Going outside isn’t always an option. This can be frustrating for photographers who want to have as much freedom as possible. What could you possibly do to enhance your portfolio and inspire yourself at home? Whether you’re hiding from a pandemic or staying away from unpleasant weather, why not give self-portraiture a shot?
Self-portraiture is one of the best genres for self-discovery and creativity. Shooting indoors comes with a whole new list of its own advantages. Indoor photos can teach you how to find potential in insignificant places. This can help you get creative in small apartments and seemingly unappealing corners of the world.
Here are a few creative self-portrait ideas to help you get started.
Limit Yourself to a Specific Aperture, Expression, Colour, Etc.
Too many options can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, give yourself a few limits. Here are a few ideas:
Use a limited amount of expressions. Try frowning, smiling, or laughing in all of your images. It might feel weird at first, but it will give you lots of fun(ny) results!
Stick to a specific colour theme. Use only pastel colours or try to keep everything in your self-portraits look as desaturated as possible. This exercise will force you to find beauty in everyday objects and will encourage you to leave your comfort zone.
Use specific settings. For example, you can shoot using an aperture of f/2.0 only. You can also use a slow shutter speed and move around to give your self-portraits a ghostly look. There’s really no limit to what you can do with your camera settings, but remember to keep at least one setting fixed throughout your photoshoot.
Take Colourful Night-time Photos with Fairy Lights
Fairly lights (also called twinkle, holiday, mini or Christmas lights) are perfect for night-time self-portrait photo shoots. All you need is a dark room and a string of lights. You can use any combination of colours that you like. I’ve found that multi-coloured lights work best, but that’s just my preference.
You can use the lights as backgrounds, foregrounds, or props. If you use red, green, or yellow lights, make sure you don’t stand too close to them. This will help you avoid unnatural skin tones.
Use Direct Light and Window Blinds
Direct light is light that isn’t diffused or manipulated in any way. It can be very harsh, but that’s what makes it perfect in self-portrait photography! If you combine it with window blinds, you’ll get dramatic shadows.
All you need to do is stand in front of window blinds when the sun is directly hitting them. Adjust your colour temperature so that your self-portraits don’t look overly warm. Also, make sure you don’t open your window blinds all the way. The more light you block, the stronger the shadows will be.
Ditch Your Tripod and Experiment with Unusual Angles
If you’re tired of the same old angles, don’t use your tripod at all. Place your camera on a sturdy surface, like a table or a bed. This will force you to adjust to your camera’s level, which can lead to unusual self-portraits.
It’s important to note that this can be risky. Avoid unstable surfaces at all costs to avoid unwanted accidents.
Shoot Through Semi-Transparent Material
If you shoot through semi-transparent material, you’ll get abstract and ghostly results. Make sure you’re on the other side of the material. You have to stand in front of a bright light source, like a window or a lamp, to create a silhouette.
You can use simply materials like tracing paper, curtains, or diffusers. If you don’t have any of those, you can paint a piece of glass and shoot through it instead.
Change Your Appearance With Temporary Tattoos, Props, Masks, and Anything You Can Find at Home!
One of the best ways to take fun self-portraits is to completely change your appearance. Here are a few simple ways you can achieve this:
- Use temporary tattoos
- Paint your face
- Wear a wig
- Wear an unusual outfit
You can also manipulate your appearance in an editing program like Photoshop. Even doing something as simple as changing your eye colour can make a huge difference in your work.
If Possible, Take Photos on a Balcony or in a Backyard
Some of us are fortunate enough to have access to gardens or balconies. Make use of this space when you take self-portraits. It might not seem like much, but it can give you many colours and backgrounds to choose from.
It’s much easier to take self-portraits when there’s an abundance of natural light. I took the photo above on a very small balcony. That small space was more than enough to capture the light I needed.
Make sure you take “outdoor” self-portraits when the sun is rising, setting, or somewhere in between. If the sun is high up in the sky, it will cast rough shadows on your face. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, avoid it at all costs!
Don’t Be Afraid of Close-Ups!
Close-ups can be intimidating, but they’re a great way to get creative with details. To avoid distortion, don’t hold your camera close to your face. Instead, shoot from a distance and crop your photos in an editing program later. You can also use a zoom lens.
To make your close-up self-portrait look interesting, you can play around with shadows, props, make-up, or anything that appeals to you in the moment. Remember that there’s absolutely no limit to indoor photography. If something looks interesting, try to include it in your self-portraits!
Staying indoors doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t need expensive camera equipment or a professional studio to take creative photos. All you need is yourself, your camera, and your imagination.
Don’t underestimate the power of simple objects like fairy lights and window blinds. Be open to using both natural and artificial light to enhance your self-portraits. Before you know it, you’ll be finding potential no matter where you are!
Taya Ivanova is a professional photographer and writer who specialises in portrait and fine art photography. She discovered photography at the age of 12 and immediately fell in love with it.
Taya’s work has been featured in photography magazines and on book covers. She has written over 400 articles about photography, travel, and self-improvement. She’s also an ambassador for 500px, an online photography community.