Creating Portraits on Both Sides of the Camera

So far this year, we’ve worked in Light Painting, Candlelight, Ambient Light, Refraction and Natural Light. It is time to turn the light on ourselves with self-portraits. It is said that portraits are made on both sides of the camera, the challenge is to be the one person on both sides of the camera.

Like many photographers, I am far more comfortable on the back side of the camera. When I move in front of the camera a thousand things run through my head. Who will see this photograph? What will they think when they do? Am I too old? Too fat? Too ugly? Is my skin flawed? My personality? Am I singing off key?

Technically it requires being able to “see” blindly through the lens. I must imagine what the final product will look like and set up at the right location with the right lighting.

You can use several technical approaches to take this photo:

  1. Cell phones require that you have long arms or a selfie stick. Set the phone to timer mode: 10 seconds. Hold the camera away from you and shoot. #amillioninstaselfiesplusone
  2. Grab a tripod and set the timer feature on your camera. Mine blinks with a red light to warn me that the shutter is about to take the photo.
  3. Grab a tripod and a remote trigger. You can find brands like Vello on sale for under $10.
  4. Grab a button pusher. Setting up the shot and having someone else push the button allows you the most freedom. I control every aspect of the shoot except pushing the button. This allows me to have the button pusher shoot from low, or high with minimum time spent in making the adjustments. Far more flexibility than a tripod.

 

Before you press the button, I am suggesting you start with time to consider the following:

 

Is there a concept? How will this photo be used? Professional headshot? Instagram Post? Do I want something unique or just uniquely me?

 

I like to “see” the photo in my head and often scratch a version onto paper. This allows me to consider which lens I will use and whether to use a distortion lens or refraction tool. Will I tell a story?

 

Can I convey who I am without appearing in the portrait? Can I convey the story with just hands? or beloved chotskies? or shadows? 

 

Will I smile? Joy is a true expression of my inner self. But then again, so is quiet, or serious, or exhausted.

 

The challenge is to create authentic portraits your inner self.

 

 

 

 


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