6 tips for great self portraits

You may not have noticed, but I've been doing a bit of rearranging and tidying up around here lately. I have a new About page. Added some photography galleries. Cleaned up my Pinterest boards. Tagged all my photos on the blog. Lots of administrivia. More to come too.
   
You know how it is - you start a blog and as you write over a few months, you get in a groove and find your style, both visually and verbally. Then as you check out your blog's format and the structure, it MIGHT just need a bit of this and that to reflect what your blog is all about. Some tweaking is in order.
    
I want to talk to you today about the self portrait. We all need a good shot for our About page. Think about someone zooming through a few new blogs that they have found - and think about whether your photo fits your blog's style. Does it tell them at a glance who you are? Is it an effective visual of your About description?
   
I needed a new photo for my About page. Badly. I have gone through a few avatars and photos in the past few months and none of them have really captured my personality. Or at least captured it in a way that I liked. I had the photo with the largest forehead known to mankind. And the frumpy one too. Time for something new!
    
"But Sandra", you ask, "how can you take your own photo? I don't have a studio. I don't have a photographer to take the shot." Well, neither do I. I'm new to this too but here's what I suggest.
   
1. Find a place with good natural light
   
I take my portrait photos in the reading nook. Doesn't that sound fancy? We're like that over here. 
   
It's really the landing at the top of the stairs that is too small to be anything else but a place to sit and read. It's north facing but it does end up with a lot of diffused light from the cloud cover that is a permanent fixture in the Pacific Northwest.
   
You don't want the middle of the day - the light is too bright and your shadows will be too sharp. 
   
Stand so that you are getting side lit (light coming from your right or your left) - that's the most flattering.
   
 
    
     
2. Use a tripod to keep the focus sharp
 
I set up the campera on a tripod. You really do need a tripod to make sure that it stays still.
   
(And if you are going to be taking some food shots, get one of those tripods that has the swinging arm to get overhead shots. Unfortunately this will be a bit of an investment - you want a light tripod too).

   
           
3. Use a remote trigger

The remote trigger is a g-dsend. And it isn't outrageously expensive either. Here's the one that I use for my camera. Yes, you can set the self timer and then run back and pose but you will have a difficult time hitting the same place. Remember, you'll be taking a LOT of shots til you get the one that you like.
   
(I have a Nikon not because I am so wise about cameras but because it's my husband's camera and I am not going to go out and buy something new. Kinda like, hey I need a pencil - this one'll work!)
   
   
4. Take some practice shots to figure out how high to put the tripod.
   
Adjust up or down accordingly. Also, when you check your shots, make sure that you aren't standing in front of a plant or something else that'll look like it's growing out of the top of your head. Remember where you stood. You might even put a piece of masking tape down to stand behind. (<---- old theater trick)
   
5. Focus on the tripod
      
"Sandra, but how can I focus?" Well, stand where you will be in the shot WITH your camera and focus on the tripod. Then put your camera back onto the tripod without changing the focus. Isn't that a cool trick?
   
   

6. Take a bunch of shots.
    
A lot. More than you think.
   
You know how you are meant to write your blog posts to a specific person to make sure that your voices stays consistently yours? Same thing with the self portrait.
   
Whether you are looking into the camera or away from it, pretend you are looking at someone that you love. Fill your head with fun, happy thoughts. And press that button. Trust me, you'll look WAY more relaxed and natural.
    
Here are my final ones that I was happy with. I made a collage for my About page and also used the side view in black and white for my avatar for Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

   
So there you go - self portraits when you don't have the studio and the assistants. How about you? Any other tips?