Dreaming in the bath

Shooting self-portraits vs models

I often feel really uncomfortable posting pictures of myself online, particularly those that are more stories than portraits or family photos per se. I worry that friends will think I’m vain and everyone will realise just how much I’ve warped, cloned and flat out repainted the images. Often the image is not meant to be a literal interpretation of me so much as a character that I’m creating. I don’t even see it as myself when I’m editing, just a face, a figure, a dress.

There are pros and cons to creating self-portraits, as I’ve discovered along the way. Feeling like an idiot (even when shooting at home) is the paramount con for me and increasingly the wrong body shape and saggy face. Corsets are fast becoming my best friends! Difficulty with focus, camera position, overshooting, shot timing, all these things make shooting selfies frustrating at times. And there’s always that embarrassing moment when you get sprung prancing around in a public place in not much more than your underwear and a curtain!

However the good news is you always have a model available at a moment’s notice, you know her dress size and she’s not going to cancel at the last minute (unless you want to!). She’ll pose just the way you want without having to tell her and she’ll follow you into swamps, lakes and creeks. She’ll climb trees, rummage through abandoned buildings and generally go anywhere you are game enough to go.

I get very self-conscious when directing models and often miss a shot because I’m too shy to ask them to do something. However it’s always a joy to work with a beautiful face and the benefits of being behind the camera are well worth the time taken to plan and set up the shoot. Many of the models I’ve worked with so far have been really open to ideas and are happy to get a little uncomfortable for the sake of a good shot. I’ll usually put a lot more thought into a shoot with a model and arrange a makeup artist, hairdresser and assistants if I can. Things I would never indulge in if I was shooting myself, but can make a big difference to the overall success of the shoot.

So the next time you are out and find a great location but think “this would look great with someone standing just there” consider shooting yourself (um, with a camera, selfies really aren’t that bad!). Or jump onto Model Mayhem and hook up with a local model, MUA and stylist. Either way, just keep making stories. :)

4 thoughts on “Shooting self-portraits vs models

  1. Helen Dean

    Lovely Image jane, . . . but I cant help wondering about the rest of you, were your legs all scrunched up in a bath, defying your tranquil expression or did you set up in a swimming pool and then add the ‘soapy water’ quality in Photoshop ?.

  2. admin Post author

    Yep legs all scrunched up around the taps lol! A dash of milk in the bath but I put too much in at first and had to let half the bath water out and refill it a bit. Seemed like a good idea until I realised the hot water tank was empty!

  3. donna

    Lovely shot Jane. What a great self portrait. I have done a few self portraits not in public though, just in my garage. I did mine without a remote so it is a major lesson in patience. I agree it can be strange when people ask why you photograph yourself in an artistic way, my response to that is why do we do anything. Why do we post bad party headshots from our mobiles, why do we post what we had for breakfast, why do we post the weirdest of weird things we see on facebook. So an artistic self portrait can’t be all bad.

    Donna Hewitt


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