FIRST OF ALL: This is not a step by step instruction manual as to how I take my photos. I feel like writing that would encourage others to try and take photos ‘my way’ – something I really don’t want you to do, but not for selfish reasons. This is a post designed to inspire, motivate and encourage you all to fall in love with photography, just like I did. I want you to find your own way, your own style and own exhilaration in taking photos. If you have any specific questions, comment below & I’ll be sure to answer.
When I first started blogging, I thought being in my own pictures was not an option. No one was around to help, I didn’t really know what I wanted other than to have photos ‘like the bigger bloggers’ and it all just seemed pretty impossible. So I stuck to product photography…for all of 1 month. I needed another creative outlet that wasn’t just photographing still objects. I wanted to get more into fashion and lifestyle posts, and having endless pictures of velvet teddy just wasn’t cutting it for me. I wasn’t satisfied with what I was putting out there so I decided to do something about it.
Sound familiar? Then this post is for you.
Having literally no one to take a photo of you that’s A) Nice (?!?) B) Instagram worthy C) Exactly what you were after, is a thing most bloggers have to deal with. Yes, it’s incredibly frustrating. But this post isn’t about to focus on the negatives (fyi – none of my posts do). One of the biggest positives you could EVER gain (in general), stems from the lack of photographer behind your camera lens; it genuinely forces you to get more creative. More creative with shots, with lighting, with angles, with movement (list is endless). This inevitably leads you to find your photography style (post coming soon).
So I thought I’d take you through how I currently (early 2018 for future reference) take my own photos. This isn’t a step-by-step guide as such, mainly because the way I currently take photos consists of a lot of playing around. But I’ve had a lot of questions on this ever since I’ve settled into my photography style so I really hope this is helpful & encourages you to give it a go.
Ever since I started taking photos of myself, by myself, I’ve always been using the Sony NEX-6 a5000…which no longer appears to be sold anymore. This was my family camera that only ever had it’s lens cap taken off around once a year for our holidays abroad. I’ve since rescued the camera from the horrific life it once had and it’s now used practically every day. I. Love It.
It has an eyepiece to look through and if you’re thinking about getting a new camera, I would TOTALLY recommend getting one that also has one as opposed to looking at a screen on the back of the camera. Through the eyepiece is a digital screen (not the actual lens view). You can easily pick up on every detail in shot for e.g if it’s straight, symmetrical, if there’s corner of signs being in the shot etc. It also means I can see where the focus is through the screen actually telling me. Gold dust.
The lens I’ve used up until 2 weeks ago where a new addition to the family arrived, was the f.3.8-5.6/16-50mm. The lens I’m currently using (and used in these photos) is the 1.8 50mm.
Get. A. Tripod. I don’t even wanna think about the amount of time I wasted balancing a camera on a poorly constructed leaning tower of cardboard boxes. If you’re tight on money a.k.a how I’ve been living my life since secondary school, amazon is your best bet. This is the exact tripod I use and only £13.99. It has 3 sections where it can extend, a head that can allow for both portrait and landscape photos (v. important to me as I can create different type of shots) and comes with a bag. If you’re wanting to invest, I highly recommend Manfrotto after attending one of their blogger events last year. I bought myself a little Pixi Mini tripod for when I’m vlogging and it’s such good quality!
It’s worth mentioning, I’m pretty tall at 5ft10 and with all of the tripod extensions at maximum length, it just manages to meet me at eye level. If you’re shorter, which 99.9% of everyone I’ve ever met normally is, then you’re good to go.
One quick thing, I wouldn’t advise just getting a tripod and setting it up at the same height and angle every time. You’re pretty much inviting a ‘photography rut’ round for dinner every night. Try taking photos from slightly higher and slightly lower. How to know you’re doing it right? You’ll see parts of your face/body you’ve never seen from those angles before. Still not really over that part of self-shooting but it’s all part of it…
Most cameras have inbuilt wifi systems and I’m lucky mine actually does seeing it’s so old it’s not even sold anymore. With the corresponding app, I can remote shoot till my heart’s content. THIS is the feature that makes or breaks my photos.
For those of you unfamiliar with remote shooting, once all connected, I can see exactly what my lens is capturing on my phone. I can press the shutter, adjust the white balance, exposure, f-stop, and most importantly, focus, all from my phone. It really is a god send for lone shoots as I have terrible patience with myself. This feature alone prevents not only out of focus, blurry disasters, but also stops me quitting all together. There’s only so many ‘wtf is that, thats not going on my insta’ shots i can deal with. I connect to an app on my phone created by Sony called ‘PlayMemories’.
If you’re wondering how I’ve taken the photo without a phone in my hand to press the shutter, no it’s not sorcery or a really sick job at photoshop. I put on a self timer of around 2 seconds to help me get the shot I need. Yes, it does include several outtakes the first few times you do it, but with practice you can be done in 5-10 minutes (my average shoot time at home).
Being able to see yourself pose through your phone is actually great practice for when someone else is taking your photo. I’d highly recommend. I know others recommend just posing in the mirror, but at least this way you get a few pictures out of it right? You get to know your angles, when you look like a potato and when you don’t, what it feels like to stare directly into a lens and feel comfortable/confident at the same time. Practice makes perfect.
With lighting, I make sure to turn every single house light that may be affecting my shot OFF. The horrible yellow/orange tinge is not welcome in my photos unless it’s edited in on purpose. On some occasions, I’m shooting in near darkness (thank god for editing). I only ever use natural light. All of my photos are taken with a window nearby so draw those curtains, roll up the blinds and get posing.
P.S some of the more interesting, layered photos I’ve taken, that actually REALLY help develop my own style, haven’t included me being ‘well lit’. Unless it’s for a YouTube video, I’m rarely sat directly in front of my window, face on, with all the ‘good lighting’ you could ask for. It adds nothing to my photos.
My point is, play around a bit. Get to know what shadows are created where and how, take photos that are interesting to YOU and that YOU love. It adds so much more.
Playing about, being flexible and being experimental are essential ingredients when wanting to get some good photos (if I do say so myself). It helps to make your photos uniquely yours. You thought of that angle, you spotted that light and you posed. Hard.
My worst nightmare usually happens when I’m in a rush to take photos (which I like to think of as never but life happens yano). It usually means the tripod doesn’t move. It’s stagnant. And neither do I really. Just the same angle, keeping it at either portrait or landscape, same light, different poses. BOR. ING.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the tripod, move around the room, play with the light and experiment. I’m gonna expand on this post when it comes to writing up my Photography Style post because I could honestly write a dissertation on how important it is to being playful with your shots.
Props can either make me feel 10x more comfortable in photos, or make getting the shot 10x more difficult. You’ve got the lining up of the picture to think about, the DON’T BLINK, the posing, the eye contact, the DON’T BLINK, the ‘do i look creepy staring into the lens’ thoughts, making sure to press the the shutter button, the OH GOD I’VE PRESSED ‘TAKE’ HERE COMES THE COUNTDOWN and making sure your phone is out of the frame before it’s taken. So incorporating a prop into all of that can be tricky, but if you’ve got the patience (and an empty memory card for all the outtakes) it can definitely pay off.
In my last post, you can see I’ve used a coffee mug as a prop to help give off a more ‘homely and chilled’ vibe in my photos. Ok, secret here: the mug was empty. But I felt it was a contributing feature to creating the vibe of the shoot…I think it went well anyway.
I hope this helped to answer some of your questions, but most importantly, inspired and motivated you to test the waters. I didn’t want this post to be a manual as to how I take my photos, because in all honesty, I’d want you to find your own way in doing it. That’s exactly how I fell in love with photography and I want others to feel the same.