How to Take Gorgeous Self Portraits
By: Jennine Jacob

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When it comes to Fashion Blogs, there is no more personal way to create original content that the ol’ “What are you wearing” post.

Image by Dustin Fenstermacher

Even if the main focus of your blog may not be personal style, WAYW photos help personalize your blog and connect with your readers. From experience, taking photos of myself was tricky at first, and through a lot of trial and error, I’m a lot happier nowadays with my wardrobe pics than in the early days of my blog. Here are some tips to help you achieve the quality photos you want for your blog.

The Camera

With fashion blogs, pictures are a vital part of the content. Just think of a fashion magazine with little to no photos. Yeah. Cameras actually do make a difference, your camera phone is not going to produce the same quality results as a DSLR. Luckily, digital cameras are relatively easy to get your hands on, new or used. When I first started, I just had a small digital camera I got for Christmas (which was all I needed at the time) but as I took photos daily, I came to realize what I needed in a camera, small enough to fit in a clutch, video, could photograph in low light, and could be propped (flat sides).

Portrait in the Mirror via The Coveted

Because I’m a label whore, I went with the Canon Powershot mostly because it had good reviews, and the price was right (less than $250). Then as I was taking pictures every day, of everything, pushing the limits of the little point and shoot,  it became apparent that perhaps I needed a DSLR,  so I purchased the Canon Digital Rebel XT, it’s a great small SLR, many students have this camera, and I was able to get one on sale for around $500. They are both great cameras, and I use them for different purposes, for instance, a self portrait in the city may not be so discreet with a SLR on a tripod. The little point and shoot is great, but it doesn’t really catch the depth and detail as the SLR.

Self timer vs. Remote

For the first year and a half of my blog, I set up the camera, did the timer, then ran to my position, posed, waited for the photo, then ran back to the camera, check it, get pissed because my shoes didn’t make it in the frame, set the camera again…

The self timer is ok, if you are going to do one picture or maybe two. Maybe you don’t need more. However If you have perfectionist leanings, then get a remote. It’s made my life so much easier, and my photos have gotten so much better, not just because I’m using a better camera, but because I’m not frustrated from running back and forth. Remotes are about $20, and the batteries have a long run. So it’s worth the small investment.

Image by Dustin Fenstermacher

Shooting

When I first started taking photos of myself, I found it very difficult to relax in front of the camera, which ended up with a lot of stiff looking portraits. I still have a hard time in front of the camera, and though I’ve heard people practice a ‘picture face’ you know like Paris Hilton, or Blue Steel, but I’ve never been able to do that. Here are some of the methods I try to relax:

  • Tell a story with the photo, add a prop to help. A chair, an umbrella, glasses, a tea cup works just fine
  • Listen to music and dance to it
  • Singing ( that makes everyone sooo happy)
  • Place a mirror behind the camera and focus on the ‘dressing up’ part
  • Think of something that makes me happy

While head to toe shots are the most popular, that doesn’t mean it’s the only composition. Try experimenting with detail shots, ones that give us a better feeling of the overall vibe of the outfit.  Like the picture below, I may not know what Audrey’s outfit really looks like, but I tell you, I really want a pair of plaid stockings.

Image by Dustin Fenstermacher

Editing

Sometimes a photo is perfect as-is, but in my experience, that’s rarely the case. Cropping, color correction, resizing, are all important in producing a great photo. If you have Photoshop, great use it, play around, that’s how you learn, well that’s how I learned.

If you don’t have Photoshop, I’ve been hearing GIMP is an open source alternative. The cost is how much you would like to donate.

Picknick is another great free photo editing tool, like PunkyStyle uses (below) it’s fully integrated with Flickr, but if you go to the site itself,  you can edit your photos and save them to your Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, or save it on your hardrive, or email it. Now, that’s handy.

What are some tips you’ve learned in self portraits?

More tips on self portraits:

Related Forum posts:

Comments

  1. WendyB says:

    Oh my, I really need to improve.

  2. Leah says:

    Great tips! Sometimes, I find it’s not so much feeling self conscious in front of the camera, but more in public. Thus, if I wanted to venture out (even if it’s just in front on the house) to do something a bit different, I would feel awkward doing so.

  3. punky says:

    For years I was afraid to show my face, I would take pictures form the neck down (which seems really weird now). My favorite outfit posts are then real ones when we are out on a adventure for the day and I happen to be wearing something I love. Then the outfit post is a reminder of a beautiful day and not just clothes.

    I use picnik to edit photos. I stink at photoshop but picnik is really easy to use.

  4. Jennine says:

    Yeah, I remember your older pics with no face… I like your new ones more!

    Great tip about Picknick, I’m going to amend the post… strangely, I’ve never really explored it, until now. It’s great.

  5. Fab photos & tips. Thanks!

  6. Baglife says:

    great info. tjhanks a lot !!!
    greetings from spain.

  7. demi says:

    wow, thanks for the tips. what a great post :) x

  8. demi says:

    wow, thanks for the tips. what a great post :) x

  9. YHK says:

    Thanks a bunch for the great article!

  10. Ali-bell says:

    I’m going to look into getting a remote now, it’s hard to relax and take natural photos when you have to run back to the camera between every shot!
    I also find it’s good to get into a routine to make sure your photos are taken at the right time of day – for example the wall I take most of my photos against gets the best natural light in the morning, whereas my balcony looks best in the afternoon. I really hate using the flash so I try to make the most of natural light when I can!

  11. Thank you so much for this post! This has been my biggest dilemma with my blog. I want to post for personal pictures, but don’t want them to be shoddy. I’ve been eying the Powershot and now I’m sold.

  12. great tips!

    if you dont have someone to take your photos for you i highly recommend a tripod. ive gotten scratches and broken beyond repair my previous camera when a gust of wind knocked it down from being propped on its side.

    also i have a casio exs10, and it has this automatic shutter feature where it will just keep on taking photos until i stop it or until it runs out of memory. it saves me time from running back in forth every 3 shots to reset the self timer since it continuously keeps taking photos.

    since i cant deal with complicated photo editing programs i just use Paint.net, Picassa, and FastStone Photo Resizer depending on what i need to do.

  13. Snowshoe says:

    great article! i didn’t even know about remotes… i get very frustrated running back and forth when i’m doing photos alone. and it usually shows in my face. i tend to look much more “put out” when I’ve been photographing myself.

  14. Jennine says:

    oh yes, i love my little powershot.. it goes where ever i go! :)

    thanks p. i totally forgot to mention tripods… as i thought it was a given… but yes, i can’t live without my tripod.
    xx

  15. Sandra says:

    Oh this is a great tutorial!
    First I need to get a better camera. I have a Cannon also, but a pre IS and it takes horrible pictures in low light.

    I will definitely take your advice about how to pose. I take horrible pictures. I know I am much cuter in person. haha!

  16. T&TC says:

    Thank You for this guide!
    I used it on my website

  17. Summer says:

    Such a lovely blog you have. I am thinking about taking self portrait of my own and here i find what i needed. I surely do think the Law of Attraction works. I am so envious of people who take the cutest pictures. Maybe i should take a picture with a Polaroid camera as a prop. O how wonderful would that be?!

  18. Mike says:

    If you have time and the resources, using a manual slr is even better. I’ve captured photographs on my old Canon and the colours are amazing.

  19. Allure says:

    Recently, I’ve been thinking about doing “What are your wearing posts” basically because it would help me to develope my style a lot. So, thanks for this helpful tips ;)

  20. Jennine says:

    i hope you do allure… when we were in paris, i noticed all your great clothes, it would be nice to share them with us! :)

  21. MizzJ says:

    As someone new to creating WAYW posts I really appreciate the tips! The best shots indeed are the ones that most closely resemble those you’d see in an editorial, but those are also the most daunting for bloggers to create! The tip on creating close up shots instead of simply a full body is an interesting one I’ll have to try.

  22. aryna says:

    great post..thanks for sharing!

  23. krissy says:

    Thanks for the tips! A remote sounds great! Ü

  24. Anna says:

    Great article! :D I’m having trouble getting a great shot of myself in my clothes, and this helps! I’ll have to try playing with the lighting with my camera (Fuji FinePix S5000) some time… :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  25. Katy says:

    What a great article!!! Thanks!!

  26. Katie says:

    Great tips! I’ve actually been looking for a new, free photo editing tool to use, so I’m going to test drive some of the ones that you suggested.

  27. Frankie says:

    Such handy tips. I’m going to have a play this week x

  28. Thanx for these really helpful tips.

    I’m curious about lighting — which is so important, but not mentioned.
    The shots pictured above from The Coveted, Lady Melbourne and Urban Audrey look so great due to lighting.

    I’d like to know what other bloggers have used for lighting — inexpensive, portable and their set-ups for indoor or outdoor shoots.

    I have a Canon PowerShot A550 which serves me well for the most part, except night shots almost impossible to capture. But I may be able to enhance it’s shooting power if I knew a bit more about lighting.

  29. Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been having a lot of fun lately editing and playing around with my photos with Picasa’s latest version but I didn’t know about GIMP. I’ve just downloaded it. More fun!! (And more hours on the laptop. Yikes!)

  30. Kim says:

    I had no idea remotes existed. The running back and forth was the thing keeping me from taking outfit photos. I’m going to look into one for my powershot….

  31. I need to get a decent camera and improve!!

  32. cassie says:

    This is really helpful, thanks! I’m hoping this summer I’ll be ready to start posting pics of me wearing stuff I’ve made or got from charity shops so this will come in handy. I didn’t know about remotes either!

  33. Jillian says:

    thought a DSLR was kinda obvious I just never thought it was “worth it” but I still can’t figure out why! This is great and I think you’ve pushed me to really look into buying one and I love your ideas for relaxing for photos! That’s my biggest problem!

    It’s hard to get used to taking photos of yourself or someone else snapping a ton of photos of you, but I love your ideas! <3 thanks so much!!!

  34. I need a new camera, definitely! Thanks for the tips! ^-^

  35. Ine says:

    I did my portrait using a camera-stand and self-timer. See it here: http://decafine.com/lite.png
    I’m real happy with it, and I really didn’t edit much at all, except for a little color-fixing.

  36. I’m so slow! Like although I love pictures for some reason I don’t post pictures all the time and I don’t really ever do a WAYW section. I’m going to have to start integrating these things in. And I’ll continue playing around with Photoshop…

  37. Stephany says:

    Very helpful.. I’m purchasing a new camera this weekend, so I needed to know!

  38. Valerie says:

    i’ll be giving this a try next month. i’m taking the 365 day challenge. the first 30 days will be self portraits, since i don’t have to go looking for a subject. thanks.

  39. Midge says:

    How do you format a blog to have bigger photos? Is it limited when you’re using a free host like Blogger? My current pictures on Blogger aren’t big or clear enough to capture the fine details. I’m sure this is probably a really basic issue, but I’m new to this and have no clue.
    .-= Midge´s last blog ..A day in the sun =-.

  40. Lauren says:

    great advice! thanks for writing this!!
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Rainy Day Comfort =-.

  41. Kylie says:

    Thanks this really helped. I never thought of using props in my self portraits, but I find them useful!
    As for photoshop, I am not so good with that! It is somewhat confusing yo me :P
    I also have trouble with the angling of my shots. They often come out looking somewhat awkward. Do you have any tips for that?

  42. Grace says:

    This is the area I lag in. I don’t own a decent camera anymore, and I really do need to get one. (So thanks for the heads up on good SLRs.) And besides that I just feel goofy in photos. I’m going to apply this tips and learn to be comfortable with it!

    Love Grace.

  43. vinda says:

    great tips! i read this before actually started my fashion blog. thank you for the article! :)
    .-= vinda´s last blog ..long way home. =-.

  44. this was definitely one of my favorite articles you’ve posted on IFB. Thanks for the remote idea! and the techniques for relaxing in front of the camera. I am a really, really good photographer (have a great Canon SLR) when I can be behind the camera but in front has been a slow learning curve. I’m not terrible but I’m not where I want to be either!

    PS: I’m so glad you are recommending the powershot because I need a small point n’ shoot and that one is on my short list because a) its canon b) it comes in really cute colors ;) thank you!!
    .-= meg, reckless daughter´s last blog ..the sonia rykiel pour H&M runway spectacular… =-.

  45. nc2220 says:

    Anyone have a good recommendation for a tripod? Definitely cheap and portable- in fact, I’m thinking of maybe getting a flexible tripod that can attach to any surface, anyone use something like that?

  46. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the way my pictures turn out. I know the first thing I have to do is to change my camera, I am hoping to get a new one this month. also, the lighting in my apartment is quite horrible and I hate that I don’t get to take as many outdoor shots as I would like to.
    I higly appreciate the advice you gave, I think it will definitely help me produce better pics for the blog. thank you so much!!!
    xoxo,
    miha
    .-= skinny buddha´s last blog ..black rainbow =-.

  47. Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya

    I’m Out! :)

  48. indiegoespop says:

    Thank you for the wonderful tips. I just bought a $200 Canon Powershot and I’m having the hardest time setting up shots.
    .-= indiegoespop´s last blog ..minimarket S/S 2010 =-.

  49. Erin says:

    Wow thanks for the great tips Jennine, I never even knew remote’s existed!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Sample Sale & Silent Auction to benefit Haiti =-.

  50. Great tips. I definitely need to invest in a better camera!

  51. FashionGirl. says:

    Excellent tips.
    I haven’t used any shots of myself yet.
    Looking for a new camera, to do my first photoshoot.
    These will really help!
    Great post :)
    FG xoxo

  52. These are really great tips. Especially pertaining to the use of a remote control. I realized my old camera does not produce high quality photos needed for blogging, so I purchased a new one. I’m currently looking for a wireless remote control for my -Nikon D5000 – Digital SLR Camera. I think I should be able to find one on Amazon to improve my photos. Thanks again!
    .-= Fashion.Art.Crafts-Etecetera´s last blog ..Mostly Black for a Mostly Rainy Day. =-.

  53. ah, what a timely article. just traded in my Powershot for a Canon Rebel xsi. I’m so excited to learn on this, and practice all your handy tips.
    .-= Citizen Rosebud´s last blog ..Rebel, Rebel =-.

  54. Stephanie says:

    great tips – thank you!

  55. Awesome tips, time for me to start clicking! Keep giving us more tips on taking pictures! :)

  56. This was really useful, thanks!

  57. Kimberellie says:

    Great tips!!

    A tip I have is to take photos from a lower angle sort of upward at yourself (experiment). This will make you look “taller”. Took me awhile to figure this one out!

    Also, I always “feel” happy. I find I get much better “smiles” when I feel them than when I “wear” them. ;-D

    I may have to get that DSLR! What a great deal!

  58. Tiffany says:

    Thanks so much for the tips. I love the idea of getting a remote as the timer/running to spot technique really does kind of suck.
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Weekly Secret Weapon: Color Mixing =-.

  59. kaye says:

    and i would wanna add that LIGHTING should be your priority when taking pictures! by adjusting your lighting before hitting your shutter, you can capture the most true-to-life colors, vibrant or soft (however you want it) and it’ll make the biggest difference in your photos. after all, cameras capture light!

    so always, always think about your lighting! =)

    care to visit a filipina’s fashion blog as well? =)


    http://www.saturdaystylebykaye.blogspot.com
    http://www.saturdaystylebykaye.blogspot.com

    .

  60. TJ McDowell says:

    Sounds like you’ve got this down to a science. I don’t think I’d be able to get a great self-portrait.

  61. Cassidy says:

    Are remotes avaiable for point and shoot cameras? Or they only avaiable for SLRs?

  62. Teravel says:

    I’m not the kind of person that enjoys having his picture all over the internet, but I love sharing pictures of my crazy cat. He’s like a child sleeping in all those weird positions and in weird places.
    I will be sure to take your advice for the next time I catch him in a good pose, as I usually just point and click, hoping for the best. Thanks for the information!

  63. bookmarked for later

  64. I am horrified when I look back to just a few short months ago and my mirror selfies. One or two is forgivable, but when it’s the main way that you’re posting your pics? There’s a better way to do things! Even if you ARE using a camera phone, switch from mirror selfies to having someone snap a quick pic of you at work or at home and see how much better your response is!

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