week one: selfie

by Amy

so i joined a year long photography challenge group run by a sweet friend.  this being the first week, i was stoked to get the newest assignment (she hides them from us!) and get to gettin creative.

self portrait.

shoot.  this is difficult.

how hard is it to do a self portrait without looking like a total goob?  not only as you are in the process but in the final framed outcome.  yes it is just an image of yourself but at the same time, self portraits tell a story about you as well.  this made the serious images questionable.  what am i doing?  what does this say about me?  what the aych ee double hockey sticks am i looking at so intensely?  the funny images were a blast but then, well…what was i laughing at?  is there an angle where the gap in my teeth isn’t so enormous?  someone else did a laughy picture…am i copying them?

i hated nearly all of them.

but the words of a friend/fellow photographer/past client (yes you jim carroll) kept coming back to me.  “welp.  that is what i look like i guess…”

this is what i look like.  this is how i sit.  that is my speckly grey hair and my grow out.  those are my comfy jeans from a generous sis-in-law and my uber comfy sweater that i try to wear everyday lest no one important saw me in it the day before.  not sure what others see out of me in this image but i liked it the most out of all of them, so i ran with it.  and my husband high-fived me over it which has got to mean something!

feeling half like i love it and half like i am settling for it, i turned it in.  loved the challenge but i would have to say, the challenge won.  maybe i will work on it later or maybe i will learn to love my face more but for now, this is me and my selfie.

want to know what i learned in doing this?

1.  focus.  i wanted a shallow depth of field with a nice fall of from the face.  a 1.4 app won’t work when you are trying to find the exact focus point you set your camera up on.  it is too limited of a plane of focus for being so close to the camera and with such a disticnt point on which i wished to focus.  when you have images of faces, the eyes of all things should be in focus.  i had to set mine to 2.8 to make sure that i had some wiggle room.  i used a chair and made note of where my eyes were level with the backrest, focus there and then tried my best to sit in the exact spot.  that poor chair has never felt so unloved as i shoved it out of my way.

2.  self timer.  not all camera’s have the same options but for mine, i could select how many images i wanted to take after how many seconds i wanted to wait.  thank you nikon d800.  i set mine to a 10 second delay and a six picture shoot with 1 second in between each image.  this gave me enough time to get in front of the camera, sit comfortably AND feel like i was on america’s next top model for six clicks.  exhilarating.

clearly these are in the order of my brain and not the right order.  deal with it.  😉

3.  tripod.  i used a tripod.  i set it up above me with the back of the camera to the window.  my awesome german home with it’s rollladen (built in, outdoor blinds that COMPLETELY block out all light) made for an excellent studio effect.  i closed all the rollladen in my home except the one on the window in front of me.  i used a curtain opened very slightly and pinched in certain spots to allow only enough light through to illuminate me.  i had to do a bit of painting in photoshop to get out some of the details that accidentally showed up in the background but otherwise, it worked well by trial and error until i got it as close as possible.

4.  patience.  be patient as you try and figure out what you want.  review the images and see how you like your face angled best or what side of your face you prefer, etc.  check to see if you need to sit differently for the lighting you desire or if any part of your body looks awkwardly placed and make changes on the next shoot.  or don’t.  it’s up to you.

5.  planning.  i thought about this challenge all week.  what i wanted to do and what actually came out are two different things.  i tried a few of my plans and they flopped.  miserably.  and some i wanted to try but couldn’t due to weather, the amount of children i collect, etc.  but planning it out at least gets you thinking on ways you can approach this.  lets you feel less frazzled as you check off options and finally hit or combine ideas to get what you want.

6.  have fun.  i don’t know how to tell you to have fun.  just do it.  it’s fun even though it’s hard so just…have fun dang it!  😉

7.  it is ok to be embarrassed.  i made my husband leave the room because i felt like such a dork doing this.  seriously.  screaming at him like a banshee when he would come within view of me.  felt like a sixth grade girl with my skirt stuck in my tights…

that is all i know.  i am no expert and i haven’t taken the most amazing self portrait out there but this is what i learned during the process.  like i said, hopefully someday i can take a self portrait that i will be totally proud of.  for now, this is me.  and it was an awesome challenge!

see.  that’s my face.  not yet corrected lighting and not ready for the next click.  this one?  a cover model for how NOT to shoot a self-portrait.  f’real!