Creative Self Portrait Photography for Beginners | Shea Jordan | Skillshare

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Creative Self Portrait Photography for Beginners

teacher avatar Shea Jordan, A girl with a camera and a vision

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Basic Equipment & What You Should Know

    • 3. Location Scouting & Finding Inspiration

    • 4. Getting Set Up to Shoot

    • 5. Posing: How to Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera

    • 6. Editing Your Final Photos

    • 7. Recap & Final Takeaways

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About This Class

This beginner photography course will cover all the necessary equipment, skills, and techniques to achieve beautiful professional-looking self-portrait photos. Fancy or expensive camera equipment is not required, as this class is meant to emphasize that anyone with a creative mind and willingness to learn can achieve stunning photos with little resources.

Whether you want portraits for your blog, social media accounts, or simply to build your portfolio, self-portrait photography is a skill that I believe all creatives should learn. It’s challenging, but it will push you to think so far outside the box that you might begin to wonder if there even was a box in the first place.

This course will include lessons on:

  • Basic setup for self-portraits
  • How to use a remote or self-timer with your camera
  • Developing your artistic eye in order to utilize light in a creative way
  • Finding the best locations for your shoots
  • Helpful tips including how to pose and how to become more comfortable in front of the camera
  • Best practices for editing your final photos

Class Project: During the course, students will be asked to find a simple location within their own living spaces to get creative and practice the learned self-portrait techniques.

While this is a beginner course, it is recommended that students have some prior knowledge of camera settings, lighting, and portrait photography. The more you understand about lighting and composition, the quicker you will be able to create more unique self-portraits. Once again, students will not need expensive equipment for this course. While it will be taught using a DSLR for the examples, self-portraits can also be done on any cellphone with photo and self-timer capabilities.

Meet Your Teacher

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Shea Jordan

A girl with a camera and a vision


Hi there, I'm Shea! I'm a photographer, writer, adventurer and lover of all things creative. 

I'm a big believer in doing what makes you happy and following your passions. I wanted to learn photography and decided the best way to do that was to just pick up a camera and start shooting. 

Now after years of experimenting with photography, I've found my passion within portrait photography. But recently, I wanted to take that a step further. In order to challenge myself, I started taking self-portraits with the self-timer on my camera and iPhone. It's not easy, but it forces you to be more creative and utilize the resources you have. 

I'm excited to teach courses on self-portrait photography, whether you want photos for your Instagram, blog, or to build a... See full profile

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1. Introduction: everyone. My name is Shay and Digital Content creator in Los Angeles, California I'm super excited to teach this class on self portrait photography because I personally have really come to love this art form, and I think it is super important for other photographers to know develop the skills. So I started photography around high school, but I didn't start getting more serious about it until college, when I realized that I loved portrait photography in particular. And then once I graduated, I decided to take my passion step further and experiment with self working photography, and I absolutely love it. It is so fun, and I'm so excited to show all of you how I take self Portrait's and how you can do it just as easily, even if you are a beginner photographer. I was definitely nervous to put my work out there at first, but once I started posting my self portrait, it was amazing the feedback in the comments that I was getting friends, family and even just other people who saw my pictures on social media. So if you're a content creator or a social media influencer, a blogger self portrait photography is key and it is so important to learn and will help you create and produce really, really great content for whatever social platforms you are using it for. For the longest time, I was worried that I would never be as good as my peers who had all this fancy equipment and camera accessories. But I soon came to realise, after experimenting and doing a ton of different photo shoots, that it's not about the camera or any of the equipment you have. It's definitely about the artistic mind behind the camera, or, I guess, in this case, in front of it as well. Just because you don't have the fanciest new technology of the most expensive camera doesn't mean that you can't take really stunning, beautiful self portrait. It's It's all about how creative, get how flexible you can be with your environment and how you can utilize everything you have. Following class will go over your basic set up for self portrait. It's how do you sell timers and promotes different creative aspects such as location scouting, posing tips and how to utilize like correctly. And then finally, I will go over a few of my tips for editing your final photos. It's best to have some knowledge of photography, which includes basic camera settings, how to use light, but it definitely is not required for this class. It's okay. You literally never picked up a camera before because I look over everything that you will need to know for this class. You won't need any fancy equipment for this. Just any sort of camera with a self timer or remote capability so it can be a DSLR or your cell phone or any other camera. Equipment is fine works for this class. I will be using any other lighting systems or camera accessories. So all you will need for this class is camera, some sort of lighting source and yourself. So if that all sounds good and you're ready to join me on taking some amazing self portrait , let's get started. 2. Basic Equipment & What You Should Know: All right, so let's go over what you need to get started. First off, you're gonna want to think about what camera you'll be. This could be a smartphone or a DSLR. I personally used my Sony 100 but some of you may have nicer cameras, and some of you may just want to use your iPhone. I just want to make sure that whatever device you're using has a self timer or remote capability on it. I know for sure that smartphones have self timers and different intervals, which will make it much easier for you to take. So if you have a Sony camera like I do, you can actually get an app on your phone. That's pretty cool, because it connects directly to the camera over WiFi, and you could see yourself when you open up the app, and it helps with posing along. But we'll touch on that later, so check to see if your camera has a similar capability. I'm pretty sure most of the newer models of cameras have phone applications that you could download and use as remote for your camera. Next, you will definitely need a tripod or some sort of surface to place your camera on. I have smaller taipan, a bigger one, but I've also definitely used chairs, stools, stacks of books or pretty much anything just to set up my camera. It's also very helpful, like I mentioned, to understand basic camera settings and lighting principles. So don't get too scared if you don't understand it. Basically, what I want you to remember is that you will always need some sort of light source for beginners. It's best to try and take your photos next to a large open windows so you can get nice natural soft light coming in. That would be the easiest place to take your first photos, and it's how I started as well. Most cameras nowadays, even iPhones have portrait settings, which you could most definitely use. Or you can even set your camera to auto just to get a hang of it in the beginning. But for those of you are more experienced, you'll know that you want to set your camera to a wider stop so you could give your portrait of rich depth that really makes it. You can definitely also grab some props as well to play around with during your photos. So now that you have your surprise ready to start, let's get a little bit more in depth about finding the perfect location and getting set up to take photos. 3. Location Scouting & Finding Inspiration: so the whole point of photography or any art form for that matter this to be able to convey a message or express emotion throughout our so think about what story want to tell and what emotion you want to convey. I find inspiration in so many different aspects of life. Sometimes it's fashion or some clothing that I want to incorporate into my next shoot and all builds an entire photo shoot around that secluding. Other times, it's like it could be the way light hits your room at a certain point in the afternoon. Or maybe you have a favorite artist whose paintings have colors that just absolutely have to incorporate into your next photo shoot, Whatever it may be, fine. What inspires you and use that to really fuel your creativity and your next partridge? So take your source of inspiration. Build your shoot around it to create cohesion and meaning. Trust me, you'll be a lot less stress if you choose one thing and expand on that, it's OK to get excited about new ideas, but trust me, you'll have plenty of time to do other photo shoots with different things. Stick with one idea for now. And don't overwhelm yourself. So to start off your project and want you to take a look around your house and look at it with a new fresh perspective. Steve, there any spots with great lighting or maybe a cool chair for couch? That would be a great props for your lighting is important here, so keep in mind how the light will influence the tone. Drama and intention behind your photo light in the middle of the afternoon is much harsher than a morning or evening glow, so keep that in mind and pay attention to how your house looks for your location. Spot looks at different points in the day. Bottom line is remember the inspiration and the meeting that you're trying to convey in your clothes. You'd be surprised how many locations you often overlook within your own home. That would actually make a perfect photo spot. So keep this in mind. Look at your house with fresh new perspective and figure out her inspiration and let's get started shooting 4. Getting Set Up to Shoot: So now that you've found your perfect location and are ready to start shooting, you'll need to put your camera on your tripod or your study surface. But don't worry. You'll probably need to readjust a few times to get the perfect distance and angle. Definitely take a few test shots just to make sure that everything is in focus. Or if you have a flip up screen like I do, you can always look at yourself and then you find her while you're posing and getting ready to make sure that the angle is perfect and exactly in the place that you want. If something isn't looking right, I definitely recommend trying to move the camera. Two completely different a distance were ankle because that might be the problem. Maybe you're too close to the window. Maybe you're too far. Don't immediately give up if it's not looking exactly how you intended it to. Sometimes you just need to change the claiming, the angle, the distance, all those types of things for our class project. I definitely want you to be in front of a nice open window, but just remember that you don't want the sunlight blasting in and overexposing your photo so, like I said, make changes accordingly. I typically do a mix of medium shots and close up, so I will start off, usually with full body or maybe it from the waist up. And then I will move on to doing more close up shots, and I highly recommend that you try this as well, because you never know which shots you will prefer. So it's best to try them both once you have your camera set up except where you want it to be. That's where you're going to have to set up your wireless remote or set up the self timer on your camera. I recommend if you are using the self timer on your camera, use at least 10 seconds just so you can get back to your place and get posed and set up before the shutter flashes and make sure that you take a few test shots because you're gonna want to make sure that your exposure focus and other settings are all correct. Before you go. The whole photo shoot. You don't want to end up taking all these photos, only to realize they're slightly out of focus. Overexposed or just something is wrong with them. Now that we're starting to shoot, I'm gonna share my posing tips in the next video because I know that's where plenty of people get nervous and don't quite know where to start. So let's go over some posing. 5. Posing: How to Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera: all right, So posing is probably the most challenging part of this, and I know it seems terrifying because as photographers were so used to being behind the camera and suddenly this object that we're so used to holding is pointing at us and we have no idea how to pose. You're bound to be a little tense when you first started, and you feel awkward and don't quite know how to move or what angles to use or what to do with your hands or your arms. But that is why I have plenty of tips to help you become more comfortable in front of the camera and get the photos that you're looking for. So first off, you can play with angles. Angles are very important because they can really change the look of your photo. So, for example, if you have your camera shooting up from a low angle, it will make you look very strong and powerful like I did with this photo. This photo I put my camera down the bottom of the staircase, sat on the staircase and had it pointing up towards me, and it gives us really, really cool feeling of power. and making me feel really awesome in this photo, and it gives a different kind of meeting than it would if I just shot it straight on. You can also just start experimenting with different angles of your face, so tilting your chin in different ways, I like to experiment with having the light hit my face in a different way. By tilting your chin up, we're down or moving your face so it's more towards the light or away from the light. Just little simple things like this can actually dramatically change how your photo looks and feels. This is a really fun part about self portrait photography, because you can really convey different emotions by playing around with different facial expressions and just have fun. Okay, so hands and hearts, you're probably wondering, What do I do with them? It's okay, you're not alone. I had no idea what to do at first, either. Suddenly, these things feel so unnatural and awkward, and you have no idea we're done with them or what to do with them. Usually what I recommend, starting off with just placing one hand around your face, whether it's under your chin resting on your hand something like that you never really want to use to because it looks awkward and unnatural. But just get in a comfortable post like how you kind of what if you were lounging around because you want your photos look as natural as possible and not stage uncomfortable? I definitely recommend starting off with self portrait sitting down, because that's one less thing to worry about. It's typically a little bit easier to pose when you are sitting instead of having to worry about what to do. Standing up what I typically recommend is choosing one position. So let's say you're sitting and then do a bunch of little tiny movements to release which of the post. Maybe it's leaning forward, more leaning back, putting your hands down on your knees, putting them on the floor, putting them to your side. You know, it's like there's so many little tiny movements you could do an experiment with and just take a bunch of photos until you find one that really speaks to you. And you're like, Yes, this is the one. The more you do that, the more naturally comfortable you will be with moving, and then you'll start to realize, Oh, I try this, I can try that. And that's what you need to be doing. Just really challenge yourself to try whatever it is that comes to your mind. Sometimes the best photos that I have gone have been initially those ideas where I think, oh, that would look really stupid on camera. But once you try it, sometimes they actually turn out to be your greatest shots. And finally, if you're still really stoned, you can find a lot of really great inspiration on interest. That's normally where I look to find different inspiration for my photo shoots. You can also find a ton of modeling photos or simple studio portrait shoots that will give you great opposing ideas. You can even make a mood board or a board on Pinterest and print out these photos, practice posing. Just get inspiration from anywhere you could find it, and Pinterest is a great place to start. Just remember that this first photo shoot, especially if you're a beginner, is all about just getting comfortable in front of the camera. You might not get your greatest photo the first time around, but I promised the more comfortable you get, the more excited will be to try and opposes, and then you'll start getting really fantastic photos. So never rule anything out. Try everything that comes to your mind. And if you want to start off with more basic poses, definitely do that. And then you can kind of branch into trying different, bigger, more extravagant poses. And you can try anything and everything, because, remember, no one is watching you. You are there by yourself, taking your own photos So you have no one to judge you or worry about making fun of you for doing a weird coast. Just a fun. And I promise you, at least one photo will look really once you get your photos head on over the next video and I will go over how I edit my final photos. 6. Editing Your Final Photos: all right, So now that you've taken all of your photos, you've gotten to the most fun part, in my opinion. And that is, I think I like to pull up all the photos on my desktop and don't delete them just by looking at them on the camera. It's better to see them on a bigger screen so you can see the little details and make sure they're focused all that kind of stuff before you just start leading them. You never know if when you see it on a bigger screen, you'll actually end up liking the photo more than when you first remember. Editing can seriously bring a photo life, so don't be worried if your original photos don't look as great as you wanted them to entertain. Just literally magic. You could do it so much in order to show you how I had my photos. Let's jump on my laptop and I will show you what I'm doing on my screen and my kind of workflow for how it ended my self portrait. Its first off typically open up my photo and start adjusting the exposure curves, depending on the look that I'm going for all adjust the exposure, highlights and shadows to my liking before I tweak anything else. I also like to experiment with color and life was really fun because you can change the color saturation and the loo minutes of all the different colors in your photo. So I honestly just love to play around and see what I like best. Your taste will definitely change over time, so don't feel like you have to commit to a certain style right away. For me. I typically like giving my photos cinematic color as if they were still is from an old movie. I play around with sliders and see how a different hue or loom in its effects. The field, the photo and it's really all about personal preference here. So once you've adjusted the colors, you can add yet may be a little rain changed the sharpness or texture, and again it all depends on your taste. So after that, I like to go in and add the extra little details so I'll usually brighten up my face to get my photo. XtraJet and I highly recommend that you do this. I recommend that you add a little brightness to your face because that is obviously the point that you want to emphasize in your photos, dodging and burning, meaning lightening and darkening. Certain spots of your photos can also give them that extra pop. So, for example, in my photos, I usually like to lighten the highlight on my cheekbones and enhance my irises. I like to make sure to take time for these smaller edits, as they really do, given extra pop to your final photo, and it's all in the detail. Editing is definitely one of the most fun part of this whole entire process, because you can change a photo and really make it anything you want it to be. Plus, you could even bring it into Photoshopped later on and change background, put yourself in a new location and get super creative. But for now, we're just focusing on the basis again. You don't have to decide on a specific entity style right way. I've done plenty of chutes where in post and editing, they actually look so much different than when I initially intended them to different colors. Different mining, high contrast, low contrast, maybe even black and white. There just have fun with your photos and give them a different look tone and feel and see what works best for you. Also remember that you shouldn't rely completely on editing. If you're photo is way too overexposed or under exposed, it can't save everything while I can't help, it definitely can't completely save a photo that is taken incorrectly, and it for sure, can't save a photo that is out of focus. Don't use it as a crutch. Use it as an enhancing tool. 7. Recap & Final Takeaways: So now that we've gone over the equipment that you'll need, how to find the perfect location, how to pose and how to edit your final photos, you're almost ready to start shooting for yourself. But let's recap, key points and some extra tips that I have for you. Most importantly, through all this. Just remember, don't be scared and just get creative. Have fun with it because that is how you will get your best photos. I cannot stress this enough. If you don't try different poses, your photos will lack energy. They'll start to look the same, and you won't give a unique perspective on your specific style. Remember, no one is watching you, so just get creative and have no matter what idea pops in your mind. Even if you think it's done, just try it and have fun. Next tip is yes, you are bound to get frustrated and overwhelmed. But don't worry and don't give up. Just remember to reset, rearrange and restart. Sometimes I'll be taking photos and a spot, and none of them are working. Then I just have to brush it off. I have to change. Maybe the camera placement or the angle or maybe changed to an entirely new location. But don't give up. There have been plenty of times where I had given up and not going to my last location that I wouldn't have gone some of the photos that I am most proud of today. Next trip is used props. If you're too uncomfortable to just have yourself in front of the camera, you can always use different types of crops. This could be a certain type of fabric that you could put over yourself, or the camera least usually looks really cool. That's a good tip for those of you who try so portrait photography and think it's just not for you but still want to be involved in portrait photography. Just remember that this exercise will actually help you tremendously with portrait photography. You'll be able to direct your models a lot better and better communicate what you want from them. Because once you realize how it feels to pose in front of the camera, you definitely will be able to communicate a lot easier types opposing and how your model should actually learned so much more about my camera. Different settings I should use and honestly, how to take much more stunning portrait photos by doing the self portrait photography exercise. I also feel like now I can come up with a lot more creative ideas. Even when I'm just walking around or I see a certain spot, I think, Well, that would be a really great portrait photography spot, and I feel like you could really develop your artistic eye by doing self portrait. It's and one thing is, you definitely shouldn't think of Self Portrait as being vain. I know the whole selfie concept is kind of strange, but that's definitely not what this is. It's a learning experience that has actually made me so much more confident in myself and my abilities as a photographer. Photography has always been the way that I've expressed myself artistically, and I'm really happy that I can portray my dreams, ideas and inspirations through my photos. So I'm so, so excited to see your photos for this project. Make sure to take a look around your house, use a new, fresh perspective financial spot. Look for a big window with nice natural light coming in set up. Don't get frustrated if it doesn't work out first and get creative have so much fun, and I'm so, so excited to see all of your photos. The greatest part is that you don't have to rely on anybody else. When you're ready to take photos, you just grab your camera and go. Don't forget to share your projects in the tab below and definitely give the other students feedback, especially if you really enjoy their photos. Everyone wants to hear really nice comments and feedback on their self portrait. It's we're all here to learn. So you have some advice, definitely offer that as well. And finally be sure to follow me because I will be making plenty of other classes on portrait photography and other ideas for your self portrait. So give me a follow. So you're notified every time I post a new class I hope you enjoyed and let me know how it went. If you have any other questions, I would be happy to answer them. So leave comments below. All right, good luck taking your photos. I think you are more than ready to start. I cannot wait to see them by