How to: creative selfies at home
In normal times I would probably be posting photos on Instagram about the surftrip to Hossegor that would have took place earlier this month, or I would be posing in front of a cute church or breathtaking view in or outside of Belgium. But these days most of the selfies I post on social media are all taken in the same house or even in the same room. And it can be challenging to keep those same walls interesting! Following the interview with Jong Volk about my creative self-portraits, I decided to give you some more information about how I keep my feed somewhat fascinating.
Earlier I shared with you how you can bring more adventure in your life by embracing boredom. I still stand 100% behind that idea because that exact boredom sparked tons of creativity within me. One of the outcomes has been that I picked up painting and drawing again, but I also started taking selfies at home to another level. I've always loved to create moodboards for photoshoots and organize these, find props and outfits until the whole thing came together as imaged. But for reasons I wrote about before I decided to stop doing fashion shoots and other modeling jobs. Today I still like being in front of the camera but only when it happens on my own terms. And right now this means being my own photographer, stylist and scenographer. In this post I want to take you with me and tell my 'secrets' on creating creative portraits or selfies during these quarantine days.
How I get inspired
Decide for yourself what style you like and which photos really speak to you. My favorite places to find what I need are Pinterest and Instagram. Some accounts that inspire me a lot on Instagram are the next ones; @kyliekatich, @janeinsane, @tezza, @marta__sierra and for style (and edits) in specific: Laura from @laurandnicolas.
My search for inspiration can go both ways. Sometimes I want to shoot certain items like my beautiful Okéan ring or create a series around celebrating your birthday during this quarantine (as I did this year). Or I see something around me that inspires me, like oranges or flowers. In that case I start searching on those keywords on social media and see what pops up. I decide what poses I like, which settings and decors are lovely, what colors they've used to create a certain picture or just take in the overall atmosphere. I combine the elements that I like and set them to my hand.
Other times, when I am scrolling and not looking for something special, I might see a photo where everything in frame is just perfect and blows my mind. In that case I save it instantly so I have it for later, whenever I feel like actually doing something with it. You can see an example below of my Pinterest board 'editorial inspo' where I pin photos that are just totally awesome to me. When I start from an existing "wauw" photo, I try to create a shot that comes very close to the original version, but by using props and cloths I already own.
Use what you have
There's no need to spend thousands of euros on expensive photo material. I shoot all my selfies with my (three year old) smartphone and by daylight! You can use books, chairs, small but heavy objects, tape and more to secure your smartphone and create your own tripod. But although it's not necessary to buy a tripod, I find it an extremely handy tool to own. I bought mine about two years ago and spend less than €30 on it. It's very basic, kinda starts falling apart, but it's also lightweight and it does what it needs to do: hold my phone in the angle I want it to be. Another thing I bought is a mini remote, so I don't have to run back to my phone all the time to reinstall the timer. I also discovered this: when I shout 'shoot' or 'smile' to my phone when it's in camera mode, it takes pictures as well! This can be handy when I forget my remote but it can also be a little awkward in public :')
Take a look at the objects you already have at home. (Plastic) flowers, plants, old blankets, canvasses, colored paper sheets, feathers, your own clothes or clothes you can borrow from your roomies, cute teacups, fruit, a projector to project a background on the wall ... There's a whole world of useful props waiting for you to make them the star of your next home photoshoot! If you need some inspiration to get started, there are many YouTube videos that will reveal more tips and tricks on how to create your own backdrops, props and more. Many of those are DIY and low budget projects, just what I love! It gives you the perfect situation to dig around in your room and be surprised of all the stuff you already own and how you can use it for your shoot. By reusing those items or creating new ones with 'old' materials, you save money and it's kinder to our planet then buying new stuff.
For example: I created the 'quarantine birthday cake' photo below by using a blanket as backdrop, a flag garland I still had from a previous birthday, toilet paper rolls, birthday candles, real and fake flowers, a gold covered cardboard I used to cut out the '25' and these cute silver star-ribbons. Zero euro and about half an hour of my time was spend to create it.
Look where the daylight enters the room, how it moves throughout the day, which shadows are created. Maybe you want to shoot with natural, soft light, maybe you love harsh lines and darker shadows. Chances are it's already created naturally in your room, you just didn't notice the play of shadows and light before. Observe what furniture has nice details, what your floor looks like, the colors and prints on your wall. I am sure you can get creative with every type of wallpaper or window!
Change your perspective, frame and filter
Play with the angle of the camera. More closer, more far away, try shooting from below or from above. Experiment with full body shots, portraits, photos of (outfit) details. Or create more depth by moving yourself or objects closer or further away from the camera. Make some kind of frame or filter by putting things very close to or even on your lens. Try out different angels and focuses. Or rotate your photo 90° or 180° after you shot it, to create an optical illusion. Don't be afraid to try new things, it will make your photos way more interesting.
This tip is actually what I talk about in the previous tip as well, but don't be afraid to use your body and move around! It can feel very awkward at first but it really helps to try poses in front of a mirror and practice expressions. It doesn't stop with your body: check what furniture can be moved around and create whole new spaces within the same room! For one shoot I moved my bed, for another one I have to cleaned up the whole floor. It will take you longer to create a setting but you might be surprised how many possibilities you have now.
When I shoot it goes like this: first I set up my tripod and decide how I want to frame my photo, then I adjust the tripod accordingly. When I have everything how I want it to be, I lock the focus and exposure by tapping and holding my screen on the spot or item I want to see sharp. When this is all set I get in front of the camera, try some stuff, check the results regularly, adjust where necessary, get back in front to try new poses and so on.
The one with the oranges: one location, two very different photos
Example 1: the upside down orange photo
For this photo I tried recreating a shot I saw on Bella Hadid's Instagram. I loved it from the moment I saw it and really wanted to try this out. It was trickier than I thought, because to pose was kind of hard to hold. At the same time my face needed to look somewhat relaxed. So you can imagine there were many failed photos before I took the one I liked.
I moved the carpet, moved some furniture, placed oranges on the floor to make the shot more interesting and set up my tripod. I tried a few outfits and decided to go with shorts/panties and a knitted turtle neck to balance the amount of bare skin a bit. The color of the sweater also went really well with the oranges. I locked the focus and exposure on where I was going to pose and then I just started shooting. I had my remote with me and put my camera timer on 5 seconds, so I would have time to find my pose, press the remote, hide it behind my back and place my hands above my head. From start to finish this whole shoot took me about two hours. Afterwards I cropped the selected photo and used Lightroom mobile ( free app) to edit the colors in the photo. For this I bought a preset pack from Passport In One Hand. I use it to edit nearly all my photos.
Example 2: the juicy portrait
My inspiration to use oranges in the first place came very random. I was pressing fresh orange juice for myself and loved how bright the colors were. I took a photo of it to post on my Instagram story and did my morning meditation. After that I kept thinking about the colors of it (blame the quarantine) and used them first in the shoot above. I wanted to do more with this bright palette of orange but I also wanted to create a very different photo than the first one I took.
So I changed clothes, put on some red lipstick to make it extra colorful and decided this was going to be a 'flatlay' photoshoot, so shot from above. It took me some time to find an angle I liked without seeing to much of my tripod. Again, I used my remote but now without timer, I locked the focus in the middle of the floor and started to play around with expressions, depth, and the oranges around me. In between I checked a couple of times if I liked the composition and light, and took place again on the floor to continue shooting. I took this shot in about half an hour, from creating the set to shooting the final photo. I edited the shot with one of the presets and made sure you couldn't see my tripod anymore. I have to admit that my photoshop work isn't done that good (same goes for the cover photo of this article whoops) but I bet no one noticed it yet since there is so much going on!
I hope I was able to help you on your journey to more advanced selfies. To me it's a fun way to stay creative these days and create some dreamy, playful shots in the middle of all this chaos. If you liked this article, please feel free to share my tips with the world. In case you want to read more articles like this one: let me know in the comments!
Have a lovely day x