If you're the family shutterbug, aka official documenter of all occasions and special moments, you already know how important it is to capture precious memories in a photograph. It's a lot of fun to create slideshows, scrapbooks, and photo gifts with pictures of your friends and family, and everyone loves them. But what happens when you need a good picture of yourself? Do you coax a friend to take the shot? Hire a professional photographer? Use your webcam? If none of those options fit the bill, here's one way to ensure that you are well photographed in the future - do it yourself and take a self-portrait. From blog profiles to business brochures, everyone needs a current, flattering photograph.
The first step to a great self-portrait is learning to use your camera's self-timer. You know, that icon located on the back of the camera that looks like a clock?
By using the self-timer to capture your own portrait you have control over how you look, how the photograph is taken, and what happens to it afterwards. And with digital photography, you can take as many pictures as you want - whatever you don't like, you just delete.
Now let's prepare for the shot:
- Wear a solid color shirt that compliments your skin tone and/or eye color. For example, if you have blue eyes, find a blue shirt that enhances your eye color. Bright white and dark black clothing may be more difficult to photograph, and stay away from patterns and logos.
- Check your face in the mirror, is it shiny? If so, apply a translucent face powder to reduce the shine (men too).
- Avoid taking your photograph in direct sunlight-it creates unflattering, harsh shadows on your face. Soft, even light is best. To find good light outdoors, look for open shade under a tree or next to a building. For example, this photo was taken in the shade near a house. Indoors, position yourself near indirect window-light or an open doorway.
- Eliminate shadows and under eye circles by reflecting light into the dark areas on your face. You can purchase a professional reflector or craft a homemade one by using a car dashboard reflector or a baking sheet covered in tin foil. Practice holding the reflector at a slight angle, just above tummy level, to bounce a little light into your face.
- Set your camera to Portrait Mode. Cameras vary, so this setting may be located on your Mode Dial or in your Scene Mode settings. Check your manual if you’re not sure.
Now, get ready to take the picture.
- Select a low-backed chair or stool to sit on and place it in your location.
- Position your camera on a tripod or stable surface at least 6 feet away from the chair.
- Get rid of any background clutter.
- Compose your shot by using an object to focus on. A large pillow, or stuffed animal propped up in the chair will do the trick. Zoom in with your lens to fill the frame with your stand-in.
- Press the self-timer icon and cycle through your options. Self-timers on digital cameras vary. Some let you select the time it takes for the self-timer to release the shutter, usually between two and 10 seconds. Others have a custom self-timer that allows you to set the countdown time and the number of shots to be taken. The 10-second option will give you enough time to position yourself in front of the camera.
- Press the shutter button halfway down to lock in the focus and exposure; then, fully depress the shutter-release button to trigger the timer.
- The red warning light on the front of the camera will blink steadily during countdown and just before taking the picture it will start to blink faster.
- Now grab your reflector, move into place, get comfortable, laugh, look into the lens and give the camera a real smile.
- As you take more shots, position your body at an angle to the camera and experiment with various expressions. Keep in mind that smiling and leaning towards the camera will convey a friendly, approachable personality. Leaning away from the camera or tilting your head back will appear snooty.
Tip: One way to instantly see how you look is to place a mirror right behind your camera so you can check your position and expression before the picture is captured.
Finally, transfer your images to your computer, pick your favorite shot and get busy. You can always upload your images to an online photo-sharing website to save and share, but there is nothing like holding and viewing a beautiful print in a frame, a scrapbook, or seeing it printed on a card or calendar. And they make great gifts! I like to use the portable Canon Selphy ES2 for quick 4 x 6 prints when I'm hanging out in the kitchen or living room, and I use the Canon MP610 in my home office for scanning and printing up to 8.5 x 11". Remember to use photo paper for the best results and don't forget to visit Creative Park for free downloadable templates for greeting cards, calendars and scrapbooking pages.
With digital photography, there are so many options to choose from. Now it's easy to take better photographs and share them with friends and family - especially when it's a beautiful self-portrait!