The Art of Self-Portraiture: Anna Gay’s 365 Days eBook


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.”

The Art of Self Portraiture is broken up in to seven chapters:

  1. Tools: remotes vs. timers, tripods, lenses, & lighting equipment.
  2. Lighting: natural light, flashes & off-camera lighting, and alternative lighting sources.
  3. Composition: the Rule of Thirds, dramatic crops, utilizing props & scenery, posing & camera angles, and movement.
  4. Focus: shutter speed & aperture and selective focus.
  5. Post-Processing: photo-editing software, exposure levels & color balance, and texture & presets.
  6. 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.
  7. 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?


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About The Author

Ana is a Travel Blogger and Blogging Coach at The City Sidewalks. With her expertise in online marketing, she's able to help other bloggers, creatives, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses so that they can achieve financial freedom to travel the world on their own terms.

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11 Responses

  1. Mrs Bossa

    Great review, Ashe. I laughed when I saw the part about spraying the inside of an umbrella – me and Mr B took my sister’s drama school photos using an umbrella, a sketch pad (to reflect light up onto her face) three pieces of black card (as background) and a curtain (to cut back on daylight). It’s amazing what you can do with no money!

    • Ashe

      I love how creative people can get with photography! Like many things, it’s always good to have a reminder that cheap can be great, stretch your creativity and work in a pinch!

  2. MonicaShulman

    This is a great article and I’m definitely going to check out this book! It sounds like it is a wonderful resource and while I’m very familiar with DPS, I haven’t seen Anna Gay’s work before.

    There are SO many amazing and tremendously talented contemporary self-portrait artists. One of my personal favorites, and one who I’ve come to know quite well via Flickr where she started what has become an incredible career, is Natalie Dybisz, aka Miss Aniela. I recently reviewed and gave away a copy of her recent book Self-Portrait Photography on my blog – her book and work is certainly worth checking out by anyone who is interested in self-portrait photography from its history to contemporary artists to post-processing, theory, executing an idea, etc. She covers everything. Natalie is self-taught and she is so open about her work — she’s incredibly inspiring. Both her blog and website are great.

    Another group to check out is the Female Self-Portrait Artist Support Group on Flickr. In general, Flickr is a fantastic resource for checking out self-portrait photographers.

    PS–thanks so much for linking to my articles here on IFB:)

    • Ashe

      Thank you, Monica, for having great resources to share with IFB! 🙂

      I haven’t heard of Natalie Dybisz, so I’ll definitely have to check her & her ebook out. Self portraits have always been closet to me (next to fashion photography) and seeing great examples I’m sure will inspire me to get off my ass more!

      Thank you for so many great recommendations– I hope the IFB community checks them out. I know I will be!

      • MonicaShulman

        it’s my pleasure! there are so many wonderful resources out there. in fact, natalie shares her own inspirations in her book. another favorite self-portrait artist of mine is rebbekka guleifsdottir. she is truly talented. the woman lives in iceland and she uses her country’s beautiful landscapes to create narratives in her self-portraiture. she is beyond!

        someone else to check out is elle moss. so many talented people out there I would be here forever listing them out.

  3. Lux Leonard

    Wow! What an incredible article- I am awestruck by Anne Gay and Ashe 🙂

    I am Lux*, an Independent Inspiration-in-Style Fashion Blogger.

    I would love to hear from you in regards to this article, including Anne, Ashe, or anyone that found it inspiring 🙂

    I would like to invite you to visit my Blog:

    You are welcome to write to me with anything fashion at my IFB address- Lux Leonard.

    I would love to hear about your style and devotion to sharing your love of fashion!

    Love Lux*

  4. Rebekah

    I took film photography classes and then switched to digital a few years ago. This review is soo helpful as Ive been dragging my ass on getting in front of the camera (for once!) i love cobbling together tools to get professional looking results. Great post!

  5. Niumo

    Wow! Anna talks about nearly everything I’m learning in my photo class, amazing, glad i read this.

    I would appreciate it if someone were to look at my blog and give me some constructive criticism regarding my shots.

    Thanks xx