How to Take Epic Selfies (Like a Professional Photographer)

Using the long lens to make epic self-portraits is both fun and fascinating. In this video, I will share all my techniques for obtaining these extreme perspectives.

As a professional landscape photographer, I often travel on my own, and if I want to take a portrait photo of myself or use myself as a scale in the landscape, I use this technique. I wanted to show this in an epic landscape, but as I am stuck in Denmark due to the coronavirus, I had to think outside of the box. I decided instead to take the drive down to the most massive structure I could think of in Denmark: The Great Belt Bridge (DK: Storebæltbroen). In the video, I share my techniques to photograph these epic perspectives. In this particular case and in most cases, you need a telephoto lens. I use my 100-400 mm and occasionally the 2x extender to get the photo, but in certain situations, you can make do with a standard zoom. It depends on the scene. I also show how I prefer to pose in these scenes. I think it is essential to have a proper pose if you decide to include yourself in a landscape. When you are tiny, the posture of your body is the only thing that signals how you engage with the view. If you stand with the hands in the pockets, it can quickly come off as if you do not want to be there. 

It is also important to mention that relative to where you live, you should probably bring a friend to hit the shutter. You do not want to leave your camera behind in sketchy locations.

Check out the video above, and let me know if you learned something.

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17 Comments

Jordan McChesney's picture

I think the burning question on everyone’s mind is “were you doing ‘duckface’?”

David Medeiros's picture

This is bound to be an unpopular opinion here, but I honestly don't understand why it is so popular to put yourself, or anyone else, into these poses in a photograph. To me it always comes across as extremely contrived. The tiny figures are almost always a visual distraction not a compliment to the landscapes they pose in. I'm sure I have an outdated view of what a pro photographer is or aspires to, and not all pros are looking to make images that they expect others will want to hang on a wall, but that's always my first thought when I see an otherwise great image with the photographer standing in it... I wouldn't hang that on my wall.

David Medeiros's picture

I think that's part of the contrived feel these images have. A person in a static and predictable pose, just for scale. I do like images with people in them, but they are usually a stronger part of the scene, and hopefully a natural one as well. Industrial or agricultural scenes with workers for instance. Even very similar images to the ones Mads is talking about, but with natural figures in them, like a line of hikers along a trail etc. In these cases they tell part of the story of the image as opposed to just being human rulers! BTW, I do just what you described as well, sneak shots without people in them, or more often with my kids, take lots of pics of them in activity, and almost never asking them to stop and smile for the camera!

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

I don't think it is an outdated view, David. I have it myself often. It depends on the scene and situation. Personally I'd probably prefer to hang the very last photo I show in the video on my wall, however, the other photos certainly have their time and place too. A lot of people asked how I make these kind of photos so I put a video together.

Leigh Lofgren's picture

I really enjoyed your video and seeing your beautiful images. I only use my 14mm lens for certain landscapes and in the most part, do exactly what you are saying. I also agree that it works well to put a person in a scene to add scale and really wonderful to watch. Will be getting your downloaded version and thank you again.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

You're very welcome, Leigh! :)

Deleted Account's picture

Awesome tips. So while you are shooting a photographs you need to take care of the distance between position and camera is also important. Nice tips and videos.

Thanks Danish

Roderique Arisiaman's picture

awesome vid. I always wondered how these photo's where made. My main anxiety here is always, how can you leave your camera unguarded like that.. but I guess that's just me being paranoid and coming from a densely populated country.
Thank you for the video and I do love the way these photo's convey scale and epicness.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Yeah, of course, you always need to take that into consideration. Denmark is fairly safe (still) and if you're way out in the middle of nowhere there is little to no risk involved in it :)
However, don't attempt this in San Francisco ;)

These kind of shots look pretty cool but if you share one there's a 99% chance that if you share one you'll end up on Instarepeat.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Free exposure ;D I've shared loads of these kinds of photos but for some reason never managed to hit insta_repeat. I think insta_repeat require that the locations are also the same ;)

Piotr Maksymowicz's picture

Yeah because professional photographers take selfies with dslrs :D

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Shoot! I really fucked this one up using a mirrorless... :D

Catherine Bowlene's picture

Good video, thanks for sharing!

Pedro Quintela's picture

Nice one.

Dave Dundas's picture

You seem really far away, did you have an assistant, or how did you remote trigger over that distance? Or was this on a timer, and you ran down there like a madman first? lol