Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

How Self Portraiture Can Make You A Better Photographer

On our Portrait course one of the assignments I set is that students in the class pair up and take pictures of each other in a formal portrait way. The idea is that until you have experienced being photographed by another photographer you might not know what the experience feels like. In gaining that experience you are much more likely to have empathy with your future subjects. I really believe this is an important lesson. This article on the Fuel Your Photography blog by Brooke Snow hints at the same, this is what she says:

“It was frustration that eventually led me to self portraiture.  Frustration and jealousy!  I was excited about the images that I was creating both professionally, and personally, and kept telling my family “Do you know how lucky you are?! You can get fabulous images of you and your family compliments of me!”

But who was there to photograph me and my own family? The challenge wasn’t so much about not being willing to pay someone (I totally believe in hiring a pro for yearly portraits), it was more the frustration of the everyday things that happen. My heart is drawn to lifestyle photography and the storytelling power of photographing everyday life.  I’m not going to have access to another professional every time we have a family gathering, go on a family adventure, or I just plain took the the time to get ready and put on a new dress for no special reason! As I’ve come closer and closer to knowing who I am as a photographer and how I uniquely see the world, this longing has only increased. The longing to not just document how I see other people and their life and relationships, but how I personally see my own life. My view of my family, my relationships, and even myself, will not be the same view as someone else.  This isn’t to say another person’s perspective doesn’t have as much value, it’s just going to be different. And there is  something deeply rewarding and enlightening behind uncovering your own vision of yourself and your family.  Afterall, you know these relationships better than anyone.”

Self portraiture for me, is loosely defined as any image that:

1.  I create a vision for

2.  That I’m in.

I don’t care if someone else pushes the shutter button, or if other people are present in the photograph.  Those two things alone should be considered an achievement!....MORE  In the rest of the article she explains her process and gives tips on how you can do it better

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