10 Tips for Better Self-Portrait Photography

Posted on
Jan 12, 2012

Over the years, I’ve amassed an impressive collection of self-portraits from our travels (and roped my poor, innocent husband into a few shots as well). I take them with one arm extended as far in front of me as my short-limbed genes will allow, and I click a half-dozen times. With any luck, in at least one of those photos, I will appear to have fewer chins than John Goodman (I mean no disrespect to the man who brought characters as timeless as Dan Conner and King Ralph to life. He is a national treasure.)

Though really, more often than not, Rand or I will glance at our shocking un-photogenic mugs and say to the other, “You are the only person on the planet who will ever find me attractive.” (Which is perfectly okay, kids. You only need one near-sighted fool to think you’re pretty.)

Given the number of self-portraits I’ve taken, and the limited complete and utter lack of talent I possess for photography, I’ve learned a thing or two. Here’s my list of dos and don’ts for mastering those tricky one-armed self-portrait shots, and making sure that all of your chins are displayed in the best light.


  1. Do make all subjects are clearly visible. And that you aren’t, say, covering your long-suffering spouse’s adorable mug with your own ginormous head. Which is made even MORE ginormous by a hat.

    This is Rand's "I'm not amused" eye.

  2. Do figure out what your best angle is. For me, it’s my left side.

    The downside of this is that nearly all our vacation self-portraits are IDENTICAL.

    I repeat, MY LEFT SIDE, and not, say, straight-on, which gives me the distinct impression of looking like one of those troll dolls that were all the rage in middle school.

    Fact: under that hood is a poof of neon pink hair.

  3. Do make sure everyone in the photo is conscious.

    I am going to be in such trouble for this photo. And yet, I have no regrets.

  4. Do invite other people into your shot, because with any luck, one of them will look like a pirate.


  5. Do try to find an interesting background.

    I don't know why this photo makes me laugh so much. I think it's how smug I look. "NYAH NYAH NYAH! I have skin and you don't!"

  6. Don’t worry about taking photos at funky angles. Holding your camera high and tilted is a great way to avoid double chins. Which isn’t a problem if you are as stunning as my aunt (grumble, grumble).

    She's not a blood relation, so it's not like I can inherit any of those fantastic genes, anyway.

  7. Don’t forget to adjust your focus.

    Barcelona? I don't remember too much about that trip. THINGS GOT KINDA FUZZY! (Ba-dum-dum!)

  8. Don’t pay so much attention to how you look that you crop out something important.

    I may not have a double chin but what does that matter when I CUT OFF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY'S ARM?

  9. Don’t over-expose yourself (I mean camera-exposure. Though you probably want to avoid having a nip-slip, too). At such a close range, it’s easy to look washed out by the flash.

  10. Don’t zoom in too closely.  You’ll scare the children.

    Now you know what your goldfish feels like.

So take my advice. Or don’t. Because you know what? It doesn’t matter. Sometimes you’re left with a blurry vacation photo because a dark-haired boy with twinkly eyes just swept you off your feet.

And when you see it, all you can think is, “Man. That’s a great picture.”

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