How To Take The Best Self Portrait

Over the weekend, a close friend of mine (and an exceptionally talented photographer) approached me about how I take self portraits because she was looking to take some of her own. I was flattered she had asked me but I was mostly surprised because I never really thought it was anything unique. In fact it was self portraits that sparked my interest in photography initially. Up until the age of 18 I had pretty much only taken photos of myself. A lot of my art projects at school were based around identity and the transition from girl to woman, which of course meant the obvious subject for my work was myself. It wasn’t until University that I had my first proper photoshoot with a model. I assumed it would just be a natural progression of my work and the next step for developing this hobby of mine. Unfortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I can see why photographing someone else could bring a level of ease because there are defined job roles and responsibilities, allowing you to solely focus on your technique. However in others ways I actually found it more difficult. My role as a photographer made me anxious and overwhelmed with a pressure to be professional. Regardless of how excited I was about a photoshoot, I couldn’t shake the nerves and it would detract away from the enjoyment of it. It only took me 3 years and countless projects to finally revert to my old ways and experiment with self portraits again.

Personally I find self portraits open a world of possibilities for my photography. I have the flexibility to photograph whatever and whenever I want. If I get a burst of inspiration at 10pm I have the option to grab my camera and go, as opposed to spending a whole week planning a photoshoot and then not even guarantee I’ll like the photos. I am also never constrained by the clock. There were times when I felt bad because I had promised the model the shoot would only take 2 hours and it was now running half an hour late. I would also feel restricted by what I could ask the model to do. I got caught up in having to play it safe out of fear I would waste everyone’s time. Even if a series of photos turn out embarrassingly disastrous, it only takes a click of a button and they can be deleted forever, never to be seen again. But if I had dragged a model to the studio and made her pose for 3 hours it wouldn’t have been that simple.


Emma Hughes - Streets


I wanted to share a few tips that I have learnt over the years from my experience with this area of photography. Although we can all point a camera at ourselves, it takes time to produce a thoughtful and interesting self portrait.


How To Take The Best Self Portrait

1. Most of the time I rely on a trial-and-error method. I will shoot until I am happy, and then probably shoot again because you can never be completely satisfied.

2. Be sure to regularly check how your photos are looking on the back of your camera. Make sure you are happy with the lighting, framing and focusing otherwise you might find you have a card full of unusable shots.

3. Focusing is a pain in the ass. There is quite a simple solution to this problem but it’s difficult to get it 100% accurate. I like to bring something to stand in my place whilst I’m framing my shots. Place an object (a tall lamp or a spare tripod work the best) into your position, focus on it and then stand in it’s place.

4. Obviously you don’t want to have to run into the frame just as your camera takes the image so to give yourself plenty of time use the the timer setting on your camera for as long as possible. Check your user guide for how to set it up but most cameras should have the option available.

5. Look into purchasing a trigger remote! This was a lifesaver throughout school but unfortunately mine broke recently and it has been a little more difficult ever since. Sometimes your camera will also give you the option to delay the shutter a couple of seconds so you have time to hide the remote in your pocket.

6. Check if your camera has a ‘burst’ feature which will allow you to take multiple photos in succession. This will give you the chance to experiment with a variation of poses and movements so you have variation. Even if you know exactly how you want your photo to look, it’s never a bad idea to have more options than none.


Self Portrait Emma


I hope you found this insightful and if you’re also familiar with self portraits I would love to hear some of your tips and tricks below. If not then now is the time to experiment!

You Might Also Like

  1. Violette

    October 25, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    These photos are beautiful!


      October 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      thank you!


      October 25, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks xx


    October 25, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Number 3 definitely solves my biggest headache. Such beautiful photos and love these great tips, thanks for sharing!
    xoxo Jasmine |


      October 25, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      Haha glad I could help!

  3. Lindsey of The Nomis Niche

    October 25, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Beautiful photos – and great tips!

    Love, Lindsey


      October 25, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  4. Emily

    October 25, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    These are really great shots and good tips! I used to be really in to self portraiture, but haven’t done it in ages. I kind of miss it! So thanks for this little bit of inspiration. 😉


  5. Jenelle

    October 25, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    These are beautiful. I have tried to do it a few times with mixed results. I think I usually give up and think I’ll just wait it out and get my partner to shoot for me. Though I do like this idea of having something with to use to focus with. Thanks!
    xx Jenelle


      October 26, 2016 at 9:00 am

      Glad I could help!

  6. Sharon Wu

    October 26, 2016 at 2:56 am

    Great tips for taking self portraits and I never would have thought you took those amazing pictures yourself! Thank you for sharing xo, sharon


      October 26, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Aw thank you so much!

  7. Claudine

    October 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Thank you very much for sharing your tips! usually I take pictures with my partner, but some I have to do self portaits and know the pain of focusing very well! I do it the same way like you, I think this works the best.
    I love your shots, they are really amazing!
    Claudine /


      October 26, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Thank you! Would love to see some of your self-portraits as well!

  8. Daniel

    October 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Love those photos! You look so amazing:)

    Daniel x

    The Daniel Originals | Instagram: danielpoonvignez

    New Post: Wireless Earphone

  9. Stayclassi

    October 26, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for sharing your tips, also I want to say that you’re so inspiring! I really love your pictures!
    Take care Emma!


      October 26, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Aw thank you so much! Thats so lovely xx

  10. Viviane Heleno

    October 26, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Great post, lovely! <3 xo


      October 26, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks xx

  11. Aurelie | Surface85

    October 26, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Great tips! Especially number 3. Focusing is hard and using a spare tripod is really clever. Your pictures are speaking for themselves.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Aurelie |


      October 26, 2016 at 4:47 pm

      Thanks so much! Glad you like them.

  12. Angie Wilson

    October 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the tips! It’s always a challenge for me 🙂


      October 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Its a challenge for everyone I’m sure!

  13. Jalisa

    October 26, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    These are all such great tips, beauty! I love the one about using a tripod to stand in place while attempting to focus, that’s such great idea and one I’ll have to try because you’re right, focusing can be such a pain! Thanks so much for sharing, beauty, and I hope you’re having the best week so far!


  14. Shannon

    October 27, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve always wondered too. Maybe I’m just too lazy to lug around trip-pod but it is quite a talent! & you’re awesome at it!


  15. Nicole

    October 27, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Wow these photos are gorgeous!! I def need to try some self portraits!


    Nicole |

  16. Elise

    October 27, 2016 at 9:40 am

    These photos are beautiful, thanks for sharing this post and your tips 🙂


      October 27, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      Thank you!

  17. Carina

    October 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Stunning pictures and thanks for sharing these awesome tips. I would love to try this out, but I would be afraid someone passing by could know out or run away with my camera.



      October 27, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      These are all worries that rush through my head as well, but you just have to tell yourself life is too short to be afraid! Go out and give it a try and I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself 🙂 xx

  18. Gabrielle

    October 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Brilliant list of tips, and all of which i’ll be keeping in mind as I learn/practice more with self-timer! Love these shots of you by the way, very artistic and beautiful.

  19. Tania

    October 28, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Love this post hun! I always rely on people to take my photos whereas I really should be doing it myself. Love your posts hun

  20. Lauren

    October 28, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    These photos are truly stunning. I love the composition and black and white coloring. Thanks for sharing your tips!


    Blame it on Barneys

  21. Tiffany

    October 29, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Your images are so incredible. Great post x
    Tiffany Tales | Lifestyle & Beauty

Comments are closed.