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How to Take Good Pictures of Yourself

Taking a self portrait with a tripod

There are times when you need a picture of yourself, but there isn't anyone else around to take that picture. Even though it is challenging to take a decent photo of something when you can't actually see, there are some tricks that will help you come up with an image you'll be happy to present to the world.

Setting Up the Background and Camera

Preparing the background and camera before taking the picture can help enhance the overall appearance of the photograph and make your job easier. Taking your own picture is challenging enough. The setup should already be in place.


The background should be a reflection of your personality and interests. Another option is to hang a solid-colored sheet for a neutral background. Keep in mind what color clothing you'll be wearing, too. You don't want a black background if you plan to wear black clothing. Instead, try to contrast the background and your outfit so you'll stand out to the camera without clashing against your backdrop.

Camera Stability

It is best to set the camera up on a tripod and use a timer or remote to trigger the shutter.

Portrait photo in soft light with blurred background
  • Once the camera is set up on a tripod, position the tripod so it is about five to ten feet away from the area you wish to photograph. You may need to look through the lens and try to guess the distance. Use a broom or stuffed animal to represent where you will sit. Keep moving the tripod until you have the shot you desire. The distance and zoom will depend on whether you want a close-up or full body shot.
  • Use the rule of thirds. Imagine the portrait as a grid, with your facial features aligned within.
  • Take a few test shots and see if

    the positioning is correct for the type of photograph you want.

Lighting and Angles

Avoid harsh lights as they can wash out your skin or make you appear haggard. Professional photographers try to take photographs in soft light. There are a couple of ways to achieve this. You can use natural sunlight near a window or outdoors. If you plan to use natural light, you'll want to take the photograph in the morning well before 11 a.m. or at sunset. The softer light of early morning and the gentle glow of sunset offers the most flattering illumination.

If you plan to take the photograph indoors, try to soften any harsh lights. Use indirect light by aiming the light at a wall behind you or at a white poster board and letting the board reflect the light toward you.

Your camera should already be set up, so take some more sample photographs to test the lighting. Is the object that represents you illuminated enough or too much? Do you need to soften the light or add additional illumination?

Blur the Background

Portrait photographers typically blur the background slightly and have a sharp focus on the subject of the photograph. Most cameras have a portrait setting that will automate this process for you and it is best to use that setting since you will be using a timer or remote. Apply the setting and then focus on the object that is your focal point substitute. Take a few more test photos to make sure the settings are the way you want them and then do not move the camera again.

Best and Worst Poses

Your pose should be natural for you. Practice different poses in front of the mirror and decide what look you like best. Don't forget to try different facial expressions as well, including a variety of smiles.

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