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What is your opinion on self-portraiture? It might be a form of art you're unfamiliar with, a genre you admire from a distance, or even something you'd like to experiment with one day. It might put you off because you're afraid of appearing vain or because you simply don't consider yourself good enough for it. Believe me, you are certainly good enough for it.
(If you're interested in finding out how to actually take self-portraits, check out this article.)
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Chances are that some of the striking portraits you deeply admire are of the photographer themselves. Given how unbelievably talented people are, it can be a real challenge to find the difference between portraits of other people and self-portraits. Photographers like Cristina Otero transform themselves into different characters that look nothing like each other, while others – like Gina Vasquez – recreate dreams with the help of editing programs and their incredible imagination. Bailey Elizabeth's self-portraits possess a haunting atmosphere one can't get enough of, while Cassoday Harder's nostalgic film shots are reminiscent of warm childhood days. Though all of these creators take self-portraits, they shape their experiences and dreams into unique photographs that are difficult to forget.
Since there are multiple ways to create self-portraits, you can invent a sub genre for yourself that will fit what you're most comfortable with. In this article, I'll focus on 5 interesting ways you can take self-portraits. I kept all kinds of individuals in mind whilst coming up with this list, from confident artists to ones that are a little more shy. Whoever you are, I hope at least one of these points sparks an idea in your creative mind. 🙂
Faceless portraits involve the photographer without exposing his or her face. This could be a collage of details like hands and clothes, or a mirror reflecting the back of your head. It could be something that barely reflects your figure. Be as experimental as you want with this. Faceless self-portraits are ideal for those who aren't comfortable being in front of the camera. If you simply don't want to show your face, don't feel pressured by those who do. As you can see, there are many creative ways to express yourself without being recognizable. By taking self-portraits you're comfortable with, you'll achieve two significant things:
- You'll be more familiar with a new genre of art
- You'll challenge your artistic patience since self-portraiture involves a lot of experimentation, very little help from others, and many failed attempts at getting the focus right. Though this is bothersome at times, it greatly sharpens patience. I personally find that this type of patience helps me in simple day-to-day situations that don't even involve photography!
Admirers of minimalism and interesting lighting techniques will love the honesty and simplicity of closeups. Don't let this simplicity fool you, however. There's more to a closeup than meets the eye. Since the focus is very specific, light must decorate your face in a way that accurately reflects your desired emotions. In addition to that, you need to be acutely aware of your expression, pose, and hair. I know this sounds a little daunting, but taking closeups can be a fun experiment. Even if the results never end up in your portfolio, you'll develop a better relationship with light. This will make future experiments easier to work with.
Conceptual self-portraits are elaborate, deeply meaningful, and thought-provoking. A few talented examples of conceptual artists are Alex Benetel, Brooke Shaden, and Nicholas Scarpinato. These artists are experts at composing, posing, and putting everything together in editing programs. Even though they all fall under the same category, their work remains original. Some conceptual photographers use editing programs like Photoshop and Lightroom to perfect their shots, while others use completely free programs like GIMP. Some create surreal sets and don't edit their work at all! There's no right or wrong way to take a conceptual shot. As long as you have an idea that makes sense to you, you're more than welcome to join the realm of conceptual self-portrait photography. 🙂
Spontaneity and self-portraiture may not go hand in hand all the time. After all, you're in charge of your camera's timer. But what if you let the timer count down without being too aware of it? What if you suddenly decided to change your hairstyle, pick something up, or change your pose? You could even start dancing randomly or flailing your arms. Anything would do! Some of the results might surprise you, inspire you, or just make you laugh. If you keep trying, you'll come across a spontaneous gem you'll be proud to call your own.
Before I came across self-portraits that supported this term, I associated abstract art with paintings only. When I began to experiment with abstract self-portraits, I was pleasantly surprised to see how unpredictably creative they were. Abstract self-portraits, unlike faceless ones, can feature a face. Like faceless self-portraits, they can be unclear and hard to understand at first. Abstract portraits can be silhouettes, figures hidden behind slightly transparent textures, or impressively edited double exposures. Almost any kind of material can be included to create these shots. The unpredictability of abstract art is what draws me to it time and time again. If you like anticipating unexpected results, finding new material to work with, and being very experimental in both the shooting and the editing processes, abstract self-portraiture is for you!
As you can see, self-portraiture is not just a single world filled with the same mundane concepts. It's a universe filled with an abundance of diverse planets. I understand why some people might be tempted to pay little attention to it; self-portraits are often associated with selfies; it's easy to worry that everyone will consider your hard work useless because of that association. Despite all the controversy surrounding selfies, you can still fearlessly express yourself through any kind of art. Selfies are great for documenting precious moments, and self-portraits are just as great at freezing time in their own special ways. In my opinion, both can be beneficial and rewarding if approached with a positive mindset. 🙂