Tips for Self-Portrait Photography

     As photographers, we all know how frustrating an uncooperative model is. No matter what, you will have the deepest understanding of the mood, concept, or emotion that you wish to exemplify in your photo or project. Therefore, making yourself a model is a practical and smart course of action in many situations. If you can get past your own insecurities and embarrassment over your own physical appearance, self-portraiture can be a blast. Here are some tips for self-portrait photography.

The photos included in this tutorial were shot by nineteen year old teen photographer Brian Oldham from South California. His self-portrait photography is simply fantastic, and on par with the top in the industry. He exemplifies everything that self-portrait photography is about: self-expression, courage, and self-discovery. Of course, your self-portraits don’t have to be nearly as dynamic as his.


Brian’s Top Five Tips for 

Successful Self-Portraits

TIP #1: Use a Remote Shutter

Using a remote will ensure that your photos are taken exactly when you want to. Many cameras have a 10-second timer if you don’t have a remote yet – but that’s a whole lot less precision than a remote offers. The majority of remotes are infra-red, and they’re very, very cheap. The Opteka off-brand versions have proven to be just fine for me – and they’re only eight bucks on Amazon.  They should prove fine, as long as you’re not miles away from your camera.

TIP #2: Get a Sturdy Tripod

You’re going to need a decent tripod to prop up your camera with. My recommendation is the Slik 700DX paired with a Manfrotto 496 RC2. It’s a cheap combo (only $150, very inexpensive for a pro-level tripod) that is super reliable. Make sure you get a quick release plate for easier transportation of your camera.

TIP #3: Focus Beforehand 

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Get an object or person at the exact place where you plan to stand in order to ensure that the focus is completely correct. If you have no companion with you to focus beforehand on, get anything – a stick, chair, etc – or any surrounding landmarks where you will stand, and autofocus on that. Then, switch to manual focus and remote shutter mode.

TIP #4: Prevent Wasted Time By Double-Checking

Running back to your camera repeatedly can be extremely cumbersome. Double check everything – white balance, shutter speed, ISO – then make sure your shutter speed mode is correctly set on remote. Get it right the first time, so that your photo shoot doesn’t turn into a frustrating fiasco.

TIP #5: Plan Ahead

Before you set off on your trip, make a list of everything that you have on a pad of paper or your cellphone: all props, equipment, etc. – so that nothing is left at home. Before you leave home on your shoot, take one quick photo with your camera. This will make sure that your CF/SD card, lens, camera, and battery are all functioning. Once your photos are done, double check your list in the car, and make sure you actually have all of your gear.

Brian’s photos are shot with a Canon 5D Mark iii, Canon 50mm f/1.4, and the Canon 70 – 200mm f/2.8. He’s using pro-level equipment, but that doesn’t mean you need high level gear to garner top shots.

All photos are property of Brian Oldham. Please contact him at <> for reproduction permissions.


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