While You Are Isolating, Why Not Use This Time to Practice Self-Portraits?

While You Are Isolating, Why Not Use This Time to Practice Self-Portraits?

If you are a social photographer, it's very likely you're not shooting much during the self-isolation time. So, why not use the most challenging but also interesting subject there is, namely, yourself? 

If you want to give yourself a simple monthly project that you can easily do at home, consider shooting self-portraits. While we are unable to go out and work face to face with subjects that we are used to shooting, you can challenge yourself to produce one self-portrait a day for a month. The hard part is working with yourself every day and finding ways to shoot around your home, but that's exactly why this project is a great way to bring some creativity back into your life without even leaving your home.

An implied nude of a woman laying on the bed.

Use self-portraits to allow yourself to experiment, be creative and weird, and do it all without any judgement.

One may argue that it is easier to shoot others than yourself. The minute you start shooting yourself, you don't become just critical of your skills as a photographer, but you also start noticing things about your expressions, your body language, and whether your face and body are working in sync with each other. It is easy to fall in a trap of creating images that show you, as a model, in the best light, but it can help you grow if you also embrace your uniqueness and other qualities that you may consider as unwelcome. We all have certain parts of ourselves that we do not feel confident about, but shooting yourself from every angle possible will give you an opportunity to learn to love yourself as a whole and to discover something new about yourself, too. 

A back view of a dark haired girl.

I found that a lot of times I end up shooting anonymous self-portraits.

You don't necessarily need to show your face, and you certainly don't need to create elaborate outfits or complex scenes. Unless it's something you are already passionate about, I would recommend embracing simplicity. Look around your home and find small parts of it that can help you create an image every day for a month. Use different backgrounds to incorporate yourself in various scenes or focus on small details, such as your hands or a wisp of your hair. Don't immediately reach for that typical headshot; instead, try to introduce variety and different angles in your compositions. 

A shadow of a hand on a white wal.

Try different compositions - you don't always need to resort back to the "safe" headshot or portrait.

Personally, I find that doing simple self-portraits can be very therapeutic, especially during such a stressful and uncertain time. I use it as a brief break away from everything, and it gives me a reason to actively and consciously enjoy spending time by myself. I don't choose to portray any particular emotions every time but rather let the moment take me wherever it goes. If I see a beautiful strip of sunlight shining on my wall, I will grab my camera and create something. I don't always know what it's going to be, but I enjoy the process, even if it takes only five minutes.

Will you try self-portraits this month?

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2 Comments

Miha Me's picture

I'm already on it!

Sean Shimmel's picture

Thank you for this refreshingly simple inspiration