In order to snap a natural-looking, candid shot, it helps if your subject is either: (a) unaware you are taking a picture, or (b) very comfortable with you as a photographer. Well, both of these criteria are non-existent when you’re taking self-portraits and realize you feel: self-conscious, awkward, and a little too narcissistic or self-indulgent taking pictures of yourself. Here are my quick tips to avoiding stiff, overly-posed pictures.
We’ve all seen them before: awkward-looking, overly-posed pictures that people snap of themselves. The signature signs are: a practiced smile and arms visibly holding the camera far enough away to catch some background in the shot.
It’s not really what most people would be proud to call a self-portrait, but when you suffer from self-portrait “stage-fright,” like I do…sometimes it’s the best you can do. I start to feel self-conscious, awkward, and a little too narcissistic or self-indulgent when I start taking pictures of myself. So, If you’re like me, I have some simple tips that will help set the tone for more natural, relaxed-looking, and interesting images.
All you need is:
- A camera
- An open state of mind
Self portraits have a lot to do with your state of mind at the moment of capturing the image. I usually avoid taking them because I start to feel clumsy, stiff, and begin thinking WAY too much about what I’m going to look like in the picture. During these moments, I’ve found it beneficial to distract myself from the fact that I’m the subject of the picture, and shift my attention to other things like:
-Props/objects I’m using in the picture (like sunglasses)
-Camera filters and fun effects I’m trying to experiment with (multiple exposure, colorsplash, lighting, etc)
Other times, it’s as simple as putting my focus on an completing an action and randomly snapping a picture in the middle of it. Like in the two images below. In one I’m focusing on shifting the camera around and, in the other, I’m focusing on tucking my hair behind my ear.
Because I took these pictures with an Oktomat (http://usa.shop.lomography.com/cameras/multilens-cameras/oktomat) you can see the sequence of events, but you don’t need a multi-lens camera to do this. I mean, any single frame of these two pictures probably looks more natural and interesting than the picture at the top of this post. The difference? I put my mental focus on movements or on having fun with my cameras. It sounds silly, but it really is that simple. This mental shift gives me freedom, makes things more fun, and takes the pressure off because I’m not worrying about producing a “good” self portrait. Anyhow, that’s how I change my state of mind when I’m lose sight of those “10 golden rules” and begin to over-thinking things. What are your strategies? I’d love to see the kind of self-portraits they led to!