Brace Yourself-ie: Conventional & Unconventional Self-Portraits

Selfies, while they've existed pretty much since the dawn of photography (see the world's first selfie here), have in the twenty-first century become a hallmark of our culture, for better or worse.  As a photographer, I have always enjoyed finding ways to take selfies that have some sort of artistic merit. My definition of selfie is a photo in which the photographer appears.  A few of these photos really challenge the idea of a selfie, but I do appear in all of them.

The Sunglasses Selfie

I took this photo of my mom in Albany in 2009.  At the time, I actually darkened her sunglasses in Photoshop because I didn't like that I appeared in the photo.  Now I think it's kind of neat!

The "Midnight Snack" Selfie

The idea is not entirely original; plenty of photographers on Flickr have shared their own version of the midnight snack selfie before me, but each execution is different.  Here's a category of selfie that allows for lots of creativity!  A wide angle or fisheye is before for this type of photo.

The Christmas Ornament Selfie

While walking down Broadway in Saratoga shortly after Christmas, my friend Barb called my attention to this Christmas ornament to take a selfie.  I love how spherical ornaments act as a fisheye lens for the world around them.

 The Concept Selfie

I took this photo in my college dorm room back in 2009 for an assignment called "Evening" on the Digital Photography School forum (the forums have since closed but the site is still very much active).  With finals approaching, I was spending most of my evenings working on papers.  At this time, I was just starting to get into photography, and my camera was a simple Canon PowerShot a590is.  I used my hot pot as a tripod and set it on the window sill to take this shot.  I used a 10 second delay so I could get situated.  I had to keep completely still for the duration of the exposure, except my fingers.  I decided I would let them do some typing, since no one just sits with their fingers on a keyboard.  You'll notice the time is after midnight...for college students that is most certainly still "evening"!

It's fun to take a theme suggested by someone else and insert yourself into it.  I ended up getting runner-up in this assignment, but I since have re-edited it and converted it to black and white, as I felt all the color in the original photo was a bit distracting.

The Accidental Window Selfie

There are lots of interesting windows at Walt Disney World.  Take the one above found in the France Pavilion at EPCOT, or the one below at Disney's Hollywood Studios featuring a statue of Maleficent. Inevitably, in photographing these windows, I end up appearing in the photo one way or another.  Maybe this is my camera's way of reminding me to get into more vacation photos, since so often I'm behind the camera!

The Unabashed Mirror Selfie

Mirror selfies are so cliché, but they are also so much fun!  I took the above photo to use as a profile picture on social media, and I took the below one in a store.

Selfie in the Mirror

The On-Ride Selfie

At the end of the Haunted Mansion ride at Walt Disney World, a ghost magically appears in your doom buggy with you, reflected in a mirror for you to see.  It's pretty dark, so a fast lens is a must.

The Hidden Eye Selfie

Hi Minnie!

When I took this photo of Minnie in the Festivals of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World, I didn't realize that I was in it!  If we zoom in on Minnie's eye (below), you can see me.  I'm the sky blue polo near the left with the camera up to my face.  This may challenge your definition of a selfie, but I see it as another way I left my hidden mark on a photo.

In the photo of my cat below, you can also see another example of this phenomenon.

The Yoga Selfie

Yoga Selfie!

I took on this idea because I knew it would be challenging.  I pre-focused my lens with my camera on a tripod, then opened up the Canon remote app on my phone.  Once I got into position, I triggered the shutter from my phone on a 2 second delay and actually managed to smile for the photo!

The That-Can't-Possibly-Be-A Selfie

Self Portrait:  Congressfalse

Who needs a selfie stick?  How about a tripod and a wifi capable camera?  I took these shots in Congress Park in Saratoga with my Canon 6D using the EOS Remote app on my phone.

Self Portrait:  Tree at Night

The Headshot Selfie

I took this photo back in 2010 to use for my icon shots on social networks or "about me" pages on blogs or on Flickr.  To do this, I made quite a silly-looking setup.  I mounted my camera on my Joby Gorillapod SLR (I didn't have a real tripod at the time).  I wrapped that around the back of a chair.  Then I mounted my flash to a smaller Gorillapod and wrapped it around the chair, backwards, next to it.  I connected the flash to the camera with a sync cable (the 270ex I was using does not have wireless capabilities]), and placed a white poster board behind the flash (facing it) to use as a reflect the light back at me.  I was sitting in front of the door to use as a white background.  I used a remote sutter release to take the shot.  The pattern came from onOne photo frame.

The Fisheye Foot Selfie

Keeping My Feet on the Ground

When you point a fisheye lens directly downwards, it looks like you're standing on top of a globe, which makes for a unique foot selfie.

The Cameo Selfie

Cameo Self PortraitI really wanted to make a cameo-style profile self portrait using a flash gel to light the background.  I used a Canon 600EX-RT as a disabled master and a Yongnuo 560 III with a red gel fired at the wall (I changed the color in Photoshop).  I used the EOS Remote app on my phone, which takes advantage of the 6D's built-in wifi, to take the shot.

Self Portrait Double Exposure

Once I created the cameo portrait, I couldn't help thinking it might make a cool double exposure.  I'm not clever enough to accomplish this sort of thing in-camera (the 6D does have a neat double-exposure feature, but I wasn't about to fly over to Paris just to take the second shot), so I took the portrait and a photo I took of the Eiffel Tower into Photoshop to blend them.  All I did was reduce the saturation on my portrait and overlay the Eiffel Tower using "screen" as the blending mode.

So, there you have some of the ways I have interpreted the concept of a selfie.  What are some of your selfie ideas?


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