How Not To Shoot a Self-portrait
With One Light
Radio DJ’s often say that they have a face made for Radio. Hence the reason they aren’t on Television. (Unless your name is Ryan Seacrest)
There is a reason I work behind the camera, I simply hate having my picture taken. Probably because I am never happy with what I see in the finished result. YES – I am my own worst client. Not to mention that I have relatives who have spent a lifetime perfecting the art of catching me off guard to actually get a photograph that proves I was at a family gathering.
I recently had the great experience of losing 40lbs and decided it was time for some new marketing images. I didn’t want to shoot the usual guy holding the camera and thinking he looks cool because of it self-portrait. I wanted something that shows some personality. Since I loathe the process of having a portrait taken so much, I decided to have a little fun.
Now you may think this is a bit extreme. Possibly, but from a marketing standpoint it shows a lot of personality and that I like to have fun – hence fun to work with. During a shoot it is a great tool because when I am trying to get a new model to do something that is a bit goofy or show extra personality it is great to be able to point out to them that if the photographer can do it – they better be able to do it if they want to be a model.
The self-portraits that you see here and above are the result.
The Self-portrait Set Up
I went old-school. Since these were going to be full length shots that included my hands – I couldn’t use a trigger as it would be seen in the shot. So I did the shots with a self-timer set on a 10 second delay.
I mounted the camera on a tripod and shot with my Nikon D800 and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. ISO was 250. Exposure was 1/250th of a second at f7.1 aperture.
I set the camera at a height just below the midpoint of my body so that it would not be tilted up or down – it was important to keep the camera parallel to my body so that there was no distortion. I am only 5’8” so I don’t want to look any shorter!
I decided to keep the lighting very simple. One Light. It doesn’t get much simpler.
I used a white vinyl seamless backdrop which is only a few feet from a white wall on camera left. On camera right, I used a 5’ x 7’ white diffusion panel that I have mounted on the same closet track that I use for my fluorescent light fixtures.
A Paul C. Buff AlienBee B800 set at half power was on the other side of the diffusion screen.
Watch the VIDEO…
Be sure to watch the video above and take a look behind the scenes at the entire self-portrait shoot which took less than an hour start to finish. It took me more time to write this blog article than it did to shoot the images.
I hope you found this information useful. Now go pick up that camera and shoot something! Because your BEST shot is your NEXT shot!