Lizzy Gadd’s photography truly shows the difference between a “selfie” and a self-portrait

Aug 5, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Lizzy Gadd’s photography truly shows the difference between a “selfie” and a self-portrait

Aug 5, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Selfies are probably the most common photographs created today. Most of us shoot them, but how many of us shoot them the way Lizzy Gadd does? Lizzy photographs herself in the various landscapes of the world and her work truly illustrates the difference between a simple “selfie” and a “self-portrait”.

Lizzy’s also the subject of SmugMug’s latest film, which sees her exploring Scotland’s beautiful Isle of Skye looking for new worlds in which to place herself. She talks about her motivation and technique, and it’s fascinating to listen to her insights and thought process.

YouTube video

On the SmugMug blog, Lizzy says that she’s quite particular about the mood in her work and that her favourite photos involve moody weather, mist, sunrises and sunsets. She says that weather plays a huge role in conveying the mood, and so do the locations. I can’t disagree with that (it’s one of the reasons I moved to Scotland myself).

But there’s more to it than that when it comes to self-portraits. You also have to be a master of previsualisation. You need to be able to look at the scene and know exactly where you need to be in order to balance out the shot, the right angle and pose to fit the mood, and you have to have a reasonable estimation about how the light is going to hit you once you get there, too.

But it’s not just a case of setting down the camera, walking into position and hitting a remote shutter. Lizzy shoots timelapses, allowing her to pick out her favourite shot from the sequence, without having to awkwardly tie up one of her hands with a remote trigger. It also allows her to forget about the camera and focus on the moment. To experience it.

Lizzy’s journey with self-portraits began in 2010 when she decided to tackle a 365 project with herself as the subject. She shot a year of self-portraits every day, and every day was an experiment. Lizzy says that the constant practice and feedback on her images allowed her photography to grow more quickly than at any other time.

At the time of doing the 365, Lizzy says she didn’t really have a style, and on the very last day, stood in a freezing lake, surrounded by mountains and nature, it hit her. And that’s what has led her to where she is with her work today.

Lizzy’s work is very interesting, and extremely impressive when you consider that she’s both the photographer and subject of her images. Relatively few people out there can even capture this kind of feeling and consistency when photographing other people, which is a whole lot easier than trying to photograph yourself when you can’t see exactly what the camera sees.

Lizzy offered up a number of tips for shooting self-portraits on the SmugMug blog, and they’re well worth a read. Many of the tips can equalyl apply to any type of wilderness location photography involving humans, too.

If you want to see more of Lizzy’s work, be sure to check her website and follow her on Flickr and Instagram.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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7 responses to “Lizzy Gadd’s photography truly shows the difference between a “selfie” and a self-portrait”

  1. Kristy Slicker Avatar
    Kristy Slicker

    If only we could all travel the world to take our selfies…

    1. Markus M. Schmidt Avatar
      Markus M. Schmidt

      Would be great … but, why not take the selfies around your home … explore the place where you live and you will be surprised how interesting it is … I did explore my hometown Dortmund (yes, the hometown of the football club Borussia Dortmund 09) in Germany and learned so much more about it and found some very interesting places. They don’t look like in the pictures above, but still I am impressed.

  2. Carter Tune Avatar
    Carter Tune

    Hey, That one guy did “up” his selfie game, when in Spain running with the Bulls he stopped running to take a “selfie” and was gored in the neck by a Bull. Too bad he didn’t get the shot; but he somehow miraculously survived.

  3. Stee Green Avatar
    Stee Green

    That’s all good if you don’t have kids to feed and bills to pay

  4. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    I don’t do selfie, and do travel to places. I don’t need to be in the frame to tell friends that I was there.

  5. Michael Zinn Avatar
    Michael Zinn

    Lizzy, Your work and perspective on life are awesomely beautiful.
    The video touched my soul.
    Its sad that no one commented on how beautiful it was and instead reflected their own negativity and limits.

  6. Robert Ausura Avatar
    Robert Ausura

    Lizzy, your work and this film show us all what can be done if we take the time to explore, learn and develop a vision–and don’t give ourselves excuses for not doing what we love.