Photography Technique

9 Creative Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Taking a creative self portrait is one way to express who you are online. You can use it to update your social media profile or add a fresh headshot to your personal website, replacing outdated images of yourself from the past.

Whether the setting is casual or formal, finding a way to make your self portrait unique will help you stand out from the crowd.

Here is our list of creative self portrait ideas that you can try.

1. Reflections

9 Creative Self Portrait Photography Ideas

Reflections are all around us, but very few people stop to notice them. In self portrait photography, they are ideal for capturing images of yourself from a whole new perspective.

You can look for reflections in mirrors, windows, and bodies of water, but setting up the right self portrait can be challenging. Try adjusting your height to get the right angle, especially if your image is being reflected in water that is low to the ground.

Take some time to set up the composition and play around with what you can see in the background, including what’s in the shot and what you can see in the reflected scene. Luckily, when it comes to self portraits, you have plenty of time on your own to get it just right.

2. In Water

A womans face semi-sumberged in water

One way to capture a self portrait that is truly unique is to immerse yourself in the element of water. It can create a composition that is soft and dreamlike, without the distraction of material possessions.

You don’t have to travel out to the ocean or a lake either because a bathtub or pool works just as well. To set up the image, you will want to keep the camera close to your face, using the water to frame the picture and leaving out anything else in the background.

Glare will be one of the biggest challenges, but shooting at dawn or dusk makes it easy to keep the sun out of shot. The light will also be softer at this time and ideal for casting warm golden colors.

There are a few more tips and tricks for capturing photos of bodies of water that will similarly help in this situation, including using a filter and bringing along a tripod to help compose the shot.

3. Obscured Face

Three self portraits where the face is obscured, using hair, flowers, and a mirror.

Obscuring your face in a self portrait creates a sense of mystique. It can add to the feeling of curiosity about who the person is by not revealing everything in plain sight.

It’s also practical for people who don’t want to show their face on social media, letting them be anonymous at a time when anyone can find out who you are with a quick search online.

There are lots of different objects you can use to obscure your face like holding a bunch of flowers or using a mirror. For those with long hair, you can use it to hide your face from view while also adding a windswept look to the image.

4. Flat Lay

Three flat lay self portraits of the person in shot lying on the ground

A flat lay image is created by taking a photograph from directly above a subject looking down—think bird’s-eye view—while the subject is lying flat on a surface.

You can keep the background minimal by going for a grassy field or a basketball court, or you can try adding objects to the frame to add context.

5. With a Camera

Man taking a self portrait using a mirror that is surrounded by summer hats.

Including the camera in your self portrait adds interest because it partially obscures your face. Besides that, it’s also a great way of showing the world that you’re passionate about photography.

We’ve all seen camera selfies like this taken on a phone, so try pulling out your DSLR or film camera for something different.

6. Motion Blur

Self portrait of a woman whose face and hair is blurred in motion

Motion blur is another technique you can use that works well with more artsy self portrait poses. Depending on the scene, it can help create a distinct moody aesthetic.

If that’s the expression you are going for, you can try it out by setting the camera to a low shutter speed. When you’re ready, place the camera on a tripod, set a timer, then spin your head as the camera takes the shot. This should result in your head being blurred while the rest of the image is in sharp focus.

Have fun experimenting with different shutter speeds for alternative results. You can also read our guide on how to capture motion blur in photography for a more in-depth look.

7. Black and White

A black and white self portrait of a woman

Don’t underestimate the beauty and creativity that goes into black and white self portraits. With so much vibrant color aimed at grabbing our attention these days, black and white photographs can stand out as quite unique.

As a challenge, try taking a picture using the black and white setting on your camera, instead of adding a filter later or editing the image in Photoshop. If you’ve never tried it before, we have a beginner’s guide to black and white photography to help get you started.

8. Shadows

Self portrait of a man with shadows cast across his face

Sometimes it’s the absence of light that draws us in, which is true in the case of using shadows to create a self portrait.

Shadows that cast a pattern can highlight your skin in an interesting way. The classic choice is usually to use the light shining through the gap between a curtain to create areas of light and shadow on your face. You can also do the same with slated blinds if you want to create lines of shadows.

A key setting to play with is the aperture, a small aperture will create high-contrast shadows with sharp lines, whereas a large aperture will soften the shadows and diffuse the light.

9. Colored Lights

Self portrait of a woman with colored lights on her face

Instead of choosing traditional lighting techniques to illuminate your self portrait, try adding in some color, it’s a great way to add energy and life to a photo.

Look for things inside your home that you can use as a light source, such as fairy lights or a color-changing light bulb. A projector also works really well for this purpose and playing around with different color palettes will help set the right mood.

Exploring Creative Self Portraits

Creative and unique self portrait photography is a genre that’s perfect for expressing who you are. Along the way, you will be able to experiment with new lighting techniques, explore new angles, and play around with props. And the results should help you stand out from the crowd.

Try casting shadows on your face, capturing your image reflected in glass, or showing your camera in the portrait. There are lots of fascinating ways to take a self portrait, so you don’t have to settle for something boring.

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