“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it.”
Why are you passionate about this topic?
Us as photographers spend all of our time behind the camera, capturing memories for other families as well as our own. But how often are we in those pictures? Never. Unless we hand the camera off to someone else and half the time the pictures don’t turn out because not everyone knows their way around a DSLR and quick snapshots or selfies with a phone just don’t cut it. It’s important for everyone to get in the frame, but it’s extremely important for parents to get in the frame with their kids. Step out from your comfort zone behind the camera and get in front of it as often as you can. Show your kids that you existed and were present with them in the moment. Don’t worry about the things that you may not like about yourself. When your kids see photos of you, they aren’t going to be pointing out that spit-up stain on your shirt, your messy hair, the lack of makeup on your face, or that extra baby weight. They are going to remember the the moments; a trip to the beach, reading a bedtime story, snuggling on the couch, going for a walk, or baking cookies. We do so many things with our children, make sure they have pictures of you doing those things with them.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I started experimenting with self portraits from the moment I got my first DSLR in 2011, after my first son was born. Since then, I’ve felt the desire to be in photos with my kids and I’m constantly practicing and perfecting different techniques.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique?
1.) Practice, practice, practice! Self portraits involve a lot of trial and error, believe me. If your portraits aren’t turning out how you’d like, don’t get discouraged. I used to go through a whole memory card and end up with only a few usable ones.
2.) Use a stand-in. This helps me out big time because one of the hardest things to do when taking self portraits is nailing the focus. Use an inanimate object like a chair, vacuum, laundry basket, or use your kids. Focus where you want, then (this step is important) switch to manual focus, once your focus is where you want it and your settings are good, get in the frame and move the inanimate object if need be, but make sure you stand/sit in that same focal plane or the focus will be off.
3.) Invest in a tripod and wireless remote shutter release. When I first started I didn’t have either and utilized what I had. I propped my camera on top of tables, chairs, whatever was available, set the self timer and ran into place. Once I got a tripod, it made things a lot easier. And for five years I used the self timer setting on my camera to take ALL of my self portraits because I was constantly misplacing my wireless remote or never bothered to figure it out. The photos that are posted along with this blog are all photos from my ‘A Day in the Life’ project and that was the first day that I had ever used my wireless remote for self portraits. And let me tell you… TOTAL. GAME. CHANGER.
4.) Take your self portraits as if you were doing a session for a client. Visualize where you are going to be in the photo and set up your camera accordingly. Be creative with different angles and focal points, just like you would while taking photos of someone else. Experiment with different types of light as well.
5.) Commit to a project. Whether that’s a 365 days, 52 weeks, 12 months, or a Day in the Life project, that’s up to you! By committing to a project, you hold yourself accountable to get in the frame more often. It’s also a great way to practice.
What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
One of the challenges I had in the beginning was not having the right equipment. When I didn’t have a tripod or remote, I had to make due with what I had and it was really difficult to get the shots I wanted. But I feel like I proved to myself that all I need is a camera and a bit of creativity in order to get the job done. Just because you don’t have the right equipment, isn’t an excuse to avoid getting in the frame.
About the photographer:
Chelsea is a stay-at-home-mom and Lifestyle Photographer located in the Houston, Texas area. She’s lived there for the past 3 years with her husband, their two boys, and two cats. She finds the beauty in the everyday moments, while documenting the lives of her two littles. She’s recently taken a hiatus from client work, to refine her focus and once again find the reason she fell in love with photography.
Website. Facebook. Instagram (1). Instagram (2).