So, I hate taking pictures of myself. I honestly don't mind other people taking photos of me, but get me alone with just my camera (or phone) and I don't know what to do. I don't know what my best side is, or if my hair looks stupid, or where to put my hands. I've got no problem directing other people during a photoshoot, but I feel like a total goof shooting myself without someone else's direction.
I was binge-reading through some articles at www.thestrobist.com (incredible website and resource by the way) and came across a point that really hit me: if you don't have a semi-professional looking photo of yourself to use for your online presence, why would anyone take you seriously as a portrait photographer?
Huh. That's a good point. I guess this is happening.
I locked myself in the garage and set up my gear. I went with a single speedlight with a shoot-through umbrella, a black backdrop, and a folding chair. My makeup lady was out of town so I made due without her.
(I don't have a makeup lady.)
Using an old tripod as my stand-in, I setup my gear and played around with exposure and lighting settings. Once I was happy with what I was getting, I swapped out the tripod, set my timer, and sat down in front of the business side of my camera.
It was a bit of a tedious process: make a stupid face, snap a few, check camera, adjust tripod, try a different stupid face, snap some more, check camera, adjust focal length, try a different face, snap a few more, etc. What I found was, the more pictures I took and reviewed, the better idea I had of what I wanted the final product to look like. After 20 or so attempts, I basically got what I was looking for. Add some tonal adjustments and a black & white conversion (for dramatic effect) and I was happy with my final result.
Looking back, I definitely could have saved some time by hooking up a monitor to my camera and watching the screen to get the composition, pose and expression correct right off the bat. But I kind of enjoyed the process of taking a few photos at a time and checking them to see what worked and what didn't. By making reactive adjustments rather than proactive ones I think I got a more spontaneous and natural look to my photos; if I was staring at a screen and watching myself in real-time, I don't know if the result would have been the same.
I still don't know what my good side is and I still feel weird using the front camera on my iphone, but taking the time to do a proper headshot with a goal in mind is something I will definitely attempt again.