Take Self-Portraits

portraits of yourself by yourself

You will need

  • a Tripod

  • Although many light-weight aluminum tripods are cheap (less than $10), they are not made to support heavier cameras. If you have a small point-and-shoot then a lightweight aluminum tripod will work just fine. If you have a heavier advanced compact camera or DSLR, you will need a heavier and generally more expensive tripod. 
  • If you have a heavy camera, do not skimp and try to use a cheaper, lighter tripod. When you set your camera on your tripod, run in front of the camera, and a breeze comes by, your tripod will likely tip and your camera will break.
  • Consider a tripod with quick release plates so you don't have screw and unscrew your camera onto your tripod every time. 

the tripod I use: the SUNPAK 7500-pro with quick release

  • a Self-Timer

  • Your camera should be equipped with a self-timer function. Refer to your camera’s manual for more information. 
  • Note that when using the self-timer, your camera will not autofocus when you are in front of the camera. The focus is set when the timer is set. 

  • an IR remote (recommended)

  • An IR remote allows you to trigger the camera shutter and, more importantly unlike the self-timer, focus when you are in front of the camera. 
  • I recommend IR remotes over cabled remote controls for self-portraiture. IR remotes may have a lower success rate in triggering the shutter compared to cabled remotes but they can go a lot further and, of course, there are no ugly cables to get in the way. 
  • Consult a search engine for more differences between IR and cable remote controls to see which choice is right for you and your needs.
  • Consult a search engine for the IR remote suited for your camera brand and model.

  • a Placeholder (recommended especially with self-timers)

the IR remote I use: the ML-L3

  • When using self-timers, put the placeholder where you will be to assist with achieving the proper focus and composition. 

  • Mirrors (optional)

  • For closer self-portraits, place a mirror behind the camera, angled such that you can see the LCD screen from in front of the camera as you pose to help with composition.


  1. Put a placeholder and aim your camera towards where you will be. 
  2. Compose the shot and adjust the focus accordingly from behind the camera. 
  3. Set and activate the self-timer if you're using a self-timer. Leave enough time to get in front of the camera and pose.
  4. Then get in front of the camera, toss the placeholder aside, take its place, and pose. 
  5. Trigger the IR remote if you're using an IR remote.
  6. Check the photo you just took. 
  7. Adjust your pose and repeat if necessary.


  • If you still end up with a blurry photo, try using a smaller aperture for a deeper DOF. 
  • Use a wider lens and include more in each photo than what you want in the final photo. Then crop into the proper composition in post-editing.
  • You will most likely have to repeat this procedure many times to get the desired composition. 

Repetition is easiest with an IR remote. Just pose, click, alter your pose slightly, click, and repeat, each time altering your pose slightly and hopefully one shot will result in the desired composition. Repetition is more difficult with a self-timer and will require a lot of systematic trials. Set your timer, pose, then see how the photo turns out. If it’s not in the composition you want, set your timer, then pose in basically the same manner but slightly adjusted based on how the last photo turned out. 

  • Try using an IR remote with a 2 second timer. Activate the timer with the remote and place the remote aside. Now you can use your hands freely in the composition as opposed to having to hold an ugly remote. 

Results (using an IR remote) 

Results (using a self-timer)

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