Blog

Weekly challenge: take a self-portrait

For our first ever task, I’d like to know a little more about you. So, I’d like you to do a self portrait.

This isn’t a selfie.

Selfies are quick, fun, spontaneous, using the front camera on your phone.

A self portrait is more thoughtful. It’s about you, and not what you’re doing at that particular moment.

Don’t just rush in, take a photo and be done with it. Have a think, try a few different things and see what works.

Make it as easy or as challenging as you like.

Here’s a few suggestions to get the creative juices flowing. Give them a try, or do your own thing.

Things to think about

How much of you will you include in the photo?

Whole body shot? Just your head? Do you need to include your face at all? Not all of us like looking at ourselves in photos.

How will you frame yourself in the photo?

Will your shot be traditional, straight on? Perhaps you could emulate old portraits by sitting stiffly in a chair with your hands in your lap.

Could you play with interesting angles?

Perhaps you could use a mirror to play with reflections.

It’s fine to work with someone else in your household to help by actually taking the photo, or you could use a remote control for your phone or camera.

Where will you take the photo?

You could stand by a sunny window to get a high-contrast image with half your face in shadow.

Will you stand in front of a plain wall to make the photo just about you? Or will you include some aspect of your house or garden that means something to you, such as your bookcase full of favourite books?

Editing

Will you edit your photo? If so, what will you do to it? Perhaps make a sultry black-and-white, or use a filter to make it look vintage.

If you’re comfortable with editing photos, think about what could be done as opposed to what should be done. Would you want to add special effects, or make a composite, to make it really interesting? Or should it be left simple and understated, keeping the portrait about you and you only?

Pro level

If you already know how to handle a camera, here’s a few extra things to think about:

Lens choice

What lens will you use? If you use a wide-angle lens, you have a play with the distortion to get an interesting effect.

Aperture

Do you want to use a wide aperture to be more selective with your focus? If so, where will the main point of focus be? It doesn’t have to be your face.

Do you have to use auto focus? You could use manual focus to be really precise about where you’re focusing. If your main focus point isn’t the eyes, turn off the facial recognition part of your auto focus.

The rules

The weekly tasks are here to be fun and constructive. In order to accommodate different skill levels, I may add in ‘pro’ aspects to tasks to add more challenge for those who want/need it.

But, this isn’t school and it isn’t work. So:

  • You don’t have to do every task. Don’t want to do it? No worries. You don’t have to make excuses or report back. Just sit it out
  • I can’t keep coming up with ideas that everyone will be able to do every week. If you can’t do a particular task, but you’d rather like to, it’s OK to bend the parameters and do your own version
  • You don’t have to work by yourself. Get the kids, the other half, or your housemates involved
  • Don’t submit someone else’s photo as your own. Apart from the fact you may be breaking copyright laws, it completely defeats the point of the task. The tasks aren’t about who’s the best; they’re about learning and being creative
  • It’s OK to find the humour in situations, but don’t poke fun
  • Express yourself. Develop your own style. It’s OK to go and find inspiration, but just because a particular type of photo seems popular on Instagram (location shot with a long-haired, super-skinny girl in a sunhat looking away from the camera sound familiar …?), it doesn’t mean you have to follow suit
  • Nothing 18+, no nudes, and nothing sexually explicit, gory or violent
  • Whilst we’re in lockdown, the tasks will largely be home/garden-based. However, once we’re allowed to start emerging from our cocoons, we can start widening the net a bit

Want to get more involved?

Join our community to get help with your photography and connect with other members

Join the community

Get help with your photography and connect with other members over at our community on Mighty Networks

Read our other articles

featured image for the use a single light photography challenge

Weekly challenge: use a single light source

This week, the challenge is about light, not about the actual subject itself.

I want you to photograph something in your house or garden lighting it with just a single light.

Your light source can be anything. If you have any proper photography lights, then great. But, you could also use:

Read More »

Weekly challenge: take a self-portrait

For our first ever task, I’d like to know a little more about you. So, I’d like you to do a self portrait. This isn’t a selfie. Selfies are quick, fun, spontaneous, using the front camera on your phone. A

Read More »