Self-portraiture has always been a popular genre among photographers. And nowadays, it’s almost impossible to browse through your Instagram feed without seeing a selfie. But there’s more to taking an incredible self portrait than just taking a quick snap with your smartphone! A self portrait is about expressing yourself, showing the world who you are and what you are feeling. It’s time to start thinking beyond the basic selfie! Put that creative mind of yours to work and come up with some unique self portrait ideas of your own.
Why you ask?
Simple. It will not only help you to master your photography skills but will also give you a chance to get to know yourself better. And let’s not forget the best part, when you’re taking pictures of yourself, you’ll get a model who does exactly what you ask!
Need a little inspiration? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We asked photographers from all around the world to share their favorite self portrait photos with us. We’ve also curated some really incredible self portrait ideas from the commons and, of course, our awesome community members!
Use these 35 intriguing self portraits to give you some ideas on how to start out.
35 Creative Self Portrait Ideas
Discover More From Iulia: 500px
About The Self Portrait: “The title of the photograph is Pizarnik by the writer Alejandra Pizarnik. In a somewhat cloudy period of my life, I took a lot of affection for the way to write his thoughts in poems nothing, though, simple feeling and also, I came to recognize in many occasions with her and her words. This image is my humble homage to her.”
About The Self Portrait: “This particular image is the first shot my project LE MANI IN FACCIA #lemaniinfaccia (Hands on face). The project was to investigate the relationship between the subject and his own hands, putting all 5 senses in one square picture. All pictures are taken with a Lensbaby tilt-shift lens.”
About The Self Portrait: “This photo was created in a lavender field in England, last summer while my sister and I lived there for 3 1/2 months. It was actually taken on my birthday, as we ventured to Mayfield Lavender Farm with some friends to spend the day taking photos. Typically with self portraits I will use my tripod, however if I have my sister (Davina) around, I like to use her as my “human tripod” so I can get more interesting angles without so much hassle ;). So for this shot I simply laid myself on the ground amongst the lavender and had my sister stand directly above me and shoot down. Pretty simple set up, but being surrounded by such beauty made it easy to get a good shot just about anywhere.”
About The Self Portrait: “The shoot was a spontaneous one, I just really wanted to test the light in front of the window of the new flat that we (my boyfriend and me) moved in because it looked to beautifully soft. I used the wifi mode of my Canon 6D with my iPhone as a remote, so that i could focus manually while being in front of the camera as well. I really love how the pictures turned out, I have been using that spot to shoot portraits of different models several times ever since.”
About The Self Portrait: “My mom was horrified with this pic, but I explained to her that it is about “changes”, something that someday was dark, today, with wisdom, becomes love.”
Discover More From Natalia: DeviantArt
About The Self Portrait: “Dairy mists have always been an inspiration to me. I wanted to be part of a ghostly nature and lost among drowsy trees… Self portrait ‘Haze’ is the story of the fog settled in my soul.”
Related Article: Ultimate guide to fog photography
About The Self Portrait: “As I remember, I had the camera on the tripod with two flashes left and right with white umbrellas, the wireless transmitter in my hand, and I shot, shot, shot till the final focus image!”
About The Self Portrait: “It is a self portrait inspired by the Technicolor color process, famous for its highly saturated colors, originally consisting in a two-tone system (as you may have guessed): red and green.”
About The Photo: “I had hoped to use my new flash for illumination but that was ultimately too much of a complication in the limited time I had available so I ended up having a table lamp to my left and I held a reflector to my right to soften some of the shadows on my face.”
About The Self Portrait: “A quite spontaneous idea, which went from an image in the head to an image on the screen in just a few hours. Not often that I realize the pictures in my head that fast! Everything here is also one picture, no composite.”
Discover More From Matty: Flickr
About The Self Portrait: “This is a composite image/photo illustration. It took about 5 hours to create. I don’t want to turn back time, but I really wish I had a time machine so I could go back and set up this scene a little better.
To create the photo I took 4 exposures of the scene with the clock, glass of water and lamp in order to get the look, color, and reflections that I wanted for each part of the scene. I set the clock to roughly 8 and shot the clock on a slight angle. I made a mental note of the angles used in the scene.
Everything was set up underneath a window that the sun was shining into. I used a manila file folder to reflect the sunlight back on to the scene and get the lighting and reflections the way I wanted them to look. I shot the scene with my Pentax k-30 with an SMC Pentax A 50mm 1.7 attached with the aperture set to f2 to achieve a sharp photo with a shallow depth of field.
For the second part, I set up a 6ft step ladder and ran a pair of handrails duct-taped together from the ladder to my workbench and I made sure that angles I was setting up at were roughly the same as in the scene I had shot previously. I shot the second photo on a 12-second timer using my Pentax k-30 with an SMC Pentax 35mm 3.5 lens attached, I set the aperture to f8 or f11, so that I would not have a shallow depth of field.
To light the second shot I placed 2 softboxes side by side with a Yongnuo yn-460ii and a yn-560ii inside them, basically forming a 4×3 foot softbox to mimic the lighting reflected by the manila file folder in the previous scene. I placed the side by side softboxes to the front left of the camera directed them slightly downwards at the subject. Then I set up a white shoot through umbrella to the front right of the camera about 3ft off the floor with a Minolta 4000 AF behind it to mimic the ambient light in the first scene. I triggered the strobes with a PT-04 trigger and receivers.
I took my photos into Photoshop and did some fancy/trendy editing/processing.”
About The Self Portrait: “I got the idea from another pic I saw at 500px – it was done in a similar way and I wanted to see if I could do anything like it. As I don’t have a studio at home, I basically took it in front of a white wall. I isolated the upper body from the background by drawing a mask with my mouse, copied the whole body to a new layer and scaled it a bit larger. That’s the now bigger and blurry copy on the right side.
Then I created a layer mask from that bigger version, cut out the part of the original upper body with that mask and pasted it as a new layer. That way I split the original body in two parts – the right arm/shoulder and part of the head which are faded in the end, and the bigger portion of the body which is still left in original colors.
Then I merged the larger version in the background and the part of the original body that I wanted to fade and ran this layer through Analog Efex, which is part of the now free Nik Collection by Google. That took care of the blurriness, the fading and the structure on the left side for me. It has photo Presets for that kind of thing.”
About The Self Portrait: This photo is taken on my 28th birthday in a warm small lake in Viljandi, Estonia. This was the time when I was very unsure about myself and what direction I wanted a head with my life. So I created this portrait of myself that it looks like I am pushing myself under water. Like I am not allowing myself to rise up.
I was composing the shot and then had my partner pressing the shutter button for me. It was really hard keeping this expression and pose as the water kept coming to my mouth and ears and it was quite uncomfortable!
About The Self Portrait: “I made this self portrait using a single speed light with a grid, pretty simple. And my motivation just wanted to register my face at this time of my life, when I decided to dedicate my life to Photography.”
About The Self Portrait: “The picture is taken by me of myself almost a year ago. The idea behind the shot is simple. I was by myself on a walk and I wanted a picture of myself so, I thought if I use my phone to light my face and set the camera on a self trigger, it might turn out to be something cool. So, basically, it was just by trial and error. Haha. And the result I got was mind-blowing (according to me).”
Discover More From Martin: 500px
About The Self Portrait: “That picture was inspired by my work on smoke. Most of the shots of that series are liquid nitrogen or incense smoke, products that I absolutely don’t want into my mouth. A cigar is a good option but I’m not a smoker and I have been feeling the smoke into my mouth for almost a day.
SETUP: One single flash unit straight into my face and a white reflector on the left side of my head.”
Related Article: Low key lighting guie
Chantal van den Broek
About The Self Portrait: “I wanted to create a whimsical photo with a new jumper I received that I thought would suite my idea perfectly. I headed to my location, a local spot a few minutes walk from my house and set up my camera on a tripod.
I waited for the golden hour to achieve the warm glow in the photo, personally, I feel like this location I’ve been to many times before works better in the afternoon as the background lights up beautifully with the setting sun.
Then, I set up my camera to be able to use the shutter with a remote. I took a few photos of myself jumping around to get some movement in my hair until I was happy with the photos I had photographed!”
Discover More From Adam: PhotoBlog
About The Self Portrait: “I wanted to express this feeling of mourning I’ve had.”
About The Self Portrait: “Having taken a billion or so pictures, sometimes I run out of ideas and just feel discouraged at taking the same old thing every time. So when a golden idea like trekking around the Oregon woods in flip flops, strapped with kites and a surfboard hits me, I grab the Poison Ivy ointment and get to work!
In typical fashion, all the lighting was done with headlamps. Not because I was trying to be artistic or cool (unlike Sweetgrass’s Afterglow movie, awesome), I just am too cheap to buy real lighting equipment.”
Have you found some self-portraits you like? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to share your ideas, thoughts, and portraits in the comment field below. And when you do go out there and shoot your self portrait, come back and share so we can love it, too!
Subscribe and get a free downloadable photography lighting cheat sheet
Download FREE Photography Lighting Cheat Sheet
Subscribe and get a free downloadable photography lighting cheat sheet