I’m finally ready to start posting the results from the 30 Day Photography Challenge from Expert Photography. The first challenge was more daunting than I anticipated!
Since I’m using this challenge and set of tutorials to focus on my photography skills, I decided to post each challenge individually, as I shoot. I’m already learning a lot about the basics and challenging myself to step outside my comfort zone. And what a better way to kick things off than to get super personal with a Self Portrait.
The first tutorial talks about how Self Portraits should be easy but often become complicated by self conscience photographers. I’ve struggled my whole life with vanity and appearance (as I assume almost everyone else has too, whether they admit it or not.) I’m a lot more comfortable with it now that I just accept it as human nature. For the purpose of this challenge, I wanted to work on taking more naturalistic photos. Sometimes I like to set up a shoot, but in general and especially when shooting people, I don’t find it feasible to have a lot of control. I’ll break down Expert Photography’s tips for crafting a Self-Portrait and how I decided on my shoot.
LOCATION OF SELF PORTRAITS
Where do you want your photo to be taken, and what do you want it to say about you? Has something happened in your life recently, that you feel like you could represent in a photo?
Think about how you can give a little bit of information about yourself in your photos, and then use it.
I thought this part of the exercise would be easy to nail down but the more I looked around the house the more I realized how slim my options were. I wanted a plain background, privacy and natural light. It had been raining all week so most of my outdoor options were out. As I searched the house I found that the bedroom actually had everything I needed so I decided to go from there.
FIND YOUR BEST ANGLE
Yeah, I went there. It seems like some sort of a joke, but it’s best to find which side looks best, after all, faces aren’t as symmetric as they appear.
I’m still not sure what my best angle is so I decided on something unique for this shoot. I thought that focusing the camera from a different perspective would make the photos feel less like a selfie and more like a brief, third party glimpse at my life.
WHERE TO PUT THE CAMERA
Tripod or handheld, that’s the main question.
I went with Tripod, again to combat the selfie feel. I have far too many old Myspace photos where I perfected that art.
WHERE TO LOOK
Consider eye-lines and what they do for your photos. Where do you want people to look, at you, or somewhere else? If you look straight into the camera, you create eye contact with the viewer, but if you look away, they will follow your eyes and look in the same direction.
Holy shit, I had a hard time with this one. Initially, I took a lot of photos that looked so staged that it creeped me out. Eventually, I re-read the article for tips and decided to just try out what felt the most natural in the moment.
I’ve talked about revealing a part of yourself with your location, but what about with your emotions? You could be super happy with a new partner, scared in a house of horrors, excited at an amusement park, drunk on a night out…
Emotion is powerful, so there’s no need to go too overboard. This isn’t drama school.
Once I took this piece of advice more seriously I instantly connected more with the photos I was taking. I knew that I wanted to take something that was stripped down and felt like a more accurate portrayal of me. I didn’t want to feign an over exuberant smile considering I was shooting after work, mid-week and not exactly full of energy. I decided to wear exactly what I wore to work that day including the same makeup and pulled back hair. I’ve gained more confidence recently about how I look and feel so I wanted to celebrate that by taking photos of myself at what I once would have considered my most “boring.” A few years ago, I wouldn’t have considered photographing myself without primping first so I take this as a small but important win.
So here are my final results. I think the first three are a great representation of how I was feeling going into the portraits and how I feel most often in my day to day: content but a bit tired; slightly overworked but eager to learn.
After I reviewed the first set of photos I was so pleased with how they turned out. It wasn’t anything fancy but it felt so right. I switched to a different position for the second half to capture better light and was clearly having a lot more fun at that point. Ellie even came in and started to jump around causing my second photo laugh.
Look for more 30 Day Photography Challenge posts throughout the month
& here’s the full list of what you can expect from the challenge: