After documenting my most recent pregnancy through a series of self-portraits, one of the most common questions I get asked is how I managed to get in the frame so often. The short answer is practice of course, but below are some of my more practical self-portrait tips to get you started.
Use your camera’s Wifi.
When we moved overseas, I wanted a smaller camera to take with me as we traveled and I bought a mirrorless Fuji x100t. Equipped with wifi and paired with Fuji’s remote app for my iPhone, the Fuji x100t played a huge role in getting me in front of the camera. With the app, I am able to see the back of the camera, adjust settings, set the focus and press the shutter without getting up. My biggest frustration with taking self-portraits with a regular remote was not being able to see the frame without getting up to check the camera and nailing the focus. If your camera has wifi capabilities, look for a remote app for your smart phone and it will make your life so much easier.
Use the remote AND a timer.
In addition to using the remote app, I set a 2 second timer. This gives me time to hide my phone and assume a more natural position. If your camera doesn’t have wifi, most regular remotes will have a delay you can set.
Use a tripod… or don’t.
Some of my favorite self-portraits are ones where I just set my camera down on a random flat surface or had my husband hold it in place. I still use my phone as a remote if I ask my husband to hold the camera, but there are some angles that would be impossible to achieve with just a tripod. When I stopped relying on the tripod, I really started to have fun with self-portraits.
Include other people.
I don’t know about you, but I can feel super awkward in front of the camera when I’m alone. It helps to bring one of my boys into the frame so I can focus on interacting with them instead of where my hands should be or how my hair is acting crazy. I ask for kisses or hugs or I make them laugh (which makes me laugh) and I end up with pictures where I look relaxed and natural. More importantly though, I end up with images of me with the people I love.
Along those same lines, have something to do. Read a book to your kids, cook some food, go for a walk, nurse a baby. It helps so much for me to have something to focus on other than what I’m going to look like in the picture. With clients, we always come up with a few ideas of things to do during their session so they can relax and forget that there’s a camera in the room. I took that idea and applied it to my self-portraits. I try to focus on activities that I actually participate in because my goal with getting in front of the camera is absolutely to preserve these memories. A picture of me nursing my youngest will mean more to me than a picture of me helping work on the car; I breastfeed all the time, but I don’t work on the cars. As much as I love the shots that I have of me cuddling with my family, I really love the ones that remind me of how I fit into our daily lives.
Like everything, this gets so much easier the more you do it. I’m grateful that I had an entire pregnancy to commit to documenting. By the time I gave birth, getting in the frame on a regular basis was an established habit for me. It takes very little extra effort now for me to set up my camera and take a picture with my kids. Get in the frame and do it often. Don’t wait until you lose weight, don’t wait for the perfect moment, just start now. Your family will thank you.