One of the questions I always get asked when people look at my outfit photos is “Who takes all those pictures for you? Do you have a photographer?”. Although I have worked with some very talented photographers in the past the vast majority of my pictures are actually selfies. Weirdly enough even in 2017 this frequently baffles people. But let’s face it: if you don’t happen to be in a relationship with a photographer or are actually paying a photographer it’s hard to have someone available to take your pictures several times a week. So today I would love to share with you guys what I have learned throughout the past 4 years about shooting your own outfit pictures. We’ll be performing the magic trick of being behind and in front of the camera at the same time! Let’s get started:
There are basically 3 things you’ll need:
- A camera: Obviously a high quality camera will get you the best results. For my outfit photos I always use my Canon DSLR. If you can’t afford an expensive camera at the moment use what you have and make the most of it. As phone cameras are getting more and more advanced one of the newer smartphones might do for the moment as well.
- A remote control: This is crucial. Most cameras have self-timers and that’s a neat idea for family group pictures but you really don’t want to use it for your fashion shots. Why? Because you’ll have to walk back and forth between your camera and the spot where you have to stand which is going to annoy the hell out of you after the second or third time you did it. A remote makes you so much more efficient as you can take dozens and hundreds of pictures without even having to touch the camera. A remote isn’t really expensive and it will save your life. Get one. Now. + There are also remotes for phones + !
- A tripod: Now when nobody’s holding the camera you’ll have to put it somewhere. I strongly suggest that you get a tripod for that. It’s already hard enough to find a good spot to shoot and there are so many other things you’ll have to think about. So having to find a flat, stable, dry surface in the right place at the right height is just an unnecessary extra challenge we want to avoid. Not having a tripod will just limit the number of places you can shoot in and will probably rule out some of the coolest background options for your photos. There are tripods for phones, too!
Choose your shooting location
When choosing your location there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration:
- You’ll have to get your equipment there all by yourself. That’s not necessarily a problem but I spent a fair bit of time carrying camera, tripod and a huge bag full of clothes and shoes through the dense undergrowth of some forest. Just be aware of that.
- Don’t choose a place that’s too crowded. Unless a large number of people in the background is part of the concept of the photo (maybe you want to convey that urban vibe) try to avoid places with too many people. They might accidentally walk into the photo or, even worse, bump into your tripod. Plus, there’ll always be curious people who will try to start a conversation with you. That’s usually fine but there will always be those few individuals who aren’t sensitive enough to notice when it’s time to leave.
- Opt for a well-lit open space when taking pictures by yourself. This will make it easier for you to get sharp shots. Read on to understand why.
- If you’re taking photos indoors make sure that the room is well-lit and avoid cluttered backgrounds. Not only will this make for nicer pictures it will also help with the next step…
Set the focus
The first thing you’ll do at your location is setting up your tripod and camera. Check how far away your camera has to be from the spot where you’ll be standing. That will depend on your lens and you’ll get a feeling for it after a while. When shooting in a wide open space I recommend setting your camera to auto-focus. The auto-focus can easily pick up on you as the only subject in front of the camera as the background will be pretty far in the distance. If you’re not shooting in an open space you might want to use the manual focus. This could for example be the case if you’re standing between the branches of a bush or tree. Then I’d recommend setting the manual focus on the exact location where you want to be in the picture later. It’s important to either mark that spot or at least remember which branch / rock / spot on the wall you set the focus on.
Take test shots
When your camera with all its settings is ready be sure to take some test shots. Grab your remote and stand in your designated spot in front of the camera. Then return to the camera and have a look. You might notice your head is cut off or that you aren’t in the center of the picture. Make adjustments accordingly. And definitely zoom in on your test shots to make sure the focus is set correctly and your pictures are crisp and clear. It’s often hard to tell on a small camera screen when a picture is a bit blurry so be sure to doublecheck!
While you’re shooting
As there’s no photographer to tell you what to do be sure to experiment with different poses and facial expressions. Using a remote you can take hundreds of shots within a couple of minutes so take full advantage of that by capturing a variety of different versions of the picture. Over time you will get a feeling for your favorite poses that’ll make you look your best even without anyone telling you. Also, frequently check if everything is still in place (hair, necklace etc.) – again, there’s nobody to tell you when something is off (the problem I frequently encounter here is that my hair will cover my entire upper body so the top as well as any jewelry are completely invisible – that’s what I always pay attention to while shooting!). When using auto-focus be sure to re-focus the camera every now and again with your remote (on my remote I can do that by slightly but not fully pressing the shutter button). Especially if you’re moving in front of the camera you might move out of focus. When using manual focus be sure not to move too far away from where you’ve set your focus.
Additional pro tips
- Although I have a remote I will do an occasional paranoia check while shooting and have a look at the camera screen. There are some things you simply can’t see or notice without having a look at the pictures you’ve already taken. Also, it might give you some ideas as to what else to try. Remember – you’re just as much the photographer as you are the model so take a thorough look at the pictures and try to improve everything that doesn’t look quite right yet.
- If you don’t want the remote to be visible in the picture you can hide it behind one of your legs, in a pocket or behind a bag or accessory. If you want both of your hands to be fully visible use the remote to set a 3 second timer, then quickly hide it in a pocket or throw it into the grass (just be sure not to step on it).
- If you’re just getting started on photography in general improving your photography skills and knowledge (we’re talking aperture, shutter speed, ISO…) will go a long way towards taking high-quality outfit pictures of yourself.
Hope these tips helped you guys! Anything I haven’t covered in this post? Please let me know in the comments!
As an inspiration feel free to check out my little gallery below with some of the outfits I’ve shot all by myself throughout the past year. You can find all my outfit photos on my Lookbook.