The Evolution of a Self Portrait

Self portraiture is always an interesting  topic. I hear photographers say they're scared to jump in front of the camera and to a certain degree, I get it. But if you are going to put yourself in front of the lens  I think the safest way to do it is through self portraiture. Yes, it can be intimate. But it can also be freeing and a way to build your self confidence.

Here's the thing: we all know by now that it takes AT LEAST 10 or so shots to get that one - true or false? There's a reason culling is a discussion topic. It's because we know EVERY picture isn't worth keeping. EVERY picture isn't amazing. Some are just okay. Some are straight poo. The more you do this and embrace the process, the more you embrace that fact. So why should a self portrait session be any different?

I've had self portrait sessions where I've taken literally 200 photos in the span of 30 minutes and only have 5 I find worth posting. But that's okay, because in those 5 I feel beautiful. I feel daring. I feel powerful. I feel vulnerable and I feel untouchable, simultaneously. I only need those 5. And here's another fun fact: no one ever has to see the other 195. So that one where I was kinda cross-eyed? Yep, getting tossed out. That one where my gut was poking a bit? GONE! That one where my arm looked super awkward at that angle I thought felt artistic but in reality just looks dumb? No one shall ever know it existed. (...except now, because I'm telling you guys. But I trust you'll keep my secret). 

So if you're feeling uneasy, I encourage you to jump in front of the camera. Please. And if your first session doesn't go right, figure out what was throwing it off. Maybe it was the lighting. Maybe it was the posing. Maybe you need a prop to hold so you don't feel awkward. Maybe you didn't like your outfit. Pinpoint the issues, delete the evidence, and try it again. Keep trying until it clicks, because eventually it will click. And it'll be beautiful. Promise.

Sometimes I'll do a self portrait session with a goal in mind of what I want the final images to look like. And sometimes I nail it. Other times I start off on one path and end up on a whole other path. This was one of the times and I have photographs for each stage, so I thought I'd share (just in case anyone made it past the "dear diary" moment at the top lol just know you're the real MVP).

Here goes:

1. Originally I had an idea to take a self portrait on my bed. I had on this turtleneck sweater with leggings & socks and I wanted it to be very simple. Just me sitting cross legged on the bed. So I took these.


BUT I wasn't a huge fan of the light. It just wasn't doing it for me.

2. So then I decided to switch to my go-to spot next to my window and incorporate some flowers. Because you can never go wrong with flowers. I didn't really want my face in it anymore because I envisioned just my body & the flowers. So I ended up taking this.


It was alright, but I still wasn't in love.

3. Then I started toying around with holding the flowers in front of the lens and using them to add depth to the frame. I really liked the way these were turning out so I played around with that for a bit and took these.


When I started with this idea I had on my sweater, but I could see it peeking through and didn't like that, so I removed it so my shoulders were bare. I liked the natural feel of that a lot more. At this point I liked the path I was on incorporating the flowers so I continued with that.

Here's a snap of how I was setup as I was photographing. And a quick iPhone selfie I took in the middle of the session, because why not? lol


4. I kept playing around with the flowers and liked how I cold use them to cover myself up along with adding depth. And that's how I ended up with my favorites from the session below.


And there you have it! Even though my ending version was totally different from the vision I started out with, I still ended up with photos I love. Trust the process and don't be afraid to veer from the path you originally had laid out. Sometimes self portraiture (and photography in general) is about going with what feels right in the moment. You can always circle back to your original game plan if things don't pan out. Experiment, and have fun! 

Read more posts about self portraiture:

One Space, Ten Self Portraits

10 Soulful Self Portraits: Series I

10 Soulful Self Portraits: Series II