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Selfie Portraits beyond arm length


Preface Equipment Lights Composition Location Pose



he “selfie” is not a new photographic language, but is the most popular genre of our times. The quick growth of social networks and their impact in everyone’s culture has given opportunities for all those creative humans around us to share fresh and new material, but let’s face it: not everyone is Cindy Sherman. Therefore, if you are looking for a short guide that won’t deal with apertures, speeds or really any technical aspect, and you really want to forget about the pictures in front of the mirror; this guide is for you. However, if you have ever used the DOF preview button in your camera (on purpose), read on anyway. You might find it amusing.



lmost any camera will do, even a pinhole one if you’re patient enough. On this guide you’ll find pictures made with the most traditional types: compact, super-zoom and entry-level DSLR. Just try to get something with a self-timer. You could also get a tripod, but any flat and steady surface could work. That’s what those old and huge books are there for, pile them up! You’ll notice the lack of phone-cameras, but the way of use is the same of that of the compact ones.


While making a picture of your reflection on a mirror. Try to show your face. Your camera should not be the main subject of the photo.


Forget about the camera and make faces in front of your mirror.



se the sun, and some good strong light from a lamp for low-key shots. There isn’t any need to buy strobes. Furthermore, you’re going to be usually close to the lenses (and the attached light) so, any use of “flash” would have a negative effect.


The use of an automatic flash from a short distance will erase many facial features, giving a flat aspect to the image. Not to mention the shadows that will be casted on every nearby object.


Use the available light to make your picture. You could use one of your camera's programs or set it in fully automatic. Frame the picture and use the self-timer to shoot it. It is important to know that if you haven't manual control over the focus it might be very tricky to get it right. Use some object to take your place as you frame the picture and remove it just in the moment when you enter the frame.



t is hard to get a classical “rule of thirds” composition when you’re watching the wrong end of the camera, so let’s keep it simple: Fill the frame.


Everything is wrong in this picture and the hair is so bad that the fact that there are so many other elements around to distract the attention might be even considered a good thing.




hile at the party or in your room, there are three aspects to consider while choosing the best place to take your selfie: 1. It must not obscure you. You’re the subject of the photo and you must protrude from it as if it were a relief on stone. 2. Get enough light, most autofocus systems need good illumination to work properly. 3.

Avoid the toilet. Anywhere else is better.


Yes, seriously, I'm there, somewhere. Can't you see it's me?


I'm in a cafĂŠ and the picture is still about me. Simple.



hink about two things: Props and expression.

Props are all those things in the picture that aren’t you. You can count in this category your clothes, your pet, your house, car, plants, family, friends... for your selfie, they are just props. Try to keep them coherent or at least interesting (e.g., you shouldn’t wear sunglasses at night, unless you are Corey Hart). Usually you will only get a picture of your head, so it should be easy to pull faces in front of the camera. It is always better a photo that implies that something is happening and the photo got shot in just the precise instant. If you stay neutral, you could as well use your passport picture. If you are going for a full bodied image, try to keep your limbs relaxed and shift the weight of your body from left to right, front and back until you find a pose you like. It’s all about trying.


Sunglasses while working on a laptop? At least is during daytime. If the idea of the picture is ridiculous, most certainly it also looks that way.


No sunglasses, no car, no pet, no face. Keep it simple and your image will be a success.

If everything fails

Hire a professional to do the job.


Š2005-2013 Sellek Daniel. All rights reserved.


Portraits beyond arm length

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