Self Portrait Photography Ideas & Tricks

In this video Gavin Hoey shows how to make two very different self portraits using a Canon 60D with the exact same lighting setup for both shots:

The main difference between the two portraits is the background: a black background for the low key portrait and a white background for the Photoshopped portrait. If you don’t have a reversible screen, a large sheet of black paper will work fine the first photo and a white sheet or white wall will be fine for the second image.

One problem you can come across when creating self portraits is focusing. For this video Gavin uses a cut out of his own face, attached to a boom stand. If you don’t have any of those things then you have two options.

Option 1: A cable release, these are relatively inexpensive and a great tool which can be used in a multitude of situations. These are also useful when using a 60D because of its articulating view screen, which allows you to see exactly what you’re shooting.

Option 2: Get help from a friend. This will also help when it comes to taking the shot because the person helping you can press the shutter button, negating the need for a self timer shot. One important point though, make sure your friend is roughly the same height as you, otherwise you’ll have problems framing your shot correctly.

self portrait focusing

Face Cut Out for Focusing

For the low key portrait the only post production required is to convert the image to black and white.

low key portrait photography

Low Key Portrait

The second portrait requires a little more work. If you have Adobe Photoshop CS5 or CS6 this should be relatively easy. If you don’t have either of those then a cheaper option is Adobe Photoshop Elements 11.

photoshop portrait photograph

Photoshop Portrait

Of course you can use any background you want and once you mastered this technique it’s a great trick for manipulating or enhancing any portrait.

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