Photography 101: Day 1, Self-Portrait

I realized awhile ago that I married into a family that is very adept with the camera. I’m not a complete incompetent, but it would be nice to improve. Inspired by this list, I’m starting a mini-one-month photography study.  I’ll be sharing some results, good and bad, and I’ll be sharing articles that helped me on my way.

An overview of my little self-directed study in photography:

It’s a fairly simple list, and I hope to come out of the study with a better understanding of lighting, framing, and how to capture a subject. I also will probably use it as a reason to brush up my Photoshop skills.

Let me just start off that saying photography, at least self-portraiture, is not for those with low self-esteem.  I have decent self-esteem – not great, but not in the toilet.  This article I read suggests finding a prominent physical feature to showcase in the portrait. I found myself questioning a prominent physical feature – is my face and body just boring, and there’s nothing to feature? Every picture was just flat, unfocused, badly lit, or I wasn’t in the frame.  Space for thisproject is also limited, since we’re sharing a small apartment, and I’m a little shy about taking pictures of myself.  It feels vain to pose for the camera.  Not to mention the difficulty of taking a photo with the timer function (which also beeps loudly, annoying the Hubby and JM who are trying to work in the room), limited lighting indoors, and limited physical space to work with.I found myself reverting to thekind of derogatory self-talk I hadn’t know since I was a moody teenager. I became extremely frustrated, out of touch with what I even wanted the picture to look like, disgusted with myself physically, and ready burst into tears because of the resurfacing of demons I thought I had conquered. I very nearly gave up the whole project.

Then I figured, why not use that emotion.  I threw myself in the bedroom and closed the door.  I attempted to channel all the awful things I was feeling.  I played with a few shots to get the lighting at least okay. And I learned something about myself: I smile a little just before I cry. I also found a way to make something I usually hate about myself – the heavy dark circles under my eyes – look interesting.

I’m not going to pretend to be 100% happy with the picture.  I couldn’t get the lighting right, and as a result, there’s a blue tinge in a few spots of the photo that I couldn’t get out.  And I still have much to learn about editing blemishes.  The setting is also not quite right. Needless to say, I won’t be entering this into any photo contests anytime soon.  But I like how my eyes and my hair turned out, and considering the pictures I started out with, I think this is a decent improvement. It’s a starting point, and the point of this exercise is not to try and be perfect but to try and improve.  I imagine the reason the challenge starts and ends with the self-portrait is to show improvement.

We’ll see where we are a month from now. There’s nowhere to go but up, right?



2 Comments to “Photography 101: Day 1, Self-Portrait”

  1. I really like this challenge. Did you think of it yourself? Nice blog!

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