1. Spend the time figuring out how to take a good photo of yourself...
Figure out that go-to smile, angle, pose, etc. that will result in a flattering photo of you pretty much every time. This is the pose that you use for photos your friends take of you while you're out and about, or the ones that you post on Facebook where people will say "Oh you're so pretty!" If you are shooting digitally, you can easily take hundreds of photos to learn what this look is... and you should take that many, without remorse! Everyone has one... but do not think that those awkward 499 photos out of 500 where you look totally weird make you weird-looking or ugly! (More on that later.) Get that part out of the way...
2. ... and then get bored with it.
Once you've got that forced, unnatural, robotically-practiced pose down, get bored of it. Yes, you'll receive the same compliments if you keep posting that variation on the same photo... but you are way more than just that one angle, that one expression. Get to the point where the compliments and the ego boost aren't a priority anymore. Get to the point where you're comfortable behind the camera, and you want to explore what else you can do aside from look pretty. Shoot for honesty, shoot to come up with something different. Take "pretty," "sexy," "photogenic," "flattering" off the priority list. Which leads me to the next lesson...
3. By readjusting those priorities, you're not admitting you're unattractive (PS you aren't).
Just because we may have an asymmetrical face, or maybe some crooked teeth or less-than-perfect skin, or any other slew of self-beat-downs we can come up with, it doesn't make us ugly. It doesn't make us "unphotogenic." It makes us human, unique, and honest. We all know someone who seems to never take a bad photo, and if they are going through something traumatic (like we all do at one point or another), they couldn't fathom taking a picture of themselves under those unflattering conditions. Capture all facets of your humanity and existence. Photography is about freezing an instant. Saving an absolute irreplaceable moment in time, no matter what the conditions, locations, emotions. We take pictures to remember these moments. It is beneficial to us as people to remember the bad along with the good. The latter is so easy. Challenge yourself, and you'll learn so much.
4. Get weird if you want to. Take risks. Shun embarrassment or criticism.
This is the hardest one, at least as far as I'm concerned. We ran outside, into a crowded alley and in busy crosswalks, and took photos of ourselves while people were obviously watching. We were all prepared to handle any "What are you doing?" questions with "Taking pictures of myself, what do you like to do?" It's not about or for anyone but us. "Why are you taking pictures of yourself?" "Why not?" It's not vanity that drives self-portraiture, it's honesty, and a desire to record. Do you keep a journal? Do you document your time on Earth in one way or another? Self-portraiture is no different. If you want to sprawl out on your kitchen floor and take a photo of yourself there while holding a slice of cheese, do it. It's not for anyone but you. No one has any right to tell you that you're doing something wrong, or you're weird, or self-obsessed. That being said:
5. You don't have to share your photos.
In the age of Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram, it's natural to instinctively want to take flawless photos and put them up on the internet. And it's okay to want people in your life (and/or strangers!) to comment on your photographic efforts. However, if you are looking through your photos and there's one that really stands out to you, that really elicits an emotional response, but you don't know if anyone else will appreciate it, if they'll think it's weird, awkward, whatever, don't share it... but absolutely keep it. Again, do you keep a diary? Do you post every one of your innermost thoughts to Facebook? Nah. So feel free to keep it to yourself, keep it for you.
I am so excited to start my self-portraiture journey! I need to give that voice in my head that says "You look ridiculous" a swift kick to the butt and get to what really matters.
What are your thoughts on self-portraiture?
What, if anything, is holding you back?