9 Tips for Taking Self-Portrait Photos You’ll Love

12/03/2021 3:08 pm

As photographers, we’re comfortable capturing the essence of other people, but many of us find self-portrait photos daunting. We not only need to overcome the nerves that pop up when we step in front of a camera lens, but we have to learn how to manage the camera and strike a pose at the same time.


The next time you’re looking to take a new selfie to add to your portfolio or upload to Instagram, these 10 tips will help you to master self-portrait photography and get ready for your close-up.

#1 Prop your camera on a tripod



There are a handful of essentials every photographer needs in their kit, and a tripod is one of them. Whether you’re shooting your self-portrait on a smartphone, DSLR or mirrorless camera, using a tripod will set you up for success. It will not only reduce camera shake, but will also free up your hands. That way, you can experiment with different poses or framing and visualise your self-portrait ideas without having to worry about managing your camera at the same time.

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love

#2 Use a remote control

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love



Along with a tripod, a remote control for your camera can make your self-portrait shoot run much more smoothly. Once you’ve nailed your pose, you can discreetly fire off the shutter of your camera with a click of a button — rather than fumbling around for the shutter, then trying to recreate your position. 


As for how to take self-portraits, some cameras require you to use a dedicated remote. But most modern cameras have a built-in WiFi or Bluetooth connection, so all you need to do is download an app on your smartphone.

#3 Make the most of self-timer



Don’t have a remote? No worries! You can use the self-timer function on your camera instead. There are always a few self-timer lengths on offer, ranging anywhere from 3 seconds to 10 seconds. Smartphones usually have self-timer enabled for the front-facing camera (aka the selfie mode), which makes your life even easier!


The key to a good self-portrait is all in the prep. So, once you’ve mounted your camera to a tripod, spend some time finding your pose and position. When you’re ready, press the self-timer button and get into position while your camera’s counting down.

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love

#4 Set your camera to burst mode

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love



With the burst mode setting switched on, your camera will take multiple shots in a row without you having to repeatedly fire the shutter. This gives you the time and space to play around with different poses and framing, and have plenty of images to choose from in the editing stage. Plus, it helps you to capture a thematic series of photos.


Speaking of settings, it’s a good idea to shoot in manual mode if you’re comfortable with that. You’ll be able to tweak the shutter speed, exposure and ISO to your liking so you have full control over the results.

#5 Think about your framing



You may be taking a self-portrait, but that doesn't mean careful composition goes out the window! While you might be showing off a new outfit or hairstyle, do your best to be creative with your image composition. In other words, avoid positioning yourself in the dead centre of the frame — it’s unnatural and reminds people of school photo day!


Instead, follow the Rule of Thirds and position yourself at an angle.  This will add depth and interest to your self-portrait. You also want to make the most of negative space, and fill the rest of the frame with the sky or another scene or landscape. All of these techniques will balance out your portrait and make it more impactful and visually appealing.

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love

#6 Find the right light

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love



The “right” light can differ from image to image, as some darkly lit self-portraits are incredibly beautiful and moody. But generally, you want to have more light to manipulate when you’re shooting your image.


If you’re working with natural light, aim to shoot during golden hour, the hour before sunset. During this time, the angle of the sun produces a soft, warm light that’s perfect for self-portraits. You can also consider using a reflector or bounce card to direct light in your favour and minimise shadows.

If you’re using artificial light, there are tons of portable LED lighting kits and ring lights that will do the trick. They’ll provide you with a consistent, soft, and even quality of lighting, which will help you to produce well-lit, creative self-portraits time and time again. Our advice? Position your light up and at a 45-degree angle to yourself for a crisp, bright image.

#7 Focus on your eyes

You know what they say: the eyes are the window to the soul. If that’s the type of vibe you want to capture in your image, make sure your eyes are sharp and in focus. Usually, portrait photographers manually adjust the focus, so they can pinpoint their subject’s eyes with precision. But of course, that’s virtually impossible with a self-portrait.


Luckily, many modern cameras feature autofocus technology that’s designed to recognise eyes and hone in on them. If yours doesn’t, here’s how to take self-portraits with DSLR focus. Try to concentrate on your face and open up the shutter on your camera ever-so-slightly so more of your image is in focus. This technique should leave you with sharp, striking eyes in your self-portrait.

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love

Top tip: You don’t have to look at the camera.If you’re a bit camera-shy, you don’t have to acknowledge the camera at all! Looking away from the camera is a great way to add mystery and intrigue and personality to your self-portrait, plus it has a nostalgic feel.

#8 Let your personality shine through

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love



This is easier said than done, we know — especially if you’re used to being behind the camera. While it can be awkward to “loosen up” in front of the camera, trust us when we say it will produce the most beautiful self-portrait. If you can let your guard down and allow the camera to capture the real you, you’ll end up with a portrait that not only reflects what you look like, but how you carry yourself in the world. 


Often, our families and friends have their favourite images of us that we’d personally never choose to post online. The reason they love them is because they capture who we really are, and there’s nothing better. After all, photography is all about emotion!


If you’re finding it hard to let go, try watching a funny or heartwarming video, chatting to a loved one or smiling a few times before firing off the shutter to relax your jaw.

#9 Experiment with props



This can help you to present your personality to the audience, too. Having a couple of carefully collated props in the frame can give people a glimpse into the type of person you are — or at least, the character you want to portray. The options are endless, but think books, instruments, flowers, jewellery or headpieces.


Props can also make for a more enjoyable viewing experience. Just be selective with your props and where they’re positioned — you want them to add to the story you’re trying to tell, not take over it completely.

9 tips for taking self-portrait photos you'll love

It’s time to experiment with self-portrait photography

Now that you know how to take self-portraits with a DSLR, mirrorless camera or smartphone, think about any gear you need for your self-portrait shoot. Shop online, and earn free shipping on all Australian orders over $100. Otherwise, drop by your local Ted’s Cameras store and our team will help you find the equipment or accessories you’re missing.


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