How to take better Self Portraits

One of the challenges I, and many other solo travellers and hikers, face.

“How do I take a good photo of myself without someone to do it for me?”

For a long time, I used to stick to landscape photography for that very reason. Trying to frame, get myself in the shot, pull focus, run away from the camera, time it right, etc.

All of these things seemed like a hassle to me, and I was always quite happy with photographs I had taken of landscapes, but they always felt like they were missing something.

They were.

It was a subject.

Plus, it’s always nice to look back on a trip and have photos of you in the actual landscapes, and not just of the landscapes you’ve visited.

Before I continue, I am NOT an expert of photography, in fact I would very much class myself as a beginner. However, that being said I’ve been accused multiple times of having, and I quote, “A professional following you around.”

Maybe some of the things I can share will help you take better photos of yourself when you’re on a big solo adventure.

What’s in my camera bag?

Here’s a summary of everything that is in my camera bag, and what I use on a daily basis when traveling the world and documenting the journey through photography.

I am still learning, practicing, and getting better every day. But the improvements I have made in less than a year are something I am actually proud of, and I am excited for the projects I’ve got lined up this year to further my skillsets and improve as a photographer.

Camera: Sony A7III
Lens 1:
Sony 24-70 F4
Lens 2:
Sony 70-200 F4
Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 3
Peak Designs Aluminium
Backpack: 55L LowePro Backpack (Camera specific backpack)
Capture Clip: Peak Designs Clip
Polarising Filters: K and F Polariser
Memory Cards: Sandisk Extreme 256gb
Anker 20,000amp

What do you actually need for a self portrait?

THE single most important bit of kit here is going to be your tripod.

Camera is, in my opinion, secondary to this as it’s not going to matter if you shoot on an iPhone or a DSLR.

What matters is you can set up the shot, pick your frame, and work out where you want to be inside of the picture before setting everything up to take the photo.

The basics of self portrait are:

– Set a tripod up and choose the frame or photo you want to take.

– Set a timer on said camera, run like a weirdo into the frame, let the photo take.

– Run back to the camera, check the shot, and adjust as many times as you need.

That’s basically it in a nutshell, but I’m going to share some tips that have helped me take the photos on this blog with just myself and my camera/tripod combination.

Must have’s for Self Portrait

You’re gonna need a camera.

You’re gonna need a tripod.

And you’re gonna need an intervalometer, or a timer to take said photo when you’ve ran into the frame.

Some shots will require a 5-10 second timer as you’re not going to be too far in the distance, but others, like the one below are going to need a few minutes for you to be able to get yourself in frame.

Having a DSLR or mirrorless camera, will be easier for a timer. Most modern cameras have them built in (My Sony A7III does) but if not, you can buy something like this to plug in and help:

Intervalometer for Camera

Any tripod will do, but make sure it is sturdy and it is level when you’re ready to take your shot.

If you’ve got a heavy camera, then you’re going to want to spend some good money on a tripod just to be certain that it’s of good quality and can withstand the weight of your camera and it’s lense.

Setting focus for your image

This is something I really struggled with when I first started trying to take images of myself within the landscapes I was visiting.

One tip I can give you that found helped me, was to rest something in the shot, like your backpack.

Not only will this give you more of a visual on what the subject is going to be like in the frame, but will also allow you to pull focus on that bag.

You then simply walk to where the back is, toss it out of shot, or sling it on your back, and let the shot speak for itself.

Anything in the frame will work, a small stick, leaf etc. You’re just going to need something to pull focus on so when you go into the frame you know exactly where to stand.

3 of my favourite accessories for self portraits

3 of my absolute favourite things to carry in my camera bag, which in turn make my photography much easier.

As you have probably noticed by now, I love Peak Designs. I am a big believer in when a brand makes a good product, the chances are the rest of their products are pretty good too.

1) The Peak Designs clip is an absolute game changer when it comes to carrying your camera. If you’ve got a backpack and like taking photos, having a PD Clip makes this so much easier. Without having to dig into your bag, or wait for the perfect moment for your shot. Having the Capture Clip with the camera on means you’re ready to go whenever you need to.

2) Polarising filters are incredible and I am glad I’ve got them on my lenses. Blocking harsh light and creating a warm glow is something I never dreamed possible. These filters allow that to happen and I couldn’t be without them now. Not only does it give the harsh sun, and glare from water and waterfalls a better look but it also protects your glass too.

3) Big and fast memory cards. I use the SanDisk Extreme as their storage is big and their read speeds are super quick. I’ve got 4 or 5 with me at all times, as backups and they’ve not let me down yet!

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