Self Portrait ideas help


TPF Noob!
Jun 30, 2009
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Northern California
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Hello All!

I have a self portrait for my film class due in a few weeks and wanted a few ideas. I was going to shoot a few rolls (36 exposures each roll) I'm going to use my Canon AE-1 Program film camera. I haven't really used it yet and new to film. Any ideas on a self-portrait? I want to do something creative.

let me know if you have any ideas.

Hi Ryan,

I love these quotes about self portraiture:

“The camera always points both ways. In expressing your subject, you also express yourself.”~ Freeman Patterson (then I think about how much of yourself you express when that subject is yourself)

“We find truth and we create fiction with our cameras. It seems a natural thing to turn the camera around and examine ourselves, or even to recreate ourselves.” ~ Laura Kicey

Keith, above, is right that your creativity should come within; not so ironically, particularly in the genre of self portraiture.

Now, that being said, there are some technique and approach ideas that one may consider to stimulate one's own creative flow. I have used some of these suggestions with my own photography students on various occasions and, in all sincerity, I have received much self-portraiture work over the years that has been a joy to evaluate because of both the authenticity and innovative spirit so much of it embodies!

In other words, you can tell someone that they can try, for example, shooting into a mirror in such a way that the resultant image shows both a partial face and fully reflected face. That in itself will not detract from the self-portraitist's own unique journey within that exercise. It will still be his or her own!

Here are some of my own suggestions that I'm pleased to pass on:

(1) Don't try to do this project within a tight time frame. In order to capture different aspects of your personality, you need to give this some time. You have a few weeks to hand this in; take advantage of the time. Doing so over time will help you bring light to the different sides of you.

(2) Try to think about doing this work when you are feeling something more intensely; whatever the feeling is. If you're frustrated, go ahead and brood, but get your camera out while you're in that zone...

(3) Experiment with lighting, locations, indoor, outdoor, day and night.

(4) Above all, be comfortable with who you are. (better said than done for most of us) As they used to say, "Let it all hang out"; meaning that self-portraiture is not a project for the vain.

(5) Try some different sorts of things in your self-portraiture, such as:

Purposeful Distortion (ie. using a magnifying glass between the lens and you);
Mirror Image;
Doing Something About Which You're Passionate

Revealing Only Partial Face
No Face Shown; only shot from behind or using a Silhouette
Dramatic Single Point Lighting

Parts of Me (not necessarily the face)
Experimental (ie. Slow shutter; candle-lit; double exposures)
Being Comfortable With Being Silly
Shadow Play

These are some good springboards that I'm confident will help. Good luck fellow shutterbug!

thank you for the wonderful post steve! good advice. I plan on buying a few rolls of film today and start shooting! :)

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