Capturing and collecting beautiful moments with the perfect shot is not beyond your reach. I learned quickly when starting a website that getting in front of the camera is a necessary and essential component to growing my numbers. People wonder if I hire a photographer or book fancy studios every time I need new shots. I definitely don’t and you certainly don’t have to either to take phenomenal photos of yourself.
Having the willingness to try something that might make you feel a little uncomfortable at first is monumental in self-growth. I love taking photos, and when I’m traveling or capturing the plating of a new dish, I know the best angles and lighting. The confidence when looking through the viewfinder before snapping that one-of-a-kind shot is exhilarating. Standing behind the camera is my thing. Now stepping in front of the camera… that’s a different story.
It definitely took some inspiration and encouragement to confidently stand in front of a camera. When I came across Ashlee Hightower on Instagram, I was utterly amazed at how often she has photos of herself. Thumbing through her feed, photo after photo, posing in front of different places with different outfits, you would think she has her own entourage glam squad constantly by her side when in reality she either uses a tripod or asks her husband to snap photos.
To my surprise, I discovered that I actually enjoy taking photos of myself, and I want to encourage you to step in front of the camera, and boldly show your beautiful face. Completely forget the selfie arm’s-length method, and adopt these valuable tips to feel confident when taking photos of yourself for your website and Instagram feed.
THE SELF-TIMER + BLUETOOTH REMOTE METHOD
Self-timers and bluetooth remotes are game-changers when it comes to taking photos of yourself. Next to asking others to take a photo, this is the cheapest and most controlled route to take. This was my first approach to taking photos of myself, and it certainly did the trick in taking the edge off of feeling awkward and self-conscious.
Enjoy choosing any place in your home, outside, or in front of a building, wearing a fabulous or casual outfit. This is your self-photo shoot where you get to experiment freely and play with different poses without being rushed to get the perfect shot within three takes. Simply set up a tripod with either a camera or a phone, position it to your liking, and give yourself the much-needed 10 seconds to get into position.
Phone cameras also have timing capabilities, and recent tripods provide phone holders to allow height adjustments. I must say that after discovering the bluetooth remote, I’ve stopped using self-timers. It’s inexpensive and hides easily in the palm of our hand when snapping several photos at a time without having to run back and forth after a single shot. The bluetooth remote allows me to play more, snapping whimsical and natural shots. Here is my recommendation:
SHOOT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL
Let’s dig a bit deeper into helpful photography techniques. Lighting. Finding the best lighting is essential in capturing stunning photos. Natural lighting is ideal, but not in direct sunlight. Facing a window where natural light is coming through is perfect. Avoid having the sun beaming right onto your face or eclipsed behind you. The best time to take photos is when the light is softer, around mid-morning, dusk, or whenever it’s overcast.
This is obvious, but it goes without saying: clean the lens! There’s nothing more annoying than snapping great photos only to realize during editing that dust ruined the photos. Give the camera and phone lenses a well-deserved wipe down with a soft cloth or t-shirt before shooting. Wiping any dust and smudges off the lenses will create the clearest snapshot possible. Maintain this good habit before any shoot.
Never ever zoom using the phone. For closer photos, simply move your phone tripod or prop setup closer to you. The manual zoom capabilities on a phone camera, unfortunately, takes away from the quality and clarity of the photos.
Portrait mode is da bomb on the phone! Ever seen photos where the subject is focused and the background is blurred? This is called f-stop, and a lot of phone cameras provide this option under portrait mode. It does wonders for headshots to really make your beautiful face and personality pop off the screen while the background is slightly blurred.
Even after taking your photos under portrait mode, you can adjust the f-stop gage which alters the blurriness in the background. Definitely play with this tool on your phone. I especially love using this mode when capturing photos of my dishes, but that’s another topic to discuss later!
When traveling solo, I always pack a small tripod along with a bluetooth remote to capture epic shots. Wake up early to beat the heavy foot traffic to snap in front of touristy places. Take a step further and try to find unique hidden gems that will make for interesting shoots. If your hotel room has windows or a balcony, put on a robe, grab a glass of champagne and snap a dreamy photo of looking out into city streets or countryside. Airbnb also offers “photo experiences” where a person will use your phone or camera to take photos around the city.
Curious about how to travel solo? Get solo traveling tips that I learned from my trip to Spain!
With this economical choice, these are done by local artists who know the right place and time to snap one-of-a-kind photos abroad. Here is my favorite travel equipment that is light and perfect for travel shoots:
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
Now let’s shake things up a bit by creating more dynamic and versatile photos of yourself that don’t involve a bluetooth remote. John Lennon and Paul McCartney said it best: I get by with a little help from my friends!
Some of my prized photos were taken by a friend. This is especially helpful when you’re not ready to invest in a professional photographer (FYI, I still haven’t taken this route!). All I did was buy her lunch, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon going to different places around Houston. Who knew that photoshoots could be this much fun!
These photos were more whimsical, and I owe it to my animated and hilarious friend. I knew that I needed someone’s affirming engagement behind the camera, offering spur-of-the-moment directions while maintaining a fun and free environment.
Before the shoot, I had the location, props, and outfits ready to go. During our lunch, my friend had additional ideas that added so much creative depth to the examples I showed earlier. I love this creative collaboration! I would have never thought to do certain poses if it wasn’t for her input.
Having a friend or partner whose input you trust definitely provides the necessary comfort to know that I was in good hands. I was also considerate of her time by working more around her schedule than my own since she was doing ME the favor.
For Ashlee, her husband takes most of her photos. I’m sure she provides specific directions and clarity of shots, but in the end, he is making her laugh and smile while snapping incredible photos. You can easily snap thousands of photos during a shoot, and if a friend or spouse has no problem adjusting to your liking, then you have yourself a winner.
The hand-on-the-hip with a big grin photo is nice and all, but I personally love and find candid, unexpected, and unpolished photos more interesting. Creating movement by walking away or towards the camera, not looking directly to the lens, adjusting your hat, or removing a piece of hair from your mouth is stunning and natural.
My friend brilliantly and creatively captured my best photos while I was laughing at her or at what someone said while walking by. I can’t recreate that moment. That’s why it’s important to tell your friend or partner to keep snapping through all those organic and captivating moments.
DABBLE IN EDITING WITH PRESETS
When filters were first introduced on Instagram, I transformed every possible photo with huey and saturated edits. Although Instagram and phones continue to provide filter options, presets have now become my leading photo editing tool.
After you’ve taken hundreds of photos either alone or with a friend, it’s time to tweak them a bit with the Mobile Adobe Lightroom App, which is free. You can edit, alter lighting, and publish your photos directly to Instagram in the palm of your hand.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Mobile Adobe Lightroom App, I have an easy how-to explanation on getting your photos polished, along with some free presets that will brighten and add creative twists to your photos.
If you need more presets, I got ya covered: I actually have a deal going on where you can get 25 presets for under $20. Use code MALIFEGRAB to get 50% off of my favorite and most beloved presets that I use for my photos on the website and Instagram.
Adobe Lightroom also has a desktop version when you’re ready to edit mass photos. Right now Adobe is offering a sweet deal of 25% off until August 16th.
REUSE + RECYCLE PHOTOS
If you’re anything like me, you are probably in possession of many photos of you that were never published. You’ll be surprised what you find in your archive of photos. These photos are priceless that capture you in a different time in your life. Followers want to know who you are.
Each of us have beautiful and inspirational stories to share that can reach others in profound and unimaginable ways. I often come across candid photos of me taken by loved ones. Some reveal both the unseen silly and serious side of me that others often don’t get to witness.
I love reusing old photos! Resurrecting some photos and re-posting them on the ‘gram can be great for an impromptu or reminiscing post. Variety is key, so as long as your feed doesn’t have repeating photos back-to-back, you’re in good shape. Spread them out as much as possible.
For some necessary safety precaution, avoid posting your photos in real-time. Pretty sure JLo’s photos taken on a boat were not done during a live Instagram shoot. Informing people of your exact location in real-time will put you at risk. We want to avoid any unwanted guests crashing our photoshoot.
By not posting in real-time, you’re not only maintaining a healthy and safe environment, but you also don’t have to fret with the pressures of capturing that single perfect shot. Having a photoshoot, whether alone with a tripod, with a friend, or even with a professional generates diversity and creativity which ultimately produces original and authentic photos.
THE BIG PICTURE
Snapping pictures of yourself doesn’t need to be done by a professional or fancy equipment. Step in front of the camera with either a friend or tripod, and show the world the wonderful, the bold, and beautiful YOU.