17 Tips How to Snap Beautiful Self-Portraits

Daniel • updated July 22, 2022 • 9 min read

17 Tips How to Snap Beautiful Self-Portraits

Say goodbye to pixelated selfies. If you want to take really beautiful self-portraits, the 17 tips in this guide will show you how. Because it’s not as hard as you think to take your own picture.

The most important thing is to get ready and think about the setting. Here, you can learn how to take pictures of yourself that are both beautiful and fun. We explain to you how to Snap beautiful self-portraits you can be proud of.


What’s the difference between a self-portrait and a selfie?

A selfie is mostly a spontaneously picture of the face. The upper body is cut off at the level of the chest. Self-portraits are planned and tend to have a crop that is a little bit bigger.

They tell us more about the person. Or even less. In theory, it doesn’t have to have a head on it. Unless you want to make a new picture for your profile. The tools used are a clear difference between a selfie and a self-portrait.

No time to Read? – Self-portrait Quick Tips

  1. Use a good camera
    Self-portraits require a DSLR camera or mirrorless system camera. Here, you can alter settings that smartphones can’t. Selfies function best with tilting-screen cameras. This helps you see in real-time if you have the proper image details, location, and light.
  2. Use a Self-timer
    A self timer gives a delay between pressing the shutter release and the shutter’s firing. Shooting with the self-timer is a race against the clock, and it can take many more shots. If your camera has Wifi, connect to you your phone or tables and use as remote control.
  3. Use a Low F-stop
    For a nice self-portrait, use a lens with a quick aperture. The ideal lens would have a fixed focal length of either 35 or 50 millimeters with a maximum aperture of either of f/2.8 or less.
  4. Use Natural Light
    A stunning self-portrait requires excellent lighting. The ideal lighting is always soft, diffused natural light. Face the window when taking selfies if it lets in indirect light because direct light won’t work as well for photographs.
  5. Use Artificial Light
    If you want to go the extra mile, use a softbox, reflector or diffusor to light up the portrait.
  6. Use a Tripod
    A tripod is recommended, but you can hold the camera in place with anything that will work, and even a simple table is good enough for taking pictures. Even if you don’t have a tripod, you can definitely do it with a variety of other props.
  7. The location
    You can shoot in any room or place, depending on what you want the background to look like. Pure people like backgrounds that are just one color, like white, black, or gray. If your home is well lit, you can use it as a studio too.
  8. Props & clothes
    Make sure your clothes don’t look like they belong there. Colors can sometimes “clash” to make a special effect that makes you say “wow”. It’s good to have contrasts between the setting and the clothes.
  9. Choose the right pose
    If you want to take a photo of yourself that shows more than just your face, you can make it as artistic as any other portrait photo. The pose is also important, consider this well and try it out in several variations.

Taking self-portraits: the camera

You have to use an DSLR camera or mirrorless system camera if you want to take good self-portrait photos of yourself. Here, you can change settings that you can’t do on a smartphone or digital camera.

If your camera has a tilt screen that you can turn to the side and point in front of you, it’s very easy. A front display, which is built into the front of most compact cameras today, is another option.

Some tilt screens can’t be turned, you can help yourself with a simple trick: put a mirror behind it so you can see the screen. This is especially helpful when shooting inside since it’s hard to find a place to put your camera when you’re out walking.

Connecting the camera to a laptop or tablet and putting it where you can see the screen clearly is a very useful option.

Taking self-portraits: the tools

You have to use an DSLR camera if you want to take good photos of yourself. Here, you can change settings that you can’t do on a smartphone or digital camera.

Self-portraits work best with cameras that let you tilt the screen. This lets you see in real-time if you’re getting the right image details if you’re in the right place and if the light is right.

If your camera has a fixed display, you can either shoot at random or make a device with a mirror that lets you see the display and better control the shoot.

Most actual digital cameras have Wi-Fi for sending photos. This is great for shooting self-portraits because you can preview your photographs in real-time on a tablet or smartphone. Most apps provide remote camera control.

Use a fast lens with a short focal length to get a clear picture of your face. Ideal lenses have 35 mm or 50 mm fixed focal lengths and a maximum aperture of f/1.8 or f/2.8.

Tripod

When taking a self-portrait, the tripod is an important thing to have. You can mount your camera anywhere you want with these, and you can also use them to attach your flash.

Even if you don’t have a tripod, you can definitely do it. You can hold the camera in place with anything that will work. Even a simple table helps you take pictures, even though it’s not a perfect solution.

Self-timer

This is a very common solution because it can be done on any camera or cell phone. In this case, shooting with the self-timer is a race against the clock, and it often takes many more shots until the desired result is reached.

If you only take pictures of yourself, you don’t know how sharp the picture will be, and shooting with a low aperture seems hard or impossible in this case. If you focus on the background or something behind you, the picture won’t be clear.

So, unless you really want a shallow depth of field, a wider aperture will help you. You can also put the focus on something else in the scene, like a chair or tripod, instead of yourself.

Focus on the object, then switch to manual focus, press the shutter button, and move to the exact spot where the object was set. But you have to be very patient.

If you’re taking a picture with someone else, just keep your attention on them. Then, move quickly into the scene before the self-timer goes off. In the camera settings, you can choose how long the self-timer will take to go off.

Control by remote / shutter release

When it comes to remote controls, everything depends on how well they work with a certain camera. With this cool gadget, you don’t have to keep running to and from the camera to set the self-timer. So you have plenty of time to get ready before the shutter is opened. You just hold the remote shutter release in your hand and click when you want to take a picture.

There is a downside, though, in that you can’t focus, so you’ll have to help yourself again by focusing on a predetermined subject.

Assistant

An assistant can also help you take a self-portrait by pressing the shutter button.

Taking self-portraits: light and shadow

Even if there is enough light in the room or outdoors, there will always be times when you don’t like the shadows that are there or that aren’t there.

But whichever parts of your face are in the dark, or you want a shadow pattern, but your whole face is lit up. In this case, a flash can either make things brighter or, if used from the side, make shadows.

Softbox

A softbox spreads and softens the light. This is often what people want, especially when they want their shadows to look softer. But even if you use the flash to brighten, you don’t always want the face to be brightly lit and then use the softbox.

Reflector

It can be used when your face doesn’t have enough light. It replaces an extra light source. By putting it in the right place, you can align it very well and direct the light exactly where you want it to go.

You can buy reflectors in many different shapes and sizes, or you can make them yourself for cheap. All you need is a white sheet of cloth stretched over a frame, a piece of white cardboard from a hardware store.

Diffusor

This can also be easily replaced with a white sheet that has been stretched out, but in this case, the white sheet is not used to reflect light. You hold the diffuser in front of the light, which could be the sun or a bright studio lamp.

By making the area that is lit up by the light source bigger, it makes the light softer and prevents harsh shadows.

Also read about Tips for Selfie and Beauty Photography with Ringlight

The setting

Once the camera, lens, and tools are all set, it’s time to think about the “surrounding.” After all, the best way to make a good self-portrait is to make sure the light, background, and overall mood are just right. You could also use special make-up or dress up as someone else.

Always keep in mind that the camera, depending on how it is set, makes makeup look like it is “swallowed up” by the camera. So you can use a little more than usual when you pose for a picture.

The light

If you don’t use a softbox or a special photo lamp, your shoot should happen during the day near sources of natural light. Self-portraits can be taken in dim light, dark rooms, or at night, but this is more for experienced photographers who know how to set their cameras well.

For their first runs, beginners should look for a place with plenty of light. This can happen on a cloudy day or in a place with some shade.

You should stay out of direct sunlight because it usually makes shadows in your eyes that aren’t good.

The location

You can shoot in any room or place, depending on what you want the background to look like. Pure people like backgrounds that are just one color, like white, black, or gray.

If you look for a house with a brightly colored wall, like pink, sky blue, or red, you can be a little more daring.

If you don’t mind posing in public, you can find beautiful backgrounds in a park’s lush greenery or on a street with a lot of buildings. But if your home is well lit, you can use it as a studio too.

As you can see, there are a lot of options, and if you think about it for a minute, you’ll probably think of more. Remember that you have to match the theme, so look at what you are wearing first. If you stand in front of a blue wall in a different shade of blue while wearing a blue shirt, it won’t look good.

The props and clothes

If you want to take really special pictures of yourself, a solo shoot is a great way to let loose. Here, you can try out what you like without being shy about it.

You can choose your own clothes, make-up, and props. How about soft flowers, old-fashioned costumes from the country, or loud masks?

Make sure your clothes don’t look like they belong there. It’s good to have contrasts between the setting and the clothes, as long as the picture doesn’t look too busy in the end. Colors can sometimes “clash” to make a special effect that makes you say “wow.”

Choose the right pose

If you want to take a photo of yourself that shows more than just your face, you can make it just as artistic as any other portrait photo.

The pose is also important, so you should also consider this well and try it out in several variations, if possible, in order to select the best photo later.

For photos with an accessory, which you have with you or even in your hand, or for photos that show you at work or at your hobby, the right pose often results by itself.

But even if you are alone in the photo, you can give these very different statements. Try it out and look sometimes bold, sometimes in love, or thoughtful – you will soon see for yourself that you give your photo a different character every time.

If you underline this with the appropriate exposure, you can create real works of art with a little practice, which a photographer in the studio could not photograph better.

Also, try to take funny photos of yourself. Blink your eye, stick out your tongue, make faces or tussle your hair – when you see the photos, you’ll be surprised at your own possibilities.

If you find yourself smiling or grinning, the photo will surely be well received by your friends. Maybe you are a born entertainer by nature, otherwise, the photos show you from a completely different side and you surprise the viewers with it even more.

Extra tips for the perfect perspective

A self-portrait is not only influenced by the scenery and the chosen colors. The framing of the picture – known in the trade as the setting size – and the perspective from which the photo is taken also make a significant contribution to the overall mood.

Photographers usually distinguish between the following setting sizes:

  • Close-up: only a detail of a person (such as eyes or hands) is visible.
  • Portrait: The photo shows only the face.
  • Half portrait: The photo shows the face and upper body, up to the waist or hips, for example.
  • Western: The photo depicts the person from the head to just above the knees (like on old posters for western movies).
  • Half-total: The person is shown from head to toe and takes up the main part of the photo.
  • Long shot/supertotal: The photo shows a person and large to very large parts of the background.

Furthermore, professionals distinguish between bird’s-eye and frog’s-eye view.

  • In bird’s-eye view, the camera is positioned higher than the subject and photographs downward. In the frog perspective, on the other hand, the camera is positioned low, close to the ground, and photographs upwards.

Try to play with perspectives and not always keep the camera at eye level. Take photos from different angles and try out new poses every now and then until you arrive at a result you’re happy with.

For once, mass counts instead of class: The more photos you have at the end, the higher the chance that the perfect self-portrait will be there.

Editing your self-portraits

There are many editing apps that you can get for your phone and use on it. The best way to learn what each editing tool does, like fixing crooked images, making vignettes, sharpening, and brightening, is to try it out. 


Frequently asked questions

Is a selfie the same as a portrait?

Spontaneity looks different to me. Wikipedia: A selfie is a photograph in the manner of a self-portrait, often taken at arm’s length from one’s own hand. Selfies are often available on social networks and depict one or more people (group selfies).

Why do people take self-portraits?

You can use a self-portrait to tell your story, or a story that is important to you. Your customers can get to know you better through these photos. You can reach your target audience better with good photos and self-portraits.

Do I need a tripod for a self-portrait?

A tripod is your best friend, especially for self-portraits. You need something to keep your camera steady and secure – it can’t move or slip. With a tripod, you can easily set up and align your DSLR where you want it.

When you have adjusted everything on your camera, everything stays exactly the same, nothing wobbles and everything is ready for your photo.


Self-portrait example photos

 

What is your opinion on How to Snap Beautiful Self-Portraits? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Daniel
Daniel has been supporting the editorial team as a content creator since the end of 2021 and is mainly responsible for portrait photography and related practical topics around cameras, lenses as well as accessories.

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Your thoughts and questions

2 thoughts on “17 Tips How to Snap Beautiful Self-Portraits

  1. Nathalie Kee. says:

    The way people alter when they are suddenly in front of the camera is always fascinating to me. Most of us aren’t used to suddenly having all of our focus on someone else; their posture, how they stand, and even their facial expressions are all being watched.

    It always fascinates me how some people seem very carefree, extroverted, and fun before the photo shoot, but there isn’t a trace of that in the images. Others do absolutely nothing and have an iridescent effect on the images, while still others who were before quite calm suddenly blossom totally in front of the camera. Some people also mask their anxiousness by joking, laughing, and conversing constantly.

    The term “ideal” lighting has always seemed so nebulous to me. I interpret it rather differently from other people, who believe it to mean that you can clearly see the person’s face and that it should ideally be lighted as softly as possible to make them appear as ‘beautiful’ and wrinkle-free as possible.

    A single window’s exciting grazing light or dramatic overhead lighting can add so much character to a portrait. Simply put, it depends on what you want to convey through the image and whatever aspect of your personality you want to display.

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