Five steps to creating epic environmental self-portraits
Do you like expressing yourself through self-portraits? That’s something I personally enjoy it, and I even think it can be beneficial in several ways. Sarah Lyndsay is a fellow photographer and she makes fantastic self-portraits. In this video, she will guide you through five steps that will help you to make breathtaking environmental self-portraits. And even if you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, you can still follow these steps when photographing someone else and end up with some epic shots.
Step #1: Confidence
Maybe you’re not too comfortable in front of the camera and feel much better behind it. But still, it’s not a reason not to try. Above all, you should love yourself to feel confident. All of us have some parts of our bodies that we don’t particularly like, but there are also the ones that we do. So, emphasize those parts of yourself that you love most.
Step #2: Have the right gear
It doesn’t have to be the best gear, but it has to be right for the task.
- Lens: Sarah most frequently uses Canon 16-35L f/4, often at its widest end. For environmental self-portraits, a wide-angle lens is a way to go and it’s her lens of choice. But of course, feel free to experiment.
- Tripod: since you’re both the model and the photographer, you’ll need a tripod to put your camera on. The ground, a chair, a rock can do the trick; however, a tripod lets you position the camera to the exact place and height you want.
- Remote: being in front of the camera means someone – or something – else should press the shutter. You can use a cable shutter release or a self-timer. I personally use an infrared remote, that’s probably my favorite gadget ever. An app on your phone can also be a good choice because you can see yourself while taking the photo. But if your hands are showing in your self-portrait, it can be tricky to hide the phone, so keep that in mind.
Step #3: Posing
Sarah shares a few tips and tricks for posing. If you don’t generally shoot portraits or self-portraits, they might come in handy.
Try to keep your limbs slightly away from your body. Squishing your arms against your body makes them look bigger, plus you will look tense. Give them some space to make the most out of the pose.
If you have long hair, Sarah suggests that you let it down and let the wind pick it up. Hair movement in photos makes them look more natural and “organic.”
More than just facing the camera: you can face the camera in your self-portraits, but you should try posing in all sorts of different ways. Turn your back to the camera, or turn sideways facing the light. Try sitting too, but make sure that legs are somewhat showing because it looks more natural and elegant. Finally, walking towards or away from the camera (even running or hopping a bit) adds some movement and dynamics to the photos.
Step #4: Clothes
You chose the right gear, the right location, and the right model – it’s time to choose the right clothes. Sarah likes to match colors to the landscape scene and uses clothes that complement the surroundings. Dresses are the perfect choice for her (and I tend to agree), but you can wear whatever you like, of course. And here’s a pro-tip: yellow works in many different scenes.
Other than picking the right color for your clothes is choosing the right kind of clothes. It all depends on the message and the feeling you want to convey, so it’s up to you. But Sarah suggests two useful life-hacks. First, hit thrift stores to get awesome dresses or costumes for less money. And second, you can cut a slit in front of your dress to add more movement to it.
Step #5: Composition
As I mentioned, Sarah most frequently uses wide focal lengths, so in the video, she focuses on working with them. She suggests that you think about the landscape scene first and add yourself to the image later.
Keep in mind that you want to draw attention to yourself because you’re the main subject. A strong foreground that leads the viewer’s eye to you in the scene is something to think about when finding your composition. Also, think about the horizon line and try not to visually “cut off” your neck with it.
Another thing to think about when working with wide-angle lenses is distortion. Try not to put yourself too close to the edges of the frame so you don’t look distorted. And finally, don’t cram too many elements in your shot – less is usually more.
[5 STEPS To Creating EPIC ENVIRONMENTAL SELF-PORTRAITS | Sarah Lyndsay]
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.