Challenge Yourself to Some Self-Portraits

There are times when I've wanted to photograph people, but haven't had any around to flex my photographic skills. That's when I've been able to turn to a subject that's always available and willing to work on my schedule: me.

That's also the case for photographer and filmmaker Hayden Pedersen, who challenged himself to produce a series of portraits using his Sony a7S II and found objects in his home. He vlogs about the process on YouTube, and the results are pretty interesting.

Using easily available household items, such as a colander, a snow globe, some candles, and interesting glasses, he produces a unique series of portraits that are surprisingly professional-looking, given the circumstances that he was shooting under. He even tried out some double-exposures, an oft-forgotten feature found on many modern cameras.

While he was shooting his photos using the self-timer function of his camera, I'll add some things that have helped me create some self-portraits of my own. The best piece of advice I’d have to offer is to take advantage of camera manufacturers' apps on cell phones. It takes the painful waiting out of the process to be able to trigger the camera from an app. Even if you set a self-timer on a camera to two or three seconds, you still have to pose, which makes using the app easier. Some apps even allow for the self-timer feature from your phone, giving you time to pose and then toss the phone out of the shot. Unfortunately, not all apps offer this across all platforms. I was a bit surprised, for instance, to see that Nikon's Wireless Mobile Utility offers a self-timer for my Nikon D750 on iOS, but I could not readily find the same functionality on the Android version for my Google Pixel 3a XL.

Another advantage of using an app instead of the self-timer is the ability to focus where you want to. Sometimes, the camera won't grab focus on what you want it to, or you'll want something other than your face in focus, and being able to choose where to focus via a phone’s touchscreen works wonders. Even my D750 doesn't have a touchscreen, so it's a nice feature to have.

And it goes without saying (and Pedersen does briefly say it), but a tripod is a wonderful accessory to use so that you're not balancing on DVDs and your wallet as he does in the video.

I took a stab at the whole self-portrait thing not that long ago and decided to do some practice with some external lighting to produce silhouettes, something I don't normally go for when I'm using flash. It was an interesting challenge, and like Pedersen, I tried to add some interesting graphic design elements to come up with this:

What I came up with challenging myself to make an interesting self-portrait.

What I came up with challenging myself to make an interesting self-portrait.

What do you think? I was using an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 Lens with a Godox TT350O Mini Thinklite TTL Flash providing the light. Have you created any interesting self-portraits of your own? Share them in the comments below.

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9 Comments

Brad MacMillan's picture

I just recently did some self portraits to work on some low key lighting and practice with some lighting. Nabbed this shot out of that day. Actually pretty happy with it. Very minimal post done in this as well.

Mary Bel's picture

I like to have fun doing self portraits. Its actually a great way to express yourself, and I find it very therapeutic. Please check out more of my "selfies" in my bio...

Mary Bel's picture

Ha! Ive turned myself into the painting "Saint. Jerome Writing" as an homage to Caravaggio. Just have fun and let your imaginagion run!

2ndshotphotos's picture

photos taken with #Olympus OM-D E-M5 & M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8 @ F5.6 1/15s ISO800 25mm with a #Tiffen Vari-Burst Filter If you can appreciate this #selfportrait will you #buymeacoffee and support my vision https://buymeacoffee.com/woctxphotog For more visit https://2ndshot.photos/my-self-portraits/

Fred Teifeld's picture

Agreed! If I'm between gigs I'll do some kind of goofing around or when I've gotten a new modifier or just when I'm bored.

I've had a lot of fun doing it.

Geez. You are all so much better looking than me. I won't even do a video chat. Too doggone ugly.

Patrick Weichmann's picture

I tried doing some self portraits a few times now, i always enjoy the process of setting up different lights and modifiers, learning different lighting modes and all that comes with it. Here is one of the more recent ones, nothing special but i like the result.

Albert Wojciechowski's picture

After doing portraits of so many of family and friends I thought it was about time I did one of myself. Halogen bare bulb as main with reflector for fill. I normally use LED lighting but for this one it was an easy no-brainer for B&W

Matt Day's picture

I shot my profile picture as a self portrait, mainly as i was a bit concerned what a model might think if i asked them to sit in the bath in the dark while i poured water over their head. I had a snooted speedlight off camera and my right hand is firing the remote while the left one pours a jug.