A good outfit day naturally calls for a photo shoot. But finding someone to be your #OOTD photographer is not always an option, and sometimes a selfie just won’t cut it for that perfect Instagram grid. In an effort to be self-sufficient, I recently began testing my self-portrait skills, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons through the process. Here are some secrets to nailing the perfect shot solo.
Start with your creative direction
First and foremost, plan your composition—how close or far away you want to appear to the viewer, where there will be negative space, any angles of surrounding architecture you want to play off with your poses, and how your outfit will move within the frame. Next, keep in mind the mood you want your picture to capture, as well as how your picture and setting will fit into your Instagram theme or overall blog aesthetic, if that’s important to you. Find a place with light that will capture the look you’re going but that you can also control with your camera. Taking your own images can be quite a process, so make sure you know what you’re looking to achieve beforehand in terms of color palette, setting, and vibe, and have a plan in place.
Steady your camera
If you’re photographing yourself, you will need more than just a camera or a phone to capture your full outfit. Get the best results by opting for a DSLR camera and a tripod. A DSLR allows you to adjust and control the light in your photos more than a phone does, and the tripod provides a solid foundation while letting you choose where your camera is set up.
If you don’t have access to a DSLR, be resourceful. An iPhone takes very solid pictures, and you can edit them with an app like VSCO to better control the lighting, saturation, and framing. In place of a tripod, gather stackable items and a solid place for your iPhone to lean on so you can still capture your full look. You can also turn on the front-facing camera to see your look while you’re taking the photos (just keep in mind that the resolution is lower with front-facing iPhone cameras, so this may affect the quality of your images).
Find your focus point
If you’re using a DSLR camera, the next step will be to focus your camera so that you’re not blurry in your photos. To do this, you’ll need to make sure your lens is set to manual mode so that you can adjust it to the focus as needed. First, find the point where you will be standing in the image. I often try to put a prop that comes up to about my chest, like a ladder, coatrack, or additional tripod, in spot where I will be standing to help know exactly where to focus my lens. To adjust your focal point, turn the focus ring on your camera until your subject sharpens. Each time you take a picture, you can just go back to your camera to see where the focus of the image ended up. And feel free to move along the plane (i.e., from left to right) where you’ll be standing, but try not to move forward or backward, as you’ll have to readjust the focus.
Perfect your poses
A quick trick I’ve learned from taking my own OOTD photos is to use a mirror on the other side of a DSLR camera to get a sense of your body language and where the camera is pointing. There are also various apps, like Canon Connect and Sony PlayMemories Mobile, that allow you to connect your DSLR camera to your phone so that you can display pictures on your phone screen. This allows you to focus, zoom, and take pictures all while seeing what is going behind the lens right from your iPhone.
Try the self-timer setting or a use a wireless remote
So now it’s time to shoot! You can use your camera’s self-timer setting, but be warned: It may require a bit of racing to get the right photo, but a couple of tries will usually do the trick. I always put my self-timer at 10 seconds so I have enough time to fidget and set in my pose. If you have a DSLR camera, you can change the shooting setting to “continuous” so you can get multiple pictures in.
Another option is to purchase an inexpensive wireless remote, which can be found at most stores that sell camera equipment. A camera remote wirelessly connects to your DSLR and allows you to decide exactly when you want to snap your photo. It isn’t always 100% necessary, but it will give you more freedom than just using the self-timer on a camera, which involves a lot of running between your camera and your setup.
Take plenty of photos
Now that you’re all set up, snap as many photos as you can. Test the lighting by facing different directions, adjust your camera so that it captures different scenes and varying amounts of light, and try out tons of different poses. Make sure to periodically look through the pictures you’ve taken to see what you’ve gotten so far, too—you don’t want to end your photo shoot after all that work and realize you didn’t get the shot you wanted.
Above all, be patient with yourself—taking your own photos is a tedious process and one that can be difficult to perfect. Don’t let the frustration get the best of you when you are looking to get the perfect shot—all it takes is time and a bit of practice.
Do you have tips for taking your own photos? Share your advice below!
Featured photo by @kingkhadija.