Tips for Great Self-Portraiture

Let's get this straight; selfies are not the same thing as self-portraiture. Self-Portraiture is an art form.  Selfies are quick snaps. Selfies are easier to accomplish while self-portraits take planning and vision.

Luckily for you all I don't do much of either if at all. I asked a long time mobile photographer friend of mine, Kristie Michelle, to give you all some guidelines on how she has mastered this genre.  Her weapons of choice have been iPhone 4, iPhone 6, and most recently the iPhone 6S. She uses a Joby tripod, and her go to editing apps are Mextures, Snapseed, VSCO, PaintFX, RNI  Films, Tadaa, and Handy Photo.  

In 2015, she was a featured artist during the Mobile Photo Now exhibit in Columbus, Ohio. Check out her tips and more importantly check out her work on her social platforms; Instagram / Flickr / Facebook.

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Kristie Michele Art Photography

Lighting is your friend. Natural lighting is your best friend, and you love it with all your heart. With proper lighting, whether it is indoor/outdoor, natural/studio, it can make or break a photo. It creates depth to your images, makes for great shadow play, and can change an entire shot.

The best time, to make use of natural light is in the morning, or early evening around sunset time. Better known as the "Golden Hours". You don't want the harsh light of the sun at high noon. A more soft and delicate approach is best for ​self-portraits. Of course, with studio lighting, any time is a good time.

Here's an extra tip: the use of a sheer curtain, over a window, acts as a diffuser for natural light and will soften it. More »

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COMPOSITION

Kristie Michele Art Photography

Composition is key! You can always use the "Rule of Thirds", but it's also fun to think outside the box. Always be aware of what is around you, hanging out in the background, etc. You can always use objects to your advantage, as long as it fits what you are trying to achieve with your image. Sometimes that plant or that lamp will look good in the background, and sometimes it might leave the viewer confused. "Is it supposed to be there? Did they realize it was back there?" If you are going to use props, having them strategically placed. Plan out your composition.

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Kristie Michele Art Photography

To me, this is just as important as lighting. Your self portraits should always convey some type of emotion, be it happy, sad, angry, overjoyed, mysterious, serious, sneaky, somber, silly….you get my point! Tell a story without having to say a word. Most of my self portraits are of a serious/somber nature, you hardly ever see me smiling. This does not mean I am not a happy person. This is art, after all. I feel with this type of portraiture, you get the best reaction from people, it tells the best stories. I generally will accompany my images with song lyrics or quotes I find. I will read or hear something I like, and then create an image to go along with it, or I will do a shoot, and then start the sometimes daunting task of searching for the perfect lyrics or quote to go with image, based on how I view it. Sometimes it takes me longer to find a match, than it does to do the portraits! These aren't just selfies. More »

Kristie Michele Art Photography

Find your niche. Something that will set you apart from others. You aren't the only one taking self-portraits, so make an impression! For me, it’s two things: First would be my moody somber portraits. I feel that these type of portraits make the most impact. They convey depth and emotion, which I always try to obtain with any of my portraits. They express so much, and I want to make the viewers feel something when they look at my portraits.  Second is something more on the fun side of self-portraits….my black and white legs series. Several years ago, I had posted a shot of my legs, edited in black and white. A friend of mine suggested, or challenged me really, to start a series on Instagram. I didn’t plan on it becoming my "thing" but it did. Over the years, I have had my followers tell me that they can recognize my legs before they even see my name. Now THAT'S signature! If you would like to have a look at what I think is a unique series, you can check out my hashtag on IG. #hoodkitty_bwlegs_series  There are almost 180 images in this series. More »

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ENJOY IT / HAVE MEANING / EXPAND YOUR ART

Kristie Michele Art Photography

Have fun! Enjoy what you do! As I said in tip #4, it's always great to have your "thing", but I think expanding your artistry and pushing your boundaries is something every artist should do. Experiment with different types of editing (there are SO MANY apps out there!), collaborate with other artists, get opinions from people who's opinions matter to you, trust in yourself and what you are putting out there, but also question yourself…"what do I want to say with this self portrait?". Give meaning behind what you do. Don't just take pictures for the sake of taking pictures. Photography, no matter what style you are doing, should always be fun, enjoyed, and have meaning to you.

Closing thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my tips and it gave some insight into self-portraiture. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have, in regards to mobile photography. I am always willing to share techniques, editing tips, and more!
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