THE SELFISH ART OF SELF-PORTRAIT

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SELFIES

I have a few words I’d like to say about this. The first — and most important — is it ain’t as easy as it looks. Unless you have very long arms … and are young enough so that shooting very close to your skin doesn’t make you look like the Wicked Witch of the West … you’re going to need a mirror.

Marilyn Herself 9

Good mirrors with decent lighting are always in the bathroom. Never, in my experience, will you find a good mirror in a well-lighted room that has a nice backdrop.

If you are shooting into a mirror, forget flash. And if you are Of A Certain Age, be kind. The point of the exercise is not to reveal to the world every wrinkle, liver spot and scar on your skin. The idea is to produce a portrait of someone you know very well. Yourself. Perhaps to capture a certain mood, a particular look.

It’s okay to try and capture the person you know is inside you … not just the bag of flesh in which your soul resides.

Every great artist, from DaVinci, through Van Gogh, to every modern artist, has done self-portraits.It’s not merely that this is one model who will always be available without notice. It’s the particular challenge of making a picture which exposes more than a lens or an eye can see.

Include what your brain knows and your heart feels.

Technical Information:

  • Olympus PEN E-PM2
  • Aperture F1.7
  • Shutter speed: 1/60 second
  • ISO 320
  • No flash
  • Lens: Panasonic F1.7 20mm Prime Lens
  • Focal Length: 20mm (35mm equivalent: 40mm)
  • Spot metering
  • Post processed with Photoshop CS6 and NIK filters.

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Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

48 thoughts on “THE SELFISH ART OF SELF-PORTRAIT”

    1. Thank you. I’ve been practicing. It IS harder than it looks, especially the lighting and figuring out which lens you can use that’s fast enough, but won’t make you look like a blimp 🙂

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  1. I think your photo turned out really good! I’ve tried a couple of selfies. The worst one can be seen on my blog. I decided I needed a photo of myself brushing my teeth. As you might imagine, the result was both ugly and unrealistic.
    You did a great job explaining the problems of one encounters when taking a selfy and the intention behind self-portraiture.

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    1. Thank you. I do some touching up too — using native tools from Photoshop. We touch up pictures of our dogs and landscapes. We use special effect taking pictures of Christmas lights, cars and sunrises … so why should complete honesty be required for a self-portrait? I use a “glamor glow” effect to soften everything, a bit fixing on deep shadows on my neck (I am not young and I only wish I could do it “for real” as easily and painlessly!) … and I don’t over sharpen. Plus the usual lightening, contrast adjusting and cropping that are so automatic I don’t think about them at all. But I have to admit it took me a LOT of tries to come up with a formula that works. It’s a good formula for portraits of any older person. No one needs to look ugly in a portrait. And cameras can be very cruel … ironically a lot more cruel than human eyes will be 🙂

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  2. Excellent selfie – I try to avoid ending up in my own photos .. not at all comfortable in front of a camera. Thanks for the plingback and I wish you a pleasant weekend.

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  3. Lovely photo. Thoughtful and ageless. Looking directly forward but also into the space ahead (the future maybe or to the viewer?). Self portraits fascinate. I think it’s something that takes a lot of confidence. Brilliant execution.

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    1. I don’t know about confidence… more like applying to my self the same principles I use when I shoot someone else. It’s hard to look at oneself dispassionately for angles and lighting, etc.

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  4. Love it! You look great, Marilyn.
    And your tip about the mirror is a good one. I put up one that I should take down after reading about the witch. YIKES>

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    1. I stopped trying to just take a picture and graduated to trying to take a GOOD picture … so a whole different game plan ensued. I started taking it as a challenge. I’m not easy to photograph … really not. Too close, at the wrong angle and I look fat, old, and even just a bit sinister.

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  5. #Love It Great idea! It’s been a little while since I’ve taken a selfie. I usually take them with my webcam. (Easier than the arm reach. Lol)

    Great post.

    ML
    X

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            1. You don’t have to take yourself seriously as a personality or as “important” … but it’s perfectly legit to take yourself seriously as a photographic subject and approach yourself with the same vision you would give to any other person you were shooting. I think we sell ourselves short … especially women.

              Sometimes, when Garry and I are sitting watching TV in the evening, complaining about our aches and pains, one of us looks at the other and says “But we look GOOD.” We can’t make the aches go away … but we can keep that exterior looking spiffy!!

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              1. Perhaps. I have many beautiful pictures of myself that I love, though I also really enjoy the play involved with having a bit of fun.

                Although I would honestly like say that appearances don’t hold any value in the grand scheme of things, they do on some level and it’s nice to reflect on lovely pictures of ourselves at times. I’ve got a collection of both… Lol #HealthySelfAdmiration.. *snorks*

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    1. Thanks. Honestly I took the pictures partly because I know in a few weeks, I will look like hell and feel worse. At least I have photographic evidence that I didn’t look so bad before the surgery!

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  6. Marilyn! This is a great picture of you! But, why aren’t you smiling? 😀 I can only imagine what kind of fancy photowork I would have to do before I would be able to post a “selfie.” Just don’t have that kind of positive body image within me!

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  7. You are beautiful in heart and in spirit…in calling you my friend, I am blessed! God has you covered…8 years today I learned I had cancer in one breast…well all i can say is, “cancer, you met your match”…now get the heck of my body! Marilyn, you will be ok and you will get through this…hang on gf!

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    1. You are very kind. Brought tears to my eyes. I’m feeling pretty optimistic that it will work out. I’m not exactly looking forward to it … but I’m ready to deal with it . I needed time me to work my head around to the right place.I will get through .. With friends like you, how could I not?

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