I experimented with taking self portrait photos today. The #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day prompt for September 6th is self portrait, which got me thinking about how to be creative in my approach to creating a photo portrait of myself. I’ve done some playing around with self portraiture in the past (here and here) and have been practicing the art of the selfie as a way to document some of the outings my husband and I take. (Otherwise I have discovered that I am absent in my own photography.)
But what does it mean to take a self portrait? And what does it say about me and my photography? As I set out today, I knew that I was not going to be taking the typical hold your phone out at arm’s length and shoot a photo sort of self portrait. Instead, I wanted to focus on ways to capture portraits of myself in less typical ways.
Walking along the waterfront, I noticed a monument to those who have served in the military that had shiny marble sides. I could see my reflection as walked by, so decided to try taking a self portrait by framing myself in the shot.
I like the way the grain of the marble creates a texture on the photo, and you can see how the shade also impacted the image.
Continuing our walk, I noticed a mirror used to help cars see around corners as I went to cross a driveway. I stood and aimed my camera as I framed myself in the mirror.
It’s interesting to me the way the mirror captures the urban elements of the setting, while the background features the branches and leaves of a tree.
As we walked down the Broadway Pier, I noticed the reflective glass of the building there. Along the side of the building I could see the USS Midway, a retired military aircraft carrier, reflected in the window. I urged my husband to join me and capture this self portrait.
Geoff noticed this star on a window of a restaurant as we headed back toward where we had parked our car, so of course I had to stop to snap a photo. The long skinny window makes an interesting frame for the self portrait.
We had talked earlier in our outing about the possibility of me taking a self portrait by framing myself in my husband’s sunglasses. So as we passed the park at Seaport Village we stopped to try this technique. It took a few tries…and we left without knowing for sure if my image would be visible. With a bit of post production editing, this is the resulting image.
Today’s focus on self portrait photography had me paying attention to light, reflection, texture, and composition. I was working not only to capture an image of myself, but also to document my surroundings in interesting ways. Sometimes I noticed that I held my phone in a way that obscured my face so then I experimented with holding it lower and tried to look into the reflective surface rather than at my shutter button.
I did some post production editing to crop away extraneous material and place the focus on the portrait. Filters helped me brighten or tone down colors and create an effect that I found pleasing.
I took many other photos today as I walked the waterfront and explored downtown San Diego, but it was fun to experiment with the self portrait too. Taking photos of myself in reflective surfaces made me aware of the many ways I can use those surfaces to create other kinds of photos as well–things I don’t always think about as I am shooting. I know I’ll be doing some experimenting over the next week or so!
What do you learn when you take photographic self portraits? What techniques are your favorites? I’d love to hear from you!