PHOTO: How Am I Going To Take My Self Portrait?

How can I be behind the camera, and in front of it?

No, this isn’t a metaphysical mind bender. If you’ve got a few extra nuts and bolts around the house to slap together a parallel universe or cloning machine, go for it. If not, I’ve got a few easier suggestions.

When Meegan and I discussed the self portrait challenge, we figured we might receive a few entries of the solo hail Mary variety. In other words, you’d stick your arm way out in front of you and snap away. That’s certainly one way to go about it, but in my experience it tends to lead to marginal results and weird poses because of the tendency to lean your head away from the camera.

Click past the jump for a pictorial demonstration of a few ways to get yourself in the shot.

First, let’s get acquainted with the deeper workings of our cameras. With an SLR, you should see a button somewhere that either says “Drive” or has the little watch face icon. Each camera and manufacturer has a different way of selecting the timer option, so my suggestion is to read your manual. If you don’t have one, Google it. Point and shoots like to hide this option deep in the murky bowels of the menu system. If your P&S doesn’t have a dedicated button for the timer mode, I wish you Godspeed in navigating in, and back out, of those beguiling menus.

Many cameras give you the option of setting the timer at two seconds, or ten. This will give you time to compose your shot, hit the shutter, and get back into position before the shutter goes off.

Once you’ve gotten timer mode figured out, you might wonder where you should put your camera. A tripod is a good place to start, naturally. In most cases you can mount your camera on a tripod and be reasonably sure it’s not going to run off with your gear.

If you don’t have a tripod, but you do have a flat surface somewhere, your wallet can do wonders. You don’t even have to take any cash out.

It doesn’t have to be a wallet, but it’s something most of us have around. Often when you prop a camera up on a table, it’s aimed too low to get your face in the shot. This gives you a few extra degrees to get that lens pointed in the right direction. Be creative and use whatever you can find, though. A jacket, wallet, cell phone, sleeping kitten, rock, driftwood, cell phone bill, you name it.

Hopefully this will help you get a little more creative with your self portraits. If you’re a solo hail Mary shooter, go for it. If you’re a tripod shooter, more power to ya. If you use the sleeping kitten, I can haz ur kitteh? If you built a cloning machine, you’re probably busying playing your clone in a never ending ping pong tournament, hence not reading this blog. I wish you luck. Both of you. Make sure one of you takes a photo.

– Derek Sheppard