Whether you need to practice your photography skills, expand your portfolio, or refresh your profile picture or CV, self-portraiture photography is ideal for this. What’s more, a creative photoshoot like this allows you to explore both your physical and inner self.
To add more artistic value to your works and challenge your photography skills, we’ve compiled a list of 18 creative self-portrait ideas. They all come with a brief description and examples to help you achieve the best results. Check out our inspiring ideas and practical tips below.
In case you’ve missed it, we have a guide with useful advice and ideas on taking different kinds of portraits, a curated collection of contemporary portraits, and an article with basic tips for posing for portrait photos.
18 Creative self-portrait ideas
#1 Photograph yourself in a reflection
Incorporating reflections into a frame is one of the most common, yet creative self-portrait photography ideas. An infinite amount of surfaces can assist you in diversifying your composition and creating one-of-a-kind visuals. These include water, glass, mirrors, screens, and metallic surfaces. Moreover, photographing self-portraits on reflective surfaces also allows you to shoot from behind the camera, which greatly simplifies the arrangement of the photo.
#2 Hide your face behind objects
Partially hiding your face with objects will provide another point of interest to the picture and result in an eye-catching composition. You can hide your face with anything: hands, hair, flowers, leaves, branches, lights, and so on.
#3 Intrigue the viewer with shadows
To add more intrigue to a photograph, utilize shadows. Similar to the technique above, you can hide some parts of your face or body with shades. Also, look for places that can cast interesting shadows on you, like lace curtains, palm leaves, water, or architectural elements. If you’re worried about ever-changing natural light, choose artificial lighting. Using it, you’ll have more time to play with composition and angles.
#4 Go abstract with double exposures
Shoot using multiple exposures to produce unconventional and artistic self-portraits that wow your audience. Even the simplest idea can look complicated with this method. Utilize a film camera to combine two or more exposures into one image, or overlay them in Photoshop. For the best result, simply use a dark outline against a bright background.
#5 Take a milk bath
If you strive for atmospheric and minimalistic images, try shooting in a milk bath. The aesthetically pleasing combination of water and milk can be used to cover the face or body, and highlight desired features. Although this self-portrait idea is difficult to implement, a photoshoot in a milk bath will help you better understand the specifics of the process; all in order to further use it with clients, boost creativity, and create standout visuals.
#6 Get much closer
Focusing on one body part or unique physical trait is an easy self-portrait idea, yet it still helps to come up with photographs worthy of a magazine cover. An intimate portrayal of your scars or wrinkles can tell a story and impress more than full-body shots. A close-up of your hands holding a pen, paintbrush, or musical instrument can subtly reveal your personality.
#7 Leave your face out of it
Sometimes, faceless portraits amaze even more than those with a powerful gaze. They pique the viewer’s interest and compel them to puzzle out the subject’s face, emotion, or story. The sole downside to this approach is that you cannot rely on facial expressions. Therefore, to create an interesting and engaging composition, make use of location, poses, or creative props.
#8 Find new angles
Your camera position during a photoshoot is crucial to the final result. Usually, photographers tend to shoot at eye level. However, changing viewpoints and experimenting with angles can interest the viewer and open up sides to yourself that you’ve never seen before. But be careful, since low-angle shots will make you look bigger, while high-angle photographs will make you appear smaller.
#9 Have fun with color gels
Color gels are not only interesting to look at, but they are also fun to play with. Such a simple addition to your photoshoot is bound to create outstanding pictures with a certain mood or atmosphere. While relying on your own taste is fine, a professional approach can help you find the most visually pleasing color combos. Examine the color wheel to add mind-blowing effects to your photographs.
#10 Embrace one color scheme
Building your photoshoot around a single hue is a sure way to create unique, almost magazine-like photographs that speak for themselves. Choose a color that best represents you, suits your personality, or one in which you look harmonious. Your set doesn’t have to be all one color; you can get creative around a similar color scheme. For additional inspiration, check out our attention-grabbing summer palettes or cozy fall color schemes.
#11 Use your hands to express yourself
Another creative idea for self-portrait photography is to frame your face with your hands. In such photos, your face will be the focal point of the portrait, and your hands will draw even more attention to it. Combine different hand poses to find the best one. Place your hands on the temples, cheeks, chin, or neck. Alter the hand positions or leave one hand in the frame. Use this method to show off your make-up, manicure, earrings, or rings.
#12 Experiment with lights
Lighting experiments are among self-photography ideas that are worthy of your Instagram feed. Use a projector, LED lamps, or neon lights to create an artistic effect. They will make the simplest portraits look stunning, and are great for attracting attention, receiving likes, and gathering impressions online. Moreover, a photoshoot like this might help you improve your photography skills due to the difficulty of working with different lighting conditions.
#13 Show off your personality through costumes and props
If you were looking for an excuse to dress up, we found one! Various costumes and props can help you express yourself, showcase your artistic side or inner desires, as well as share about your personality or origin. Simply pick the character or an object you identify yourself with and get creative with it. These artistic self-portraits are excellent for storytelling and will outshine the vast majority of selfies on the Internet.
#14 Remove color
Both experienced and amateur photographers shoot in black and white to reveal emotion and highlight contrast, shape, or texture. Removing colors from your self-portraits allows you to create timeless and elegant visuals worthy of an art exhibition. Harsh daylight works best for black and white photography and helps emphasize contrast. Switch your camera to monochromatic mode or simply do post-processing to remove color.
#15 Hypnotize the viewer with your gaze
The eyes are the mirror of the soul; they show everything that seems to be hidden. A direct look into your camera lens will result in a striking portrait reflecting your personality. In such self-shots, your eyes become the focal point, making it difficult for the viewer not to look at them. A face-to-face perspective also makes viewers feel more connected to you. Choose this simple concept to get a powerful outcome.
#16 Capture motion blur
Motion blur allows photographers to produce dynamic and unusual portraits by slowing down shutter speed. This photography technique will help you create a sense of movement in a still image. Adjust the camera settings and move in front of it to capture that blurred picture. Long exposure can create the illusion of multiple people floating in one photo.
#17 Include a hat in the frame
Taking photographs with hats is a reliable way to produce exceptional self-portraits. This accessory can say a lot about your personality and set the tone for the photo. Choose different types of hats for different moods; a beret – for a romantic vibe, a panama – for a travel atmosphere, a classic hat – for elegant shots, a balaclava – to demonstrate a rebellious spirit, and a straw hat – for simplicity. You can also hide part of your face with the hat to make your self-shots more intriguing. However, don’t let it draw the viewer’s eye away from you.
#18 Leverage soft focus
Use soft focus to add soft edges to your photos and create a dreamy effect. A flaw in the lens optics causes this effect, which results in slightly blurred images. You can achieve soft focus with special professional or DIY lenses, filters, or post-processing. Trying out new creative self-portrait ideas is the best way to get outstanding outcomes!
A few final tips on taking self-portraits
- Use a tripod, self-timer or remote control, and burst mode to focus on the creative side of your photoshoot, rather than on the stressful process.
- Use autofocus if you don’t have elaborate backgrounds. It will help you save time and energy.
- Prepare visual references ahead of time and rely on them to streamline the creative process.
- Don’t be afraid to combine ideas from our list to create unusual compositions and eye-catching self-portraits.
Self-portrait photography FAQs
What is a self-portrait?
In photography, a self-portrait is an image made with a professional approach intended to showcase the photographer and their personality. A self-portrait provides more value than a selfie, since it produces artwork of oneself and requires more knowledge and preparation from the executor.
What is a selfie?
A selfie is a short word for self-portrait. It commonly refers to pictures shot at arm’s length with a smartphone’s front camera. Selfies have very distinctive composition, perspective, and angles.
What is the difference between a self-portrait and a selfie?
The difference between a selfie and a self-portrait has become increasingly blurred as technology advances. The key distinction is the image’s intent. Selfies are usually taken without any preparation in order to share them on social media quickly. On the other hand, self-portraits are typically staged and created to reflect the photographer’s personality and tell a story.
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