A few weeks back, Problogger linked to the release of a new ebook on his other website, Digital Photography School. The book, The Art of Self-Portraiture: Anna Gay's 365 Days. In the interest of both a fashion blogger who likes to share her own pictures and a former photography student who loved self-portraiture (and artists like Cindy Sherman), I picked it up.
During my high school and college years I focused much of my extra-curricular time on traditional black and white photography; most of my undergrad college years where spent using a simple point and shoot camera to take self-portraits. Through that process, I learned a lot about myself and learned a lot about my own beauty. I've slipped away from it all, but find myself needing to come back to it more and more as I try to incorporate more original photography in to my site. This book seemed like a great way to reacquaint myself with photography and self-portraiture–which we know is a foundation of a great fashion blog!
Before I chat about Anna Gay's The Art of Self Portraiture, I want to say IFB has a lot of great resources on photography and self-portraits, including:
5 Tips for Taking Better Photos of Yourself
How to Take Gorgeous Self Portraits
3 Tech Tips for Blog Photos
How to Take Your Own Outfit Photos
5 Tips for Taking Photos in Low Light
Why Beautiful Imagery is Important for Fashion Blogger Success
Tips for Photographing Fashion Shows: Backstage
The author, Anna Gay, found the 365 Project (taking a photograph a day for 365 days– and in her case, 365 days of portraits) life transforming, in addition to being a great way to build up her skills as a photographer. She says, “one of the most wonderful aspects of self portraiture is that it offers you monumental amounts of practice with your camera, and quickly develops your eye for composition.”
- Tools: remotes vs. timers, tripods, lenses, & lighting equipment.
- Lighting: natural light, flashes & off-camera lighting, and alternative lighting sources.
- Composition: the Rule of Thirds, dramatic crops, utilizing props & scenery, posing & camera angles, and movement.
- Focus: shutter speed & aperture and selective focus.
- Post-Processing: photo-editing software, exposure levels & color balance, and texture & presets.
- Inspiration: here she shares other self portraiture artists who she finds inspiring, with examples of their work, including Deborah Rabinowitz and Eric Albee, among others.
- Self-Portrait Projects: the 365 Days Project, The 52 Weeks Project, and other photo-sharing websites (along with awesome suggestions for themes for your own 52 Weeks/365 Days projects!).
For anyone who may have taken a photography class in school, you'll probably find a lot of her information in tools, lighting, composition, and focus to be familiar territory. What I enjoy about her in these areas (that you don't always get in a class) is how experimental you can be when talking portraits– Anna doesn't encourage people to go out and spend a lot of money. Rather to make do with the resources you have available. She talks about taking photos holding a lamp in her hands to get the best lighting, or spraying painting a black umbrella silver on the inside to work as a reflector umbrella.
I find the remaining 3 sections, post-processing, inspiration, and self-portrait projects, the most intriguing. They really embody the kind of person that this book is developed for– the online user, the computer-based user, and one who is social media engaged (with participation in memes). She continues to share free resources here– from free photo-editing software to places to find themes and presets. It really shows how online-focused she is, and how the online community and resources have helped her grow as a photographer.
With most of her pictures, she shares her inspiration, ideas and how she created the image, providing great visual inspiration to the reader, along with technical inspiration. I'm really excited to use this ebook (along with my copies of Understanding Exposure and The Digital Photography Book) to hone in my photography skills and break back in to one of my favorite creative past times.
For the photographers in the group– what resources do you use for building up your photography skills? Any tips to share?