Ever wonder how some people who are seemingly traveling or living alone take such great pictures of themselves? Well, wonder no more. This article will tell you exactly how to take spectacular pictures of yourself.
I’m often asked the question, “who is taking your pictures”? The answer to that question is usually, “I take my own pictures”.
Since I happen to be in most of the pictures that I’m taking, this often leads to a more in-depth conversation of how I take my own pictures.
I’m revealing all my secrets in this article. With the steps below, you’ll be able to take spectacular pictures of yourself. No selfie stick or Instagram boy/girlfriend required.
Select your camera of choice
To take spectacular pictures of yourself, you don’t need a fancy camera. Many fantastic pictures are taken using regular cell phones.
I use a combination of my cell phone and my Sony mirrorless camera to take my solo pictures. The quality of the picture is better with the Sony camera. But many people won’t notice the difference between a picture taken on a cell phone or a fancy camera, especially on social media.
So if you really want a fancy camera to build your photography skills, go for it. But it’s not necessary to take amazing solo pictures.
Invest in a tripod
One of the first steps to taking incredible solo pictures is to get a tripod.
A tripod is a great way to create different heights and angles that mirror the actions of a human photographer. While you could rest your camera on an object like a ledge or a bench, you can’t always count on an object being in the right spot to support your camera.
When deciding on what tripod to use, you’ll want to consider a few different things:
- Will the tripod support the weight of my camera? Some lightweight tripods will collapse under the weight of heavier cameras. When considering tripods, review the tripod’s description to see how much weight the tripod can bear.
- Is the tripod portable? There are some tripods that are simply too heavy to carry around. You want a tripod that is sturdy enough to support your camera but light enough to travel with you.
- Is the tripod easy to set-up? If your tripod takes too long to set-up, you can miss great shots. Or you might decide it’s too much effort to set-up. Read reviews to confirm the tripod is easy to set-up.
Here are some great tripod options:
- All-around best tripod. This is the tripod I use both at home and while traveling. It supports my mirrorless camera, is relatively light compared to other tripods, and is quick to set-up and takedown.
- GorillaPod tripod. This tripod is great for crowded locations, uneven terrain, or tight spots. Because its legs are flexible, you can wrap it around things like light posts or trees.
- Ring light tripod. If you’re taking pictures in poor lighting, this tripod doubles as a light and a tripod. It can’t support as much weight as other tripods, so I sometimes take the light off my ring light tripod and rest the light on another, heavier-duty tripod.
Use a remote or timer
Your next step is to figure out how you’ll trigger the camera to take a picture of you. There are several options you can use:
- App on your phone. Many cameras have apps that allow you to remotely control your camera with your phone. This is the method that I use.
- Camera remote. You can also purchase a remote device that will trigger the camera’s shutter function. If you go this route, make sure to confirm the remote is compatible with your camera.
- Interval shooting. Some cameras have a function that triggers the camera to automatically take a picture every few seconds. This allows you to quickly take multiple pictures of yourself in different positions.
- Timer. Another option is to use the timer function on your camera. You’ll set the timer from the camera and then will move into the frame before the camera snaps a picture. This is an option of last resort. Your pictures can be blurry because your camera doesn’t have enough time to refocus on you before snapping the picture.
Take a short video
Another great option for taking spectacular pictures of yourself is to film a short video.
I often use my GoPro to record short videos of myself. I’ll slowly move into several different positions while the GoPro is recording. I can then use the GoPro app to “grab” a photo of myself from the video.
I find this method increases my likelihood of getting an amazing picture. Instead of relying on the camera to snap a picture at just the right time, the GoPro is capturing all the images that occur while filming.
Try different poses
After you’ve set-up your camera to take a picture, it’s time to pose!
You’ll want to try several different poses to increase the chances of finding one that works best for the situation. In most cases, squaring yourself to the camera and looking straight at the camera is not going to yield the best result.
Instead, try angling your body in different directions slightly away from the camera. As you shift your body, also try shifting your eyes to different locations. You can look at the camera, slightly away, or completely away.
Using a phone app that connects to your camera is especially useful in this situation. With the phone app, you can see how each position looks and can make adjustments while you’re taking the pictures.
Try different tripod placements
Another trick to taking great solo pictures is trying different tripod placements. This involves adjusting the tripod height and also adjusting the tripod location.
First, take pictures using different tripod heights. Your eyes and body positioning will naturally change when the camera is shifted to at, below, or higher than eye level. This will give you pictures from different angles and perspectives. Over time, you’ll likely find a particular tripod height that results in the most appealing pictures to you.
Next, position yourself in different locations compared to the tripod. You can move closer or farther away from the tripod, or you can move to the left or right of the tripod. Like the tripod height, you’ll likely develop a preference for positioning the tripod relative to you and the background.
Lighting, lighting, lighting
If real estate is all about location, then photography is all about lighting.
Lighting can make or break your picture. Nearly everything else can be great about a picture, but if the lighting is poor, that’s what will attract the eye.
If you’re taking a picture inside, try to find as much natural light as possible. I take pictures next to my patio window to take advantage of the natural light. If natural light isn’t possible, I use a ring light with bright white light to stimulate natural light.
If you’re taking a picture outside, consider the location of the sun in the sky and relative to you. For example, if you take a picture with the sun to your back, you’ll likely be in shadow and the sky will be extremely bright. If you take a picture with the sun immediately overhead, you’ll probably end up with lots of shadows hiding your face.
When I’m outside, I prefer taking pictures immediately before sunrise and after sunset. I also prefer taking pictures where the camera is facing away from the sun. However, those are just my personal preferences. As you practice taking pictures during different times of the day, you’ll develop your own preferences for positioning according to the sun.
Practice before the big trip or event
Whether you’re taking pictures of your dream trip or a special celebration at home, you’ll want to practice beforehand.
By practicing, you learn how to use your tools in advance so you don’t waste time on the big trip or event learning how to use your tools. Plus, practicing increases the likelihood that you’ll leave the trip or event with good pictures.
Practice taking pictures that stimulate the situation you’ll be in. For example, if you’re planning on taking pictures at a scenic overlook, can you practice taking pictures on a balcony or rooftop to stimulate the height? If you’re planning on taking pictures of famous buildings, can you practice taking pictures with buildings in your hometown?
By practicing beforehand, you increase the likelihood of getting spectacular pictures of yourself when the big moment comes.
Consider your wardrobe
There are certain wardrobe choices that I know don’t work for me in pictures.
Wrinkled clothing, patterns, pale colors, and voluminous material don’t look good on me in pictures. That’s led me to wear wrinkle-resistant, slightly-fitted clothing in solid, jewel-toned colors for pictures.
You may find different types of clothing work better for you.
When you practice taking your pictures, try on different pieces of clothing, too. This will help you to determine what looks best on you in pictures.
Research other people’s pictures
Before going on a big trip, I’ll look at other people’s pictures of that location.
Ultimately, you want your pictures to showcase your own unique perspective. But examining other people’s pictures can help you envision the possibilities of a particular location.
Plus, when you’re first starting to take your own pictures, it can be difficult to conceptualize what looks good.
You’ll eventually develop your own aesthetic and perspective. Until then, you can utilize other pictures for inspiration (while still putting your own spin on the pictures you take). This will help you to take spectacular pictures of yourself.
Check your pictures before you leave the location
The first time I ventured out into public to take pictures of myself, I spent three hours at the Lincoln Memorial.
The lighting had been awesome, there were very few tourists, and I’d gotten some great angles.
When I pulled up the pictures on my home computer, I was instantly disappointed. Every single picture was blurry. Every single one.
I hadn’t learned how to use a remote yet and was using my camera’s timer to take pictures. I would set the timer, then rush into the frame in time for the camera to take a picture. But the camera didn’t have time to refocus on me, so I was blurry in all the pictures.
So I learned several lessons that day — use a remote or phone app to control the camera, practice taking pictures to correct these issues in advance, and check your pictures before you leave the location.
Use editing tools
Many photographers use editing tools to take their pictures from great to spectacular.
When you’re first starting out, I recommend using the free editing tools on your computer (like Apple Photos). Once you’ve mastered those, move on to the more advanced, but still user-friendly tools (like PicMonkey and Canva). If you really want to take it to the next level, move on to Adobe Lightroom CC.
Each of the tools is progressively more advanced and progressively more difficult to use. I recommend using the basic (and free or cheaper tools) first so that you’re not overwhelmed all at once.
And there you have it! Those are the tips that I use to take solo pictures while traveling and at home. I hope this article has helped you learn how to take spectacular pictures of yourself. I can’t wait to see the results!