Nov 19, 2015

How to Take Self Portraits (not selfies!)

Photo Tips Series - How to take self-portraits (not selfies!). Perfect for DIY holiday photos!
As a professional photographer, one of the biggest hurdles I face is being able to be in photos with my whole family. This problem runs so common in families where one person takes most of the photos. Today I’m hoping to offer some of my best tips for how to take self portraits so that you can be in photos with your family too!

With the holidays approaching, most people start to plan their holiday photos around early November, sometimes October. For my line of work, that is my busiest time of year, and photographers are notorious for putting off getting their own photos done. I’d imagine it like a handyman’s house is never complete, or an interior designer who constantly changes up their space.


You don’t need a lot of equipment to take your own photos, and you can even get by without anything special, but the following can be super helpful:

Camera – One capable of using a self-timer or remote. If you need help, you can read my gear post here.
Tripod – A sturdy tripod to hold your camera (mine is similar to this), or flat and level table or safe place to set your camera.
Remote – A remote or self timer on your camera. A remote is preferred because it allows you to fine tune the focusing for the photo. I use this one by Canon.

My Favorite Gear:


You will want to find a location that has indirect and natural light, or a space that is indirectly bright. This means that it is filled with bright light, but not direct sun or overhead lights. Good places indoors are near large windows when the sun isn’t shining directly into them, or a garage door or side of house that is not in direct sunlight. If you need to, you can wait until about an hour before sunset (golden hour) to take the photos. For basic lighting and other tips, read this post.

The most important detail about your location is that it has constant lighting. It is hard to worry about changing lighting conditions and posing yourself and anyone else in the photos.


Once you have your gear and location done, you’ll want to set up your camera. The most common position to set your camera up in is at eye level, but you can adjust it any way you’d like. If you are taking the photo with a group, have them stand in place before you join them in the photo. Be sure to keep in mind the amount of space you’ll take up and make adjustments accordingly.

If you’re in a group, it helps to set your focus on someone’s face who is already in the photo. If you are taking photos by yourself and in front of something, you can place a small piece of painters tape or washi tape on the wall to focus your camera on before you jump in the photo. Or if all else fails, you can set your camera on auto focus and hope that it chooses the right spot when you push the remote button.

If you are using the self-timer option, you will need to set your focus ahead of time. This may be hard if you are alone in the photo because the camera will usually focus when you push the button, not when it takes the actual photo.

Snap Away

Taking self-portraits is a talent unto itself, so please don’t be surprised or discouraged if it takes more than a few tries to get the photo that you want. Play around with angles and timing and adjust as you go.

Have you taken self-portraits before? Do you have any tips to share?

Expand Comments

[…] this week I’m sharing how to DIY holiday card photos. The process is similar to my post about how to take self portraits, with some other tips that apply specifically to holiday card […]

This is a great idea. I guess I always think about selfies with a phone, not ever taking self portraits with a camera.

Add a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.