Taking your own outfit photos is difficult. But believe us when we say, it’s also incredibly rewarding! You get to be your own creative team: you’re the stylist, model, location scout, photographer… And while going it alone means there’s no-one to help you, that’s ok: because pretty soon you’ll be a pro at it, and you’ll have the freedom to shoot anywhere and anytime you want.
Here’s how to get started:
These days you can self-shoot on anything from a serious DSLR to an iPhone. Even without expensive equipment, all you need is a bit of creativity! Assuming you're using a digital camera, you'll want to invest in a wireless remote control and a tripod. Camera self-timers are great too, but a remote control saves you running back and forth too much. A tripod gives you the freedom to set up your camera in any spot you choose and will allow either portrait or landscape shots.
If you're using any kind of digital camera also think about lenses. For portraits, something like a 50mm works great, but if you're travelling to gorgeous corners of the world and want to show off more of the landscapes in your shots, carry a wider angle lens that fits more into the frame.
Plain white walls may not be that interesting, but they're a great place to start. A clean backdrop allows you to focus on getting everything else right and to experiment without pressure. Once you’re comfortable with the shooting part and decide to branch out into different locations, do keep in mind:
Search out a backdrop with colors that either complement or contrast your look. For example, you might shoot a yellow outfit against a pink wall for a pretty contrast. Compliments can work by finding elements in a landscape that match your look without camouflaging it. An example might be wearing a red dress in a street scene featuring a bright red stop sign. The sign will provide a visual compliment, without the dress blending into the landscape.
Thematic compliments and contrasts are something to think about too. A chic dress could be shot in a beautiful garden - or an edgy city backstreet. Sometimes it's the unexpected contrast that works the best.
When you're shooting your own portraits, location becomes a lot trickier. It's difficult to get a snap of you sitting at your favourite cafe, or in a busy street. Choose locations that offer you some privacy and room to move, and aim to shoot outside of business hours if in a busy area. If you're setting up expensive equipment on a tripod, make sure you can keep an eye on it at all times. Try for closed-off areas where passersby can't grab your equipment and run in the opposite direction!
Turn your face into the light and avoid positioning a strong sun behind you, otherwise, you'll come out underexposed. The midday sun when at its peak is also a harsh light to shoot in because it creates a lot of shadows.
For truly gorgeous shots, aim to be outside during "golden hour" - the magical hour just after the sun rises and just before it sets. This light is softer, dreamier and, yes, more golden. There's a reason photographers love it so much!
The beauty of self-portraiture is that you can really take the time to learn about yourself and find out what works for you. Pose, pose, pose! Check how it looks and then pose again. Think about what it is you want to draw attention to and change your pose accordingly. The back of an outfit? Try looking over your shoulder while walking away. The movement of a skirt? Spin! Regardless of your pose, one of the best things you can do is be natural. Forget about whatever is going on around you (even if you draw a crowd of spectators!) — just have fun and try not to be self-conscious.
Your camera settings will depend a lot on your equipment type, situation, and skill level — so while we can’t cover everything, here are some key tips to get you started.
DEPTH OF FIELD
Portraits can look more magical with a shallow depth of field in order to blur the background and make the subject stand out more. The depth of field is controlled by the aperture setting and is typically referenced as f-stop and can be preceded with an "f" or "f/". Setting the aperture to 1.2, your subject will be in sharp focus and the background very blurred. If it's set to 8.0 that means a deeper depth of field: your background will be fairly focused. This is what you'll want if you're trying to capture more of the backdrop and setting. If you really want to focus on you, go for the blurred background (shallow depth of field).
If you're taking a moving shot (like walking or giving your cute new dress a twirl) you'll need the right settings for it. A faster shutter speed will help you get the shot clearly (if you're not into geeky camera stuff, think of it this way: the longer the shutter is open, the more of your movement it will catch, which in this case means more blurring. If the shutter opens and closes super fast, you'll get a crisp photo even if you're moving.)
When it comes to exposure, focus, temperature and everything else, don't be afraid to go for auto as most cameras will do a pretty good job. This is especially true of auto-focus: rarely should you need to use a manual focus, as this highly difficult to do when you're playing the role of both photographer and subject at the same time! Autofocusing will mean that if you move away from the one spot, the camera will automatically adjust its settings to keep you in focus.
Not a master retoucher? No problem! Even a basic understanding of software like Photoshop or Lightroom can make a world of difference in correcting things like exposure and contrast. Once you have your basic shot sorted, take it to the next level by adding photo effects like vibrant, saturated colours or a dreamy, nostalgic haze. You don’t need to spend hours learning how to do this — just grab yourself some pre-made filters or Lightroom presets and you can apply them at the click of a button! You don’t have to spend hours editing: invest in just a few of the right tools and your photos will truly shine.
Dreamy Presets |