The Self Portrait Experiment

Armed with all the new information I’m learning through Shoot Fly Shoot’s Photography Course, I was delighted to discover this article through Pinterest.


I’ve been thinking lately that it’s perhaps time to update my 2-year old portrait picture.

“Hmmm…,” I thought, “perhaps I could be my own portrait guinea pig!”

Karen’s tips for taking a self-portrait made it sound  do-able.  I was not naive enough to think it would be easy. A few previous attempts with hilarious results made me realize quickly that ~ although they look so easy and breezy ~ pictures of women with a camera slung oh, so cutely by their shoulder isn’t achieved neither quickly nor easily.

I read through her steps very carefully and tried my best to follow them to a tee.

1.  Take some care with your appearance.”  Hallelujah, I was having a good hair day.  I really wished I could somehow magically, immediately lose 15 pounds…but that’s a difficult subject.  Let’s not talk about it.  I did as she suggested, though, and put on clothes that I liked…mainly because I wanted to wear my boots.  I really love my new boots.

boots and snowdrops

“2.  Find a large mirror” This was easy.  I only have one large mirror in the house.  She mentioned that it was imperative that it be cleaned well.  Oh heavens!  I had no idea how dirty the mirror actually was.  If this experiment completely bombed,  at least I knew I’d have a clean mirror when it was all over…

mirror only

“3.  Grab your camera, and make sure you use a normal lens.”  Hmm…a “normal lens”.  I guess that would be this one:


aka “the only lens I own”. {Although I’m drooling over a 50mm one like she mentions.}

4.  Find some good light.”  I decided to head on outside to find some good light.  Although it was a typical gray winter day, there was the teensiest bit of sun filtering through the clouds.  However, it was already 4 pm, so I knew it would be headed over the horizon soon…

“5.  Sit yourself in front of your mirror (about three or four feet away) and check your background.” Do you know how weird it feels to perch yourself outside your front door, sit on the sidewalk and take pictures of yourself in front of a mirror?

focus shot

You don’t??  Well, trust me.  It feels really weird.

7.   Be sure that your lens is in the same plane as your face.  One of the challenges of doing a self-portrait this way is ensuring that your face is in focus.”  That, my friends, is an understatement indeed.  I followed her advice and used autofocus.  She said it would be my friend.  It was.  It just was a little confused as to what to focus on…

focused frame

…nice frame…


…nice playground…

“8.  SMILE.” Sounds easy enough, right?  But again…it feels so weird…smiling away at yourself in a mirror…

me in the mirror

“9.  Click away like a madman.”  Karen goes on to explain that you are going to need to take a LOT of pictures before you find one you really like.  She says that she took 550.  I thought that was an exaggeration for effect.  Now I realize she probably meant it literally!  Do you know how hard it is to try to figure out where to aim the lens when you’re taking a picture of yourself??  {Is there a secret that I don’t know about??}

Never mind the detail of trying to get the camera to focus on my face…I found it miraculous if my face was even in the picture!!


…oh, no!  Don’t cut off that side of my head!  That’s the “good side” of my hair…Smile

off the top

…who needs a forehead anyway??

in corner

Oopsy.  It looks like I’m a wee bit tipsy…

By the time I ended my “experiment” the sun was almost completely set, raindrops were falling, and I had snapped over 150 pictures.

self portrait

This is the only one I remotely like…

She said to “process as usual”.  Honestly, I don’t have a “usual” way to process photos.  {Now I need to take a Photoshop course!!}  But, I do enjoy  Pioneer Woman’s Fresh and Colorful Action.  I ran that and played around with the light and saturation.  Then cropped it and added an edge burn (also a Pioneer Woman action).

self portrait ps

It’ll have to do for now…

{Thank you, Karen, for all your helpful tips!  I could have NEVER done this without you walking me through it step by step!}

Linking to:  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Home Stories A-Z

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