The Best Mini Guide Ever! How To Take Amazing Photos and Self Portraits For YOUR Walls
Some people are keen to consider our time and existence the age of narcissism. With the insane popularity of social media and gazillions of selfies flooding your feed, it’s easy to understand why.
There’s another side to it. Sure, there’s narcissism, but there’s also a lot of Public Pretending* going on.
* Thanks, Dr Buckles for that phrase.
Despite any negativity or lack of response to a social media post, only you can understand the real significance and the story behind a particular photo you took.
Nobody neither could nor should stop you from putting it onto every spare piece of wall in your home.
Age old truth – exhibiting photos of yourself is a way of self-approval and expressing yourself.
Another sign of our selfie and travel photo-infested social media is the always-polished and “straight-from-the-Vogue-cover” vibe that those Pinterest boards and Instagram updates usually radiate.
In a way, it may make us feel a bit uncomfortable about ourselves. In fact, you could argue that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do.
You are completely entitled to ignore the traditional mockup form.
You don’t have to use photos that would get a million likes or comments on Facebook.
Choose the photo YOU love and tape it onto your wall. Get a huge canvas print or a regular sized canvas print, but whatever you do, make sure you adore it!
From here on out, consider it the greatest picture of you ever taken.
It will be honest and will not respond to any mainstream photo convention.
Unoriginal as it may be – sometimes, you have to swim against the current to find your true self.
Recognise it, be aware of it and finally – fall in love with it (and yourself). A rewarding sense of completeness – guaranteed.
Now, let’s dip into the creative self-portrait process.
Taking photos of yourself can open new horizons of creativity, both for the person behind and before the lens.
There are practically no limitations.
Go outside, go to the nearest forest or field. Blow some bubbles.
You can go full on Tableaux and make up a fairy tale image. A role-shifting adventure of sorts.
Or you can pull on your wellies and take some shots in the street.
As you can see, it’s not necessarily just about fancy portraiture.
A close-up shot of your wellies will give your walls a dose of everyday life.
Look up interesting environments and test your ability to assimilate with them.
Later on, you can embellish your pictures with pretty fonts and appropriate messages or quotes from your favourite tunes.
Excellent Resources for editing photos:
Soon enough, you won’t be able to find any reason to buy ready-made wall art prints since you’ll know how to do them better. And how exciting the process can be!
There’s a pretty good chance that your exercises in creative photography will result with a couple of exhibition-worthy shots.
You can easily create a gallery wall in your home!
Here are a few other tricks to put up your sleeve:
Try out some intentional lo-fi shots of yourself to get an aura of mystique and an appearance of some foggy, nebulous forest being.
It’s here where a presumably “bad”/AWESOME gadgetry is especially important.
You’ll enjoy playing with Polaroid cameras, Fujifilm Instant Mini’s or disposable cameras.
The HOLGA series and Lomography Diana models are also marvellous 35mm choices, and the prices these days are as low as they can get!
If you’re keen to obtain some out-of-the-box results, you can indulge in experiments with intentionally “bad” photography.
I used to do experiments like these when I was in University. I loved working in the darkroom and being involved with the printing process.
Fun fact: Photography experiments were how I stumbled upon the amazing mixed media and craft world.
The Book that opened the door for me: Altered Imagery: Mixed media art techniques
Examples of “Bad” Photography experiments:
You can completely ignore the matching of aperture settings with the respective shooting environments (day, night, cloudy day, sunny day), allow some tasteful over-exposition or “reasonably” damage the film (this one is aimed specifically at the disposable camera).
Most of it may sound awful, but the process could surprise you.
Burn its edges or poke it with a pin, scratching with a blade or even use a nail file. Everything will do!
And, of course, don’t forget about DIY photo filters!
I love this little set of photo filters for the Instax:
Packing tapes of different colours, soda bottles, prisms and a layer of watercolours over the lens will give you an artsy photography to crave!
To recreate the coloured film filters, buy a packet of transparency and use coloured alcohol based markers.
There is no specific rule saying that a photo of you should show your face.
Sometimes the mood and the message is conveyed better with borderline anonymous photography.
Although we read faces, body language can express subtle cues and make the focus of the viewer, divert from the body to the surrounding details. This technique can increase the intrigue and leave some options for interpretation.
A series of these faceless “portraits” would also work out great as a mini-story board, an excellent fit for a multi-canvas wall display!
Another way to create wall art-worthy photos of yourself is to go full-blown monochrome.
Black & white photography will essentially strip the photo of any additional aspects, going down to the main subject of the shot – you.
Once again, it’s a photo technique that can unintentionally unveil what a photographer originally sought to hide. Only this time it’s rather like an X-RAY of emotions.
I loved the fact that I learned photography on an old 35mm film camera, using black and white film and printing via the dark room. I fell in love with the entire process. It does means that are a fewer post-production manipulations you can do. B&W photography requires a bit more shooting expertise, but it’s not necessary with all the fancy photo fixing apps that you can download.
You can try out a polarizer filter and different adjustments for high dynamic range (HDR) settings that are usually built into cameras.
Do not overcook, though, for heavy reliance on these effects will provide a very synthetic look! However, if that’s what you’re aiming for, go for it. Photo accidents can often be beneficial.
Things to keep in mind when shooting your photos in monochrome technique:
- Negative space (empty, dark areas of the shot that’ll shift viewer’s attention to you)
- Interesting textural patterns (crumbled walls, fluttering grass or a piece of clothing)
- Contre-jour (aiming camera directly at the light source with the photo subject being the only thing blocking the rays)
What to Make of It All
I hope this mini guide sparked your creativity. More importantly, it’s really about why it’s amazing to have photos of you as your wall art without seeming like you’re a self-involved prat.
It’s not about boosting the ego, but about actually finding one, it’s the beginning of your journey of self-acceptance. (Can you tell I’m on a bit of a journey of my own right now?!) It’s about self-care and accepting you.
It’s about occasionally looking up from the downs of the routine only to realise – I’m actually really pretty. And it turns out, I know how to take some great photographs!
It’s about some good DIY art and the quality time spent on its creation. Jokes on skeptics – this thing works!
Also, some of the moodier and toned down photos will be a perfect wall art choice for fall 2016!
Authors: Gvido Grūbe
And Claire Donovan
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