Monday, 26 November 2012

Self Portraits….

Over the last year I have racked up more than 50 self portraits, for the less mathematically inclined of you that averages at more than 1 a week ;-)

So, why do I do it? Is it simply because I love the sight of my own face, or is there another reason? Read on to find out.

I am without a doubt, not the most photogenic  of individuals! Once I was referred to as “As ugly as a bulldog licking piss off a nettle”  So there must be a reason for all of my SP’s, because it certainly isn’t because I’m trying to launch a promising modelling career. (Unless someone wants to model a clothing line for bulldogs who are fond of piss covered nettles)  One reason is for Practice! It allows me to practice set-ups for lighting, poses, techniques  The images below are good examples, one is an exercise in using available window light. And the other was a to practice my “Low Key” portraits using a rim/hair light.

Doing this allows me to experiment, and know exactly what a given technique will produce. Weather it’s a shoot for someone else, or another SP, I can now clearly picture in my mind what an image will look like, and set up the necessary equipment a lot faster.

As well as helping me practice new techniques, they allow me to develop the style I like, the two images below are both “Standard” portrait set-ups, but I much prefer the dark low key shot. More of my SP’s are in this style than any other, mainly because I much prefer them, and find them very easy to envisage.

The second reason is kind of a side effect from doing SP’s in the first place. Some of my self portraits are far from the “Normal” posed portraits. Since doing so many, I have become far more comfortable in front of the camera, which in turn has allowed me to release some creativity. I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable asking other people to do some of the things I have. The images below are shots that would have cause strange looks if I had asked others to be involved.

And that’s the final point about selfies. You are working with a model who knows exactly where to stand, doesn’t mind how many times you cock it up, and doesn’t cost a penny to have on hire for several hours whilst you get frustrated and drink several gallons of coffee. :-)



  1. I'm at the end of my third year of the 365 self-portrait project and I agree. Doing the SPs was the best way for me to learn my camera, understand some settings, learn how to pose people properly and comfortably. It also expanded my skills in Photoshop by doing the cloning shots or "special effects".

  2. Good for you mate, pass on the greatness that is a Self Portrait.

    We're all tentative at first, I know I felt like a complete fool with my SP's to start with but then it gets easier and you start to relish it all!

    As you mention, cheap, willing and damn able model when you start to accept your SP role. You'll never be stuck because you'll always be available, the practice gained is invaluable and I think you become a better portrait photographer for it. If you can photograph yourself, you can photograph anyone.