In every professional photographers’ career, they reach a point where they decide to focus their skills on a particular category within the industry. This could range from wedding photography, to baby photography, portraits, or one of many other prominent categories. What’s often overlooked is the benefit that experience within other categories can bring to your chosen field through the insights and techniques that can be gleaned. Perhaps eve n less recognised, self-portraits are one such area that can help a photographer hone their photography skills, particularly with respect to categories that deal with clients.
One of the greatest facets that photographers can draw from self-portraits is the difficulty that accompanies their creation. After all, one has to have the foresight to predict what their specific appearance will be at the moment the photo is taken, yet alone gauge the necessary requirements for lighting, focus, timing and many other considerations.
Rarely is the process a smooth and straightforward exercise. Photographers often need to deliberate on each photo’s merit only once it is taken and processed. With this, your technical understanding and capabilities will grow. You’ll start to identify what works from both sides of the camera, which will serve as a source of efficiency later down the track.
When you decide to take self-portraits, you are effectively standing in the shoes of your clients or any models you work with. Through what is largely a trial and error process, you start to better comprehend what it’s like being on the other side of the lens – that is, how your clients feel when they are asked to pose, or posture, in a certain way.
In turn, this helps a photographer recognize how to direct others and make them feel more at ease with the whole process. Self-portraits also help remind the photographer of the differences between what is feasible to shoot, and what is largely uncomfortable to portray. Accordingly, self-portraits can be a valuable source of preparation in anticipation of working with others, and are often a wonderful source of self-education before a photographer decides upon which category they will commit to.
The other element behind self-portraits that shouldn’t be overlooked is their purpose as a creative license. Aside from the technical components mentioned earlier, self-portraits allow a photographer to experiment with the style and artistic vision of their work. One can shoot in advance for a wide range of scenarios and contexts, while also continuing to experiment without fear of the costs associated with a hired model – or time lost to specific clients when you have others to serve.
Overcome your own fear or insecurity of being in front of the camera. The self-confidence will not only help you grow as a photographer, but it might just allow you to realise that relating to your clients experiences will only enhance your photography skills.