To make a self-portrait is quite a difficult thing that takes time and introspective work. On the other hand to make a selfie takes just a second.
Describing yourself through an image always involves deep analysis and self-criticism. It is often simpler not to address the issue. However, it is when you free yourself from your limitations that you can claim to be free.
Self-acceptance and awareness of your limits is the starting point of every project.
The self-portrait is the psychological analysis of yourself made by fixing your somatic features and your gaze in the image.
Why it is important to practice Self Portrait photography?
Practicing this photographic genre is an opportunity that will enrich you and make you improve in photography. The self-portrait has always been present, first in painting, then in photography. It allows you to deepen your studies and the technical knowledge about photography and composition, but it also allows an intimate personal (re)search. Thanks to Self Portrait photography you can analyze the relationship you have with your image.
The self-portrait is an interesting genre of photography. The art of self-portraiture goes back centuries. Since the earliest, especially with the Renaissance (mid-15th century), we as humans loved to let other people know how we looked through art. Everything began with paintings and later continued through photography. Both can be called self-portraiture.
…and finally arrived the selfies
Today is the selfie age. It probably began with just a face. After this hundreds of thousands of faces, a big bang of self-portraits. The web was filled up with smiling people, then arrived the puckered lips. Later people posed three-quarters for more flattering images. Then arrived the hands and the fingers: thumb up, thumb down, the V of victory, and any kind of fingers. After hands and fingers arrived the legs. A lot of legs especially of people sunbathing on the beach, legs captured like würstels. And finally the booty. A lot of photographs of booties have been posted with a quote or a poem.
Self-Portrait vs Selfie
The self-portrait is not a selfie. Both are self-portraits but there is a notable difference. The one taken with the mobile phone camera can also be considered a self-portrait, however, some differences must be considered.
In the modern world, in which the selfie is a real obsession, at least 93 million selfies a day are discarded. More than a thousand-per-second selfie is uploaded and leads us to recognize ourselves only through the gaze of others. A kind of new way of experiencing your own body. With the selfie we passed from cogito ergo sum, the Cartesian I think therefore I am, to the modern videor ergo sum, I am seen therefore I am. Fortunately, the photographic portrait is something completely different, taken with a camera and not with that sort of extension of our body that is the mobile phone, which we no longer know how to live without.
The first difference between selfies and self-portraits is the purpose: the selfie is taken for the sole purpose of sharing, so it is faster and more immediate.
The photographic self-portrait taken with a camera, on the other hand, is, first of all, a study of yourself, it does not always or necessarily have the purpose of being shared.
Furthermore, the photographic self-portrait requires a study of the composition of the photograph, and attention to details such as the background, the lights, the pose, and the expression.
Precisely for this reason, it is not possible to improvise a photographic self-portrait, as we normally do with a selfie taken with a smartphone.
Most of the photographs shared online or just captured with a camera are about people. The reason is really easy to understand. When a person is present in a photo, this unknowingly attracts the attention of the beholder. For this reason, it is really important to learn how to photograph people and capture their essence.
With the self-portrait, you have a good opportunity to have at your disposal a subject who is happy to lend himself and is very patient: yourself. In this way, you will have all the time to practice and capture your own essence.
First of all the poses. It is difficult to immediately feel at ease in front of the camera. A photographer knows this theoretically, with a self-portrait he can experience it in his own skin. You need to relax: you are alone, and no one judges you. To start it is good to get comfortable with simple and natural poses. In a second moment, particular expressions can be experienced. In this way, emotions such as joy, anger, sadness, and so on can be communicated. Trying to pose for yourself will also teach you how to position people for better portraits with more effective poses.
You will learn how to make the most of ambient light, flash, and any additional lights. You will get to see how light helps you to convey a message. A soft, warm, subdued light conveys tranquility, a harder light on the contrary will convey greater drama to your photo.
In other words, the light is really important to make an interesting self-portrait. With light you can do everything, without it you can do nothing. Light can make interesting a boring subject, or can make boring and insignificant the most beautiful subject.
In your self-portrait you can add or subtract light, you can make the light warm or cold, and it can be pointed or bounced.
The settings of your camera are very important to better manage the depth of field that best suits your self-portrait. For example, if you want attention to focus on you, you will need to make sure that the depth of field is reduced to create a bokeh effect that isolates the subject and eliminates any distraction in the background. If, on the other hand, you want the background to become an integral part of the photograph you will need to set a greater depth of field.
Try to use a mirror
To make your own self-portrait you can use a mirror or you can put your camera on a tripod. Both are interesting ways to try, so you can have different results. You can make the self-portrait at home or outside, experimenting also different kinds of lights.
The background you will use in your self-portrait will be very interesting to analyze. In fact, it will help you say something about yourself. In this way, you will have an environmental self-portrait where your feelings and your personality can be explained thanks to the background. It can be your studio, your home, or a landscape.
Where to start to make your first self-portrait?
First of all, you will need to get comfortable in front of the mirror, observe yourself and relax. Relax your mouth, face, neck, and shoulders. Also, try to center the image of the face in the mirror.
To make a self-portrait is quite difficult because it is a way to discover yourself. You are looking at yourself from the outside, trying to understand your inside. To make a self-portrait is about your identity.
The self-portrait is also an attempt at vanity, it is you trying to leave a sign of your appearance.
Allow a few minutes just to look at yourself in the mirror. At first, you will notice only defects: one eye more open than the other or other facial asymmetries, wrinkles that you did not remember. A lot of things you see in the mirror are different from the image you have of yourself. The ears are too large, the skin of the neck is no anymore as elastic as before, and the crow’s feet are at the sides of the eyes. You can try to put three quarters to get a better effect, trying to soften the defects, but what you see still you do not like and time seems to make fun of you.
Try to overcome anxiety and shyness by focusing on the fact that you are alone, no one sees you, and you can take your time without any rush. Try to erase any image of yourself from your mind, just observe your reflection and how you have become.
You will find at least that you do not resemble how you thought you were, the image you had of yourself. In reality, you are much better: much more interesting, all those defects you had noticed compared to the mental image you had of yourself make you unique. They are essentially your story, other than Photoshop or Instagram filters! This is the real you and not an Avatar made by a filter of a social network.
This is the time to start making your own self-portrait, which is nothing more than psychological analysis of yourself by capturing your somatic features in an image. A photograph that was taken while courageously staring at your reflection and life without lowering your gaze. A must-have photo in which your image, on the other side, stares at you with courage.