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:
Computer with image editing software
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.
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!
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.
- Attractive Female Posing Ideas for Girls and Women
This link is for working with digital models to make them look their best -- but the advice is based on the real thing: women like you! Photographers know how to angle your head and body to bring out your best features. Now you can share their secret
- Tips for Male Poses with a Masculine Edge
Guys, you don't want to follow advice that's meant for women. After all, the whole point of it is to enhance their femininity. Find out how photographers pose male models, and put that advice to work for you!
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.
- 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
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
For more ideas on taking a self-portrait with your camera, try these websites
- How To Buy A Digital Camera for Self-Portraits
Some advice on the features to look for in your camera, if you want to take pictures of yourself.
- Through the Gadling Lens: self-portraits
Although I don't recommend the mirror technique, there's some creative uses of it in this blog post.
- I'm ready for my closeup: 6 methods for perfectly focused self-portraits
Great tips for staying in focus during your self-portrait photoshoot.
- Avoid the Duck Face
I've had a couple of comments about people making the duck face (thanks, guys) so had to add this one. Not a good look.
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!
queenofbeauty on March 25, 2014:
Love the tips. Will put them to good use for some of my clients.
blestman lm on March 06, 2014:
Very rich lens. Thorough, detailed and well researched. Thank you for sharing your expertise.
yoursfoolie on March 05, 2014:
So THAT'S why I always seemed to have a bigger nose and more chins when I took my own picture... Thanks!
AnonymousC831 from Kentucky on March 01, 2014:
Great lens, very detailed.
TanjaCrouch on November 14, 2013:
Loved the tip about leaning into the camera. I always did the opposite. Thanks.
Peter Messerschmidt from Port Townsend, WA, USA on August 06, 2013:
Cool article! Most "selfies" just SCREAM "I took this myself!" There's a lot of useful stuff here...
Doc_Holliday on August 05, 2013:
I'm going to have to give this a go.
adiehltwin on June 22, 2013:
The tips on posing are excellent, thank you!
clevergirlname on June 14, 2013:
Very well put together!!!!
TapIn2U on May 22, 2013:
That was easy. Thank you for the tips! Sundae ;-)
Jordan on April 20, 2013:
I Used the camera's timer option with a tripod. It works good! Nice lens on a how to!
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on April 19, 2013:
@donnetted: Teens are naturally good at being vain. :) You got a good shot for your avatar in any case.
Donnette Davis from South Africa on April 19, 2013:
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 on April 09, 2013:
Great ideas. Thanks for the lens.
GrimRascal from Overlord's Castle on April 07, 2013:
Vanity at its finest. Hehe, great lens.
Birthday Wishes from Here on April 03, 2013:
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!
Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on March 10, 2013:
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 on March 08, 2013:
Great lens, and now I know how to take a pic of myself.
Vikki from US on January 27, 2013:
My daughter takes amazing photos of herself; I'm always impressed with what she can do. Just stopping back in with a blessing ;)
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on January 13, 2013:
@Wendy Leanne: Nice work, and shows that sometimes you can get great results even handheld.
Wendy Leanne from Texas on January 12, 2013:
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 on January 12, 2013:
Nice lens with some good tips on photography. The dual view camera is a plus. Thanks for sharing. (^_-)
TedWritesStuff on December 25, 2012:
Have hundreds of wacky self portraits.. No more I say ;-)
anonymous on December 11, 2012:
Great lens! But you're giving away some of our best kept secrets! Lol
askformore lm on November 23, 2012:
Thank you for these great tips. I have a lot to learn!
anticruelty on November 22, 2012:
@indigoj: Believe me, men can be at least as vain as most women! Excellent post, and lovely self-portrait shots.
bilafond lm on November 07, 2012:
Very good tips. Dual view should be my next buy. Thank you so much for so much of information.
anonymous on October 19, 2012:
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...
Susan R. Davis from Vancouver on October 16, 2012:
Those dual view cameras are cool. I'd never seen them before.
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on October 07, 2012:
@blancaverome: If it works, why not?! :) I use it quite a bit too.
blancaverome on October 04, 2012:
Great tips! I personally use the bent arm trick, lol.
Merstarr on September 24, 2012:
Great tips. Thanks :)
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on September 13, 2012:
@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.
Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on September 13, 2012:
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.
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on September 13, 2012:
@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.
Tea Pixie on September 11, 2012:
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.
Spiderlily321 on September 10, 2012:
Great job on this lens. Thank you for sharing
WriterJanis2 on September 06, 2012:
Great photo tips.
Jogalog on September 05, 2012:
Really useful advice, especially for someone like me who justs points and shoots but should really try to improve.
Satha on September 04, 2012:
Some nice tips! I need to take some new photos of myself soon, so this lens is pretty useful. :D
MimayManalo on August 29, 2012:
that was nice! gonna bookmark this lens, very useful :) very good source.
anonymous on August 22, 2012:
RichLeighHD on August 20, 2012:
Brilliant lens; a lot of incredibly useful advice!
Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on August 19, 2012:
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 on July 31, 2012:
really nice lens, well done, im inspired.
kburns421 lm on July 25, 2012:
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.
Rose Jones on July 24, 2012:
I am very inspired by this! Wonderful lens - you obviously know what you are talking about - Squid Angel Blessed.
Tia Novak on July 18, 2012:
I usually don't take photos of myself but I love to take photos of other people.
Melissa Miotke from Arizona on July 14, 2012:
I don't think I have anything to add-I think you covered it. This was a great lens!
pinkrenegade lm on July 11, 2012:
Thanks for the useful information.
Indigo Janson (author) from UK on July 10, 2012:
@poptastic: Ah, but you always draw the best self portraits, who needs a camera with talent like that? :)
Cynthia Arre from Quezon City on July 10, 2012:
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 on July 05, 2012:
This was very helpful, I will need to try this out.
sandi_x on June 23, 2012:
Great tips, thanks
funiworks on June 15, 2012:
Yours is indeed a professionally written lens. Thanks for all your tips. Can't wait to try them.
bwet on June 14, 2012:
awesome tips... for me it is pretty much trial and error and a lot of camwhoring.. haha
anonymous on June 12, 2012:
I would like to this cool lens with my friends on Facebook, thanks for sharing.
JennySui on May 29, 2012:
Excellent lens! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
wolvyz on May 28, 2012:
I think that your tips are Legendary.
RuralFloridaLiving on May 28, 2012:
Love your lens - you give us good information here!
photographycoursefanatic1 on May 24, 2012:
jammarti on May 16, 2012:
Great tips! Ell organized and detailed. I should apply those tips personally. :D
cabletiesandmore on May 09, 2012:
such a detail about self portrait photography ! Rare lens ! Whatever I say will be less. Great !!
crbphotography on May 08, 2012:
Very well organized with lots of great tips!
Joy Neasley from Nashville, TN on May 07, 2012:
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 on May 04, 2012:
This lens is both beautiful and useful, very extensive tips on self portraiit, thanks for sharing your expertise.
Michey LM on April 29, 2012:
Important info Thanks
TwylaN LM on April 27, 2012:
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 from U.S.A. on April 23, 2012:
Very informative, and very well done. I enjoyed my visit! :)
JoyfulReviewer on April 23, 2012:
Thanks for the very helpful tips. Have bookmarked your lens for future reference. Blessed.
SteveKaye on April 22, 2012:
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.
hexadtraining on April 13, 2012:
I know lots who like taking self pics. I will definitely share that with them!!!
TMimzy on April 13, 2012:
Great content, love it! :)
wrapitup4me on April 13, 2012:
Great presentation. So helpful.
troybreimon lm on April 09, 2012:
very good lens wordcustard :)
anonymous on April 09, 2012:
Tons of useful photographic info. This lens serves as a great primer for novice and experienced photographers alike.
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on April 06, 2012:
Thanks for the great tips for taking a self-portrait.
anonymous on April 04, 2012:
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 from Ireland on April 01, 2012:
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.
mikelennonphotography on March 29, 2012:
Really interesting lens packed full of info! Thanks!
MindPowerProofs1 on March 29, 2012:
Just in time, I need to take a self portrait. Thanks for the tips. I will do my best
anonymous on March 18, 2012:
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.
Gala98 on March 10, 2012:
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 on March 01, 2012:
That was a very helpful lens, I'm going to go get my camera now!
TTMall on February 28, 2012:
Very informative lens. Well done!
cajkovska lm on February 24, 2012:
Nice lens and good tips... Thank you!
jadp27 on February 23, 2012:
very interesting lens!
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on February 17, 2012:
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 on February 15, 2012:
Cool lens from a fellow 'tog!
satto76 on February 15, 2012:
Wonderful techniques. Anybody with little interest can follow this. Self portrait is a very fascinating idea.
sousababy on February 14, 2012:
Thank you for the education on how to take a self portrait - I really needed some tips.
tangy on February 14, 2012:
a great lens! :)
Jules Corriere from Jonesborough TN on February 09, 2012:
Terrific, informative lens. Thanks for sharing this! And I got to be like number 500!
fullofshoes on February 06, 2012:
I'm horrible at taking pictures of myself or anything. I keep trying :) Great tips here, thank you.
sse-im on February 01, 2012:
@videkpridek: At least it's harder to make duck face photos on a tripod ;-)
Rebeljohn on January 28, 2012:
Great info thanks
Edwardjames81 on January 28, 2012:
Some great tips and advice here, although I prefer to be behind the camera as opposed to in front of it.
azD40x on January 27, 2012:
A definite reference for my client that want to use their portrait as book cover!
CherryTriggerCola on January 27, 2012:
Awesome lens and great information. Thanks for sharing.
blondebecky on January 27, 2012:
i loved taking photos, so this would be something knew, thanks for a great write up :D