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By Jason Lewis
The selfie may be the most popular type of picture today. In many peoples' mobile phones, there’s a good chance that there are a lot of photos of them, and those photos more than likely are self portraits. A selfie can be a great photo, but typically, it’s just a point and shoot shot. There’s so much more that can be done with self portraits than looking into your phone and pushing the shutter button.
Self portraits can tell the story of who the photographer is, where he or she is, or what activity he or she is doing. The photograph can be a straight forward picture of the photographer, or the environment (negative space) can be used to help tell their story. Photographers can also set up creative shots and put themselves in it.
Usually a photographer takes profound photos of other people, but typically are not in the pictures. Self portraits gives photographers the opportunity to be the subject and to be a part of the vision that they are creating. There's no need to hand the camera to somebody who does not understand the composition rules that you know, or look for another photograher who happens to be in the area.
The simplest way to do a self-portrait is to put the camera on a tripod, line the camera up, and either use the camera’s timer or use a remote shutter button. Remote shutter buttons are inexpensive, and make it much easier than using the timer, where you’ll have to run back and forth to the camera to push the button. With the remote, after setting the shot up, just hit the button as many times as you like. The one draw back is that the remote in your hand may end up in the photo. It’s simple to hide it, and usually it won’t be too noticeable. You could set the camera on a two-second timer, hit the button on the remote, and then you’ll have two seconds to put the remote in your pocket and then quickly pose yourself. One other way is to put the camera on an interval timer, if your camera has that feature. With that setting, the camera will take a certain amount of photos over a short period of time.
The self portrait is greater than the selfie because there’s more that a photographer can do with the camera on a tripod, or sturdy object (table, desk, chair, etc.). With the selfie, the camera is tied to a person’s arm, so selfies are always at arms length. There are a lot more options with self portraits. You can take the photo while looking into a mirror, take a photo of your reflection in a window, or set up a scene that you’d like to be in. The photographer is composing the image, using composition rules, opposed to just holding the phone in their hand and pushing the button.
This assignment can be done with a DSLR or a mobile phone. Remote shutter buttons can also be purchased for cell phone cameras, and they are pretty cheap. Less than $30 at most electronic stores. Mini tripods can also be used for cell phones.
For this assignment, selfies can be submitted. But it should be a really good selfie. Most selfies are just plain old selfies. But many people will knowingly, or unknowingly, use composition rules to create some really great selfies.
The self portrait does not have to be a solo picture. Family members and close friends are a part of your story.