A Step-By-Step Guide For Taking Self Portraits With A DSLR
taking photographs is my passion. it’s my way of freezing those everyday moments in time so that i can look back on my photographs and instantly be taken back to the day, the setting and the experience. when my little girl was born, i became passionate about self portraits. i want her to have a collection of pictures of us together. to remember what her mama looked like when she was little. to see the happy emotion and love in my eyes when i look at her. and to show her what our everyday looked like as she grew. taking self portraits with a dslr is something that most people are very intimidated by and, therefore, struggle with. by following these simple steps for taking self portraits with a dslr, you will be able to achieve self portraits with crisp focus for either you or your children to cherish. and listen when i say this…get in the frame. if not for you, for your children or family. say goodbye to the days of hiding behind your camera, i am going to make this easy for you!
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A Step-By-Step Guide For Taking Self Portraits With A DSLR
Step 1. Have The Right Gear
first of all, you don’t need to have the fanciest DSLR on the market to achieve a self portrait, your camera is just fine. but since i am explaining to you how i achieve my self portraits, i will tell you about what gear i use. i photograph with a nikon d750, nikon d610, and nikon d600. again, you don’t need these cameras to achieve a self portrait, this is just what i use. what you do need is: a tripod and/or a remote. i am all about making things easier when they can be when taking self portraits with a dslr, and a tripod and remote are both great tools for simplifying the self portrait. as for lenses, anything works! my favorite self portrait lens, and the one used in the portrait above, is my sigma art 24mm f/1.4 lens.
Step 2. Set Up Your Tripod
whether you want to set up a tripod or place your dslr on a flat surface, get your camera into a position that suits your self portrait. for the self portrait above, i set up a tripod at the foot of our bed.
Step 3. Adjust Your Camera Settings
just like when you take any photo, you start with adjusting your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. for self portraits, your aperture is your game changer. i find that shooting at f/3.5 or f/4 or higher yields me a focused self portrait.
Step 4. Take A Test Shot
test out your aperture choice by setting your self timer and jumping into the frame for a test shot. then review your photo. are you in focus? if not, rethink your settings by either raising your aperture some more or using a faster shutter speed to freeze any potential movement that can show motion blur and result in an unfocused image. keep taking test shots until you nail your focus.
Step 5. Set An Interval Timer
this. this is a must for taking self portraits with a dslr. i love setting an interval timer so that my dslr takes a series of photos, with small breaks in between. having an interval timer reduces the number of times you run back and forth from your camera to your portrait position and you can get multiple photos in one setup. plus, making small adjustments like turning your head or body slightly between frames will ensure that you get a variety of self portraits in various positions. i set my self-timer to take 9 photos, 2 seconds apart from one another beginning 10 seconds after i press the shutter button. pull out your camera manual to learn more about setting a timer on your particular camera model.
Step 6. Set Your Focus
place your focal point in the area where you will be inside of the frame and hold your shutter button halfway down to focus, then all the way down to begin the self timer. for the photo above, i placed the focal point on the pillows behind me and with an aperture of f/4 i was able to be in focus once i entered the frame. if you aren’t sure where to place your focal point, you can always put a teddy bear where you intend to sit, place the focal point on the bear, and then replace the bear with yourself!
Step 7. Hop In The Frame
you can either press the shutter button and then hop into the frame or you can use a remote that allows you to position yourself within the frame first and remotely activate the shutter once you are ready. again, once your camera begins to take pictures, be sure you make small adjustments between shots to experiment with angles that are the most flattering. i like to adjust my shoulders, rotate my waist and look in a variety of directions.
Step 8. Check Your Back of Camera
after you take a series of self portraits, be sure to check the back of your camera to see how they are turning out. make sure you are still achieving focus and look at how you are personally photographing. do you need to make adjustments with your body to achieve a more flattering look? is the pose working like you thought?
Step 9. Try Again
listen here, i can tell you all of my tips and tricks but none of them are helpful if you aren’t willing to try again. rarely do i achieve a self portrait that i love on the first try. getting in front of the camera is all about experimenting, as we are relinquishing our control by stepping away from the camera and placing ourselves in front of it. you have to be willing to be patient and try again if things don’t go well the first time. it’s when you try again that you learn the most. please remember that.
Step 10. Accept Your Flaws
self portraits are about being real. well, they should be at least. we aren’t perfect. we aren’t supposed to be perfect. are your roots showing? probably. does your self portrait show some cellulite? get over it. accept the things that you can’t change and change the things that you can. you can’t fix your personal body flaws, so focus on the technical aspect of the self portrait and be kind to yourself. and know that when your children or family look at your self portrait today, tomorrow, or somewhere down the road…they will love you for it because you are capturing the true person that they know and love.
taking self portraits with a dslr is definitely a challenge, i’ll be honest. but the more you do it, the better you will get at it. the first few times, it’s going to take you awhile. you will be fumbling with your settings and experimenting with your gear. but the more you get in front of the frame, the easier it gets. before you know it, you will be quickly deciding on your camera settings, jumping in the frame and editing your portaits quicker than you thought.
don’t forget to have fun with the self portrait. experiment with intentionally being out of focus, creative crops, and compositions. sometimes the best self portraits are those that are non-traditional.
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