Tentang Self Potrait in Photography
March 13, 2009, 12:11 PM
by Yogi Sujiwo
Self portraits are tough for a number of reasons; you can’t see
yourself to know how you look until after the fact (tip don’t forget to
suck that gut in). Setup can be more time consuming due to the running
back and forth setting timers. Focus is difficult because again you
can’t see where that focus point is resting and if you are using a
timer mode there is a chance you weren’t in the frame when the camera
found something to focus on.
On the other hand, shooting self portraits can be invaluable because
you learn how to direct people for better portraits. What? I mean, that
as you walk yourself through a portrait (of yourself) you gain insight
in how to explain to people how to pose (you learn how to pose). The
best way to direct people is to show them what you want and if you can
do it for a self portrait, you can show your subject how to pose for
you. Another benefit is you can move your lights, angle you camera, and
just do plain crazy things a subject such as friends, family or a
client might not have the patience for (unless you pay them well).
So what to do? Well here are some ideas (tried and tested) to
increase your chances for getting that self portrait to look like what
you had planned in your mind (or close to it). Of course everything
might not apply to you, but there are sure to be a few tips that you
could apply and benefit from, and no matter how well you prepare there
is always room for improvement.
The DPS crowd seems to be a group of DSLR owners for the most part
so I will assume you are using a DSLR, but everything discussed is
applicable to other digital cameras (and some of the discussion can be
applied to film).
Pick up a tripod. Nearly any tripod will do so I
won’t go into much detail, but the tripod is essential as it gives a
flexible yet sturdy mount for the camera.
Pick up a remote; if you are using a Nikon or Canon
camera there are wireless remotes available for the less expensive
DSLR’s that cost about $20. These things are a real time saver and make
it easier to fine tune your self portrait without looking all sweaty by
photo number 20.
Shoot tethered; most digital cameras have a mini
video if not a HD video out. I borrowed my son’s DVD player (the one he
watches movies in the car with) on multiple occasions for the sole
purpose of shooting self portraits. This is where the remote comes in
great; you can fine tune the composition by watching that little
monitor, without having to run back and forth. If you have a newer DSLR
with an HD out then you could hook up your laptop or HD monitor.
Lighting, a single flash can do wonders for your
portraits. I won’t go into any lighting details, but photography is
about capturing light. You don’t need to buy a flash, I first started
learning lighting using work lights. You can pick up a small but
powerful work light from home depot for around ~$15.
Coming up with ideas:
Time to talk about technique. I think where most people get stuck on
self portraits is the coming up with ideas (I know I struggle here).
What really got me going was thinking about what I own and how I could
use it in a photo. Now I am not just talking about props, but I am
talking about features also. One of my prominent features is my bald
head. So could I work that to my advantage?
Just thinking about my hobbies and past times, inspired all sorts of
photo themes. In fact when I sat down and listed items, I quickly had
more self portrait ideas than I could shoot in a single month (shooting
a theme a day).
Environment, sometimes environment can inspire the image. For instance one night of January was extremely foggy.
Another environment I used was my previously extremely pregnant wife.
Creating a theme:
Two items make a photo, the subject and backdrop, and I think that
they are equally important. This is where your lens choice comes into
play. A long lens allows you to send the back ground out of focus and
narrow down the amount of background in the photo. A wide lens keeps
the background in focus and allows it to be a key part of the image.
Either way the background is playing a big factor by being a key
element or by not distracting from the subject.
Background is key:
Dress the part:
In fact the clothing was a big part of my inspiration for any
particular image, so you could say my clothing was what set the theme
and I just had to act the part (and I mean really act). Two simple
articles of clothing I found very useful were an old brimmed hat and my
leather work gloves. Though the items were small and pretty common, the
items were great for creating a theme.
Want your photos to look boring, then act bored. The facial and body
expressions you make are huge in setting the tone of the photo. This is
where having a tethered setup can really help (you will be able to see
results and nail it down). Aim for over the top, I mean really go
crazy. The more emotion you show the better the photo will turn out.
If you are trying to act angry, think of the guy who cut you off on
the freeway and let out your pent up rage. If you want to look like you
are happy then think of the guy YOU cut off on the freeway and laugh
out loud (DPS does not condone cutting people off on the freeway).
Look at your photos:
When you are done look through the photos and see what worked and
what didn’t. Make notes about what you liked and didn’t like. Enjoy
looking though the photos. If certain photos didn’t turn out then do
them again. If you do it right your going to love it!
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