 5 years ago

    Have hundreds of wacky self portraits.. No more I say ;-)

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    Great lens! But you're giving away some of our best kept secrets! Lol

  • askformore lm profile image

    askformore lm 5 years ago

    Thank you for these great tips. I have a lot to learn!

  • anticruelty profile image

    anticruelty 5 years ago

    @indigoj: Believe me, men can be at least as vain as most women! Excellent post, and lovely self-portrait shots.

  • Teapixie LM profile image

    Tea Pixie 5 years ago

    This is awesome! What I love most is that, like me, you don't have a photo of yourself in your bio. ;) Your tips are going to help me, immensely. The closest to a self-portrait I've done is when I gave my young daughter the camera and told myself to look at her with all the love I have for her - it made for a great image.

  • bilafond lm profile image

    bilafond lm 5 years ago

    Very good tips. Dual view should be my next buy. Thank you so much for so much of information.

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    As an amature photographer my self I recommend:

    Adobe Lightroom CS4: To fix the light. You can't always get 100% perfect light.

    Portrait Professional: Powerful photo editing for dummies...

  • SusanRDavis profile image

    Susan R. Davis 5 years ago from Vancouver

    Those dual view cameras are cool. I'd never seen them before.

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @blancaverome: If it works, why not?! :) I use it quite a bit too.

  • blancaverome profile image

    blancaverome 5 years ago

    Great tips! I personally use the bent arm trick, lol.

  • Merstarr profile image

    Merstarr 5 years ago

    Great tips. Thanks :)

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @tonybonura: Ah, that's because us women tend to be more vain and I think more likely to dislike photos of ourselves. I could be wrong! I'm a Canon fan too.

  • tonybonura profile image

    Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

    Thanks for the great advice, even if most of seemed to be aimed toward women. :-) I have had an interest in photography ever since the early 70s when I took a photography course. My camera is a Cannon digital, and while it is not the fanciest camera, it suits my purposes quite well. Thanks for the tips.

    TonyB

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @Teapixie LM: Thanks Teapixie. Even though I figured out how to take better photos of myself, I'm still camera shy when it comes to publishing my photo to the entire web. But the tips work. :) Love the story about getting your daughter to take that image.

  • Spiderlily321 profile image

    Spiderlily321 5 years ago

    Great job on this lens. Thank you for sharing

  • WriterJanis2 profile image

    WriterJanis2 5 years ago

    Great photo tips.

  • Jogalog profile image

    Jogalog 5 years ago

    Really useful advice, especially for someone like me who justs points and shoots but should really try to improve.

  • Satha profile image

    Satha 5 years ago

    Some nice tips! I need to take some new photos of myself soon, so this lens is pretty useful. :D

  • profile image

    MimayManalo 5 years ago

    that was nice! gonna bookmark this lens, very useful :) very good source.

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    fantastic lens

  • RichLeighHD profile image

    RichLeighHD 5 years ago

    Brilliant lens; a lot of incredibly useful advice!

  • ElizabethSheppard profile image

    Elizabeth Sheppard 5 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

    I have taken a few photos of myself, but I think I will do them a lot better from now on after reading your lens. Thanks for sharing it! ::::blessed!::::

  • popupstands lm profile image

    popupstands lm 5 years ago

    really nice lens, well done, im inspired.

  • kburns421 lm profile image

    kburns421 lm 5 years ago

    I've taken a lot of self portraits that ended up looking nice (like my profile picture, actually), but I pretty much follow no rules, and they're not professional quality. I just take about 30 pictures until I get one how I want it haha. These are great tips. Very nice lens.

  • Gypzeerose profile image

    Rose Jones 5 years ago

    I am very inspired by this! Wonderful lens - you obviously know what you are talking about - Squid Angel Blessed.

  • Tia Novak profile image

    Tia Novak 5 years ago

    I usually don't take photos of myself but I love to take photos of other people.

  • Melissa Miotke profile image

    Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

    I don't think I have anything to add-I think you covered it. This was a great lens!

  • pinkrenegade lm profile image

    pinkrenegade lm 5 years ago

    Thanks for the useful information.

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @poptastic: Ah, but you always draw the best self portraits, who needs a camera with talent like that? :)

  • poptastic profile image

    Cynthia Arre 5 years ago from Quezon City

    Just stopping by to read one of my favorite lenses again! I've never done a self portrait before but the tips will surely come in handy when I need to. The info on here is very relevant to the times, especially in this age of Facebook and social media where putting on your "best face" is very important. :)

  • ievajansone20 profile image

    ievajansone20 5 years ago

    This was very helpful, I will need to try this out.

  • profile image

    sandi_x 5 years ago

    Great tips, thanks

  • funiworks profile image

    funiworks 5 years ago

    Yours is indeed a professionally written lens. Thanks for all your tips. Can't wait to try them.

  • bwet profile image

    bwet 5 years ago

    awesome tips... for me it is pretty much trial and error and a lot of camwhoring.. haha

  • profile image

    anonymous 5 years ago

    I would like to this cool lens with my friends on Facebook, thanks for sharing.

  • profile image

    JennySui 5 years ago

    Excellent lens! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  • wolvyz profile image

    wolvyz 5 years ago

    I think that your tips are Legendary.

  • profile image

    RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

    Love your lens - you give us good information here!

  • profile image

    photographycoursefanatic1 5 years ago

    Awesome lens

  • profile image

    jammarti 5 years ago

    Great tips! Ell organized and detailed. I should apply those tips personally. :D

  • profile image

    cabletiesandmore 5 years ago

    such a detail about self portrait photography ! Rare lens ! Whatever I say will be less. Great !!

  • crbphotography profile image

    crbphotography 5 years ago

    Very well organized with lots of great tips!

  • Joy Neasley profile image

    Joy Neasley 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

    I loved this page....I hate taking my own self portrait, but this lens makes it sound fun. I am going to have to have fun!

  • avigarret profile image

    avigarret 5 years ago

    This lens is both beautiful and useful, very extensive tips on self portraiit, thanks for sharing your expertise.

  • Michey LM profile image

    Michey LM 5 years ago

    Important info Thanks

  • TwylaN LM profile image

    TwylaN LM 5 years ago

    I haven't had much like doing a self portrait with my camera, but I'll put some of your tips to use and see if it will turn out better. Thanks!

  • Blonde Blythe profile image

    Blonde Blythe 5 years ago from U.S.A.

    Very informative, and very well done. I enjoyed my visit! :)

  • JoyfulReviewer profile image

    JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

    Thanks for the very helpful tips. Have bookmarked your lens for future reference. Blessed.

  • profile image

    SteveKaye 5 years ago

    The best photo that I took of myself was in Sequoia National Park, where I'm standing next to Giant Sequoia. I had to sprint 30 feet before the self time clicked the camera. Since I took about a dozen photos, this amounted to a good workout.

  • profile image

    hexadtraining 6 years ago

    I know lots who like taking self pics. I will definitely share that with them!!!

  • profile image

    TMimzy 6 years ago

    Great content, love it! :)

  • wrapitup4me profile image

    wrapitup4me 6 years ago

    Great presentation. So helpful.

  • troybreimon lm profile image

    troybreimon lm 6 years ago

    very good lens wordcustard :)

  • profile image

    anonymous 6 years ago

    Tons of useful photographic info. This lens serves as a great primer for novice and experienced photographers alike.

  • Faye Rutledge profile image

    Faye Rutledge 6 years ago from Concord VA

    Thanks for the great tips for taking a self-portrait.

  • profile image

    anonymous 6 years ago

    I'm not very good at it, but have very few photos of myself because I'm always the one taking the pictures. Thanks for the tips. I am going to avoid the one about adding a little makeup though.

  • rob-hemphill profile image

    Rob Hemphill 6 years ago from Ireland

    Very useful information. I've found having a remote unit to fire the shutter helps, as you can keep shooting while adjusting your pose. I use this technique a lot when shooting insects and flowers.

  • profile image

    mikelennonphotography 6 years ago

    Really interesting lens packed full of info! Thanks!

  • MindPowerProofs1 profile image

    MindPowerProofs1 6 years ago

    Just in time, I need to take a self portrait. Thanks for the tips. I will do my best

  • profile image

    anonymous 6 years ago

    Thanks for this lens. I have just started using Facebook and have wanted a new photo to put on it. I always admire people who have great bio photos. Using your tips, hopefully I'll have one, too! Thanks, again and all the best.

  • profile image

    Gala98 6 years ago

    yup, you can try using a mirror too - can be very hit & miss but my profile pic is one of the best self portraits I've ever managed! As a photographer myself, I don't mind the lens showing in the image, it's kind of suited to me I think :)

  • A Dolores Pepper profile image

    A Dolores Pepper 6 years ago

    That was a very helpful lens, I'm going to go get my camera now!

  • TTMall profile image

    TTMall 6 years ago

    Very informative lens. Well done!

  • cajkovska lm profile image

    cajkovska lm 6 years ago

    Nice lens and good tips... Thank you!

  • jadp27 profile image

    jadp27 6 years ago

    very interesting lens!

  • captainj88 profile image

    Leah J. Hileman 6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

    Such a good idea for a lens, and you put tons of effort into researching all the books and other tools. Thanks! One self-portrait thing I tried and enjoyed was messing around with coloring settngs, like black & white or sepia tones for the shot.

  • BenJacklin LM profile image

    BenJacklin LM 6 years ago

    Cool lens from a fellow 'tog!

  • satto76 profile image

    satto76 6 years ago

    Wonderful techniques. Anybody with little interest can follow this. Self portrait is a very fascinating idea.

  • sousababy profile image

    sousababy 6 years ago

    Thank you for the education on how to take a self portrait - I really needed some tips.

  • profile image

    tangy 6 years ago

    a great lens! :)

  • julescorriere profile image

    Jules Corriere 6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

    Terrific, informative lens. Thanks for sharing this! And I got to be like number 500!

  • profile image

    fullofshoes 6 years ago

    I'm horrible at taking pictures of myself or anything. I keep trying :) Great tips here, thank you.

  • profile image

    sse-im 6 years ago

    @videkpridek: At least it's harder to make duck face photos on a tripod ;-)

  • Rebeljohn profile image

    Rebeljohn 6 years ago

    Great info thanks

  • Edwardjames81 profile image

    Edwardjames81 6 years ago

    Some great tips and advice here, although I prefer to be behind the camera as opposed to in front of it.

  • profile image

    azD40x 6 years ago

    A definite reference for my client that want to use their portrait as book cover!

  • CherryTriggerCola profile image

    CherryTriggerCola 6 years ago

    Awesome lens and great information. Thanks for sharing.

  • profile image

    blondebecky 6 years ago

    i loved taking photos, so this would be something knew, thanks for a great write up :D

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