Top self portrait photographers from the previous century until today that will amaze you. Their unusual portfolios, life stories, surreal and fine art photos and the secrets of becoming famous self portraiture photographers.
What Self Portrait Photographers Do?
Self portrait photography is a genre of photography where a photographer takes pictures of himself/herself. The very first self-portrait was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839. At first sight, it seems to be quite easy, but it is only before you face the process. Being a photographer and a model at the same time is difficult. On the other hand, self portraits allows you to realize the ideas you have had in mind all this time. It will help look at yourself from different sides.
15 Famous Self Portrait Photographers
These 15 famous self portrait photographers are great in their own way. Each of them has made contribution to modern art and these people deserve to be mentioned here. Below, you will get acquainted with their famous photos that will blow your mind.
1. David Uzochukwu Website
Even though Uzochukwu is only 19 years old, he has been engaged in self portrait photography for six years. He started it because he likes that every step of the shooting process can be done by himself. Uzochukwu is originally from Austria and has been moving around quite a lot. He spent his childhood in Luxembourg and Brussels. Soon, he is going to leave Vienna for Berlin. Self-portraiture helps the young man to become more aware of his inner feelings and the kind of person he actually is.
2. Kyle Thompson Website
Kyle Thompson is a famous surreal self portrait photographer, though he doesn’t have an education in this sphere. He has a passion for deserted locations, such as macabre forests or abandoned buildings. Kyle is a true nature lover, who, at the same time, is disgusted with the outskirts, where he spent his youth. He believes that suburbs are nothing but artificially made reality. He likes emphasizing his belonging to surrealism, and often uses effects which are typical for this style: smoke, water, mirrors and balloons help him show abstract concepts.
3. Laura Zalenga Website
Laura Zalenga belongs with the self portrait photographers who want to show their deep inner world by means of photography. Her photos always look awesome thanks to natural lightning and the unbelievable scenery she prefers. It is hard not to notice that she adores herself. She has an architectural education, but only photography became her passion. With the help of self photography and Photoshop, she tries to understand herself better and become happier.
4. Isabella Bubola Website
Isabella Bubola is famous as a model, but she is also a fine art/portrait photographer. She is inspired by surrealism, colors and dreams. Isabella has her own website where you may see her works both as a model and as a photographer. She is also a blogger, who shares fashion and self portrait photography tips with her followers.
5. Rosie Hardy Website
Rosie Hardy is a professional photographer from Manchester who is well-known all over the world. She is not just a self portrait photographer. Rosie also takes portrait and wedding photos and all of them are amazing. Her works are mysterious in some way and we may notice the theme of unity with nature. You may find a selection of portraits from the 365 Day collection on her website.
6. Trish Morrissey Website
Trish Morrissey is among those self portrait photography artists who are focused on the topics of family relations and relations between strangers. Her most recognized project is called Front. In the shots, Trish surrounded herself with unknown people and created “family” portraits. One more amazing project, Seven Years, features Trish and her old sister in the collection of scenes which imitate traditional family pictures.
7. Cindy Sherman Website
Speaking of self portrait photographers, I should absolutely mention Cindy Sherman. She became engaged in photography at the end of the 1970s. The main characteristic of her art is the ability to transform into various characters, similar to a chameleon. Cindy took the record-breaking photo, Untitled #96, which was sold at Christie’s auction for $3.89 million in 2011. At that period of time, it was the most expensive shot ever bought. Cindy presents her self-portraiture in series. There is no general explanation of her works, everyone may interpret them in his/her own way. She approaches the outfits and makeup for photography very meticulously.
8. Deana Lawson Self Portrait Website
Deana Lawson is a modern female photographer self portrait artist from the USA. Her style is the combination of structured composition and convincing openness. Deana’s shots are dedicated to the topics of black history and cultural memory. She is interested in the lives of black people and she captures them in intensely centralized scenes. Feeling the fine line between reality and photography, she manages to convey empathy in her intimate portraiture. Deana’s style is distinguished by the well-thought-out arrangement of people and items in the frame. The woman believes that the photographer’s attitude and viewpoint concerning the subjects are crucial to changing the mood of portrayal. With the help of her photography, Deana tries to create another norm of values and states that the day-to-day life of black people is fantastic, full of emotions and amazing adventures.
9. Francesca Woodman Self Portrait Photographers
Francesca Woodman is one of the most prominent self portrait photographers with a tragic fate. She was born in the USA and gained recognition due to her slightly creepy black and white portraiture. Unfortunately, Francesca’s photography wasn’t widely acknowledged by the public. Trying to cope with depression, she committed suicide when she was only 22. After her death, Francesca’s works acquired another, newer sense. As a fan of surrealism and conceptualism, she shot with slow shutter speed and long exposure to achieve truly spooky atmosphere in the shots. This woman believed that being a self portrait photographer is very convenient since the model is constantly at hand.
Photo by Francesca Woodman
10. Vivian Maier Self Portrait Photographers Website
Vivian Maier’s photography was unfamiliar to the public before her death in 2009. She used photography as a way of distraction from her daily routine working as a nanny. Throughout all that time, she took more than 150,000 pictures. In the majority of them, she implemented interesting self portrait photography ideas. Vivian’s portraiture featured herself in mirror or window reflections as she was observing life in Chicago from the side. Looking at her shots, you see the way Vivian wanted to be represented rather than her actual image in real life.
11. Man Ray Self Portrait Photographers
Aside from being an artist in the surrealism and dadaism genre, Man Ray also belongs to the list of renowned self portrait photographers. Man Ray’s picture, Self-Portrait with Camera, features him holding the camera, which puts emphasis on his calling. It resembles famous artists who painted themselves with brushes in hand in self-portraits. During his life, Man Ray continued experimenting with self-portraiture by wearing different costumes. He tried on female garments, turbans and what not in order to convey the diversity of his personality in shots.
12. Robert Mapplethorpe Self Portrait Photographers
Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography is characterized by controversy. His most recognized works are black and white pictures reflecting sexual energy. With his self-portraiture, Robert expressed the desire to promote his “amazing” image and portrayed the complexity of his character sides.
Photo by Robert Mapplethorpe
13. Claude Cahun Self Portrait Photographers
In the 1920s, Claude Cahun, a photographer from France, created a gorgeous collection of self-portraits. There, she appeared as an angel, skinhead, vampire, etc. Being one of the most talented self portraits photographers of the 20th century, Claude was also a great writer. In her texts, she considered herself agender although she used an extensive number of female pronouns. Collaborating with her companion Marcel Moore, Claude explored the problems of self-identification and ruining gender roles in her self-portraiture.
14. Andy Warhol Self Portrait Photographers
Not everyone knows that Andy Warhol belongs to the list of prominent self portrait photographers. He was a fan of shooting with Polaroids since it was a quick and simple process. Warhol took a considerable number of self-portraits that afterwards became a part of silkscreens. A frequent topic of his self-portraiture is drag. Warhol adored pretending and role-playing. He loved capturing himself wearing various wigs.
15. Richard Avedon Self Portrait
This legendary portrait and fashion photographer also managed to make it into self portrait photography history. Looking at his 1960s self-portraiture, you see a young, aspiring photographer working at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. After some time, Avedon took more mature shots of himself. His peculiar style is characterized by shooting close-ups of celebrities so that they are relaxed, not expecting to be captured. It is curious to see how Avedon uses this approach when taking self-portraits.
Useful Photography Tips
Almost all platforms need to use an avatar so your friends can recognize you. Unfortunately, many users use self photographs of a rather low quality that are not original and even look ridiculous. I have selected some tips for you from experienced self portrait photographers and we hope they will help you take amazing shots.
Try Autofocus Feature
If you are a self portrait photographer, then using autofocus mode can be a good thing for you. It saves time and allows you to get decent photos. However, I recommend applying manual focus if the foreground is full of different objects. Modern cameras have an AF feature that you can turn on using the remote control or self-timer.
Be Careful with Depth of Field
Consider small changes in depth of field. Successful self portraiture photographers note that using an aperture of around f/10 is the best decision. This allows you to maintain a good focus on your face, even if the distance between you and the camera changes slightly.
Choose a Low F-Stop
If you do not need to focus on the background, then set a low f-stop. As a result, you stand out from the background due to the shallow depth of field. If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or the iPhone 7 Plus, you can use Portrait mode and get the same effect. Creating a slightly blurred background is possible through the use of two lenses during shooting.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Artificial Light
Natural light certainly has its advantages, so in most cases, I use it. However, do not be afraid to experiment with artificial lighting. Benefit from flashlights, lamps and even your smartphone.
Portrait Pro Lightroom Presets
Use this professional portrait photography Lightroom preset collection for making your portraits pop and beautiful in several clicks. Fast and professional color correction is guaranteed.
Set the Right ISO
To get the highest quality image, use an ISO with a value from 100 to 400. Be careful and do not forget to set the correct shutter speed. The lack of noise in the picture will not be so important if the image is blurred because of the camera or subject’s movement.
First, set ISO 400 on your camera and take a few pictures. Increase the value if you shoot in low light or shade. If shooting conditions require a higher ISO, don't be afraid to experiment. For some creative images, you may even need ISO 1600. Remember, to get more light, you can also open up an aperture.
Portraits: Making the Shot
I recommend you get acquainted with this book, as it is aimed at revealing the features of shooting a classic portrait, which is perfect in the case of self portraits, too.
Take a Tripod with You
To avoid various risks, use a tripod during shooting. When choosing a tripod, give preference to durable, but at the same time, flexible models. You can place your camera in the most incredible places and try a wide variety of angles, poses and compositions.
JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom
This tripod is lightweight and durable. It allows you to take incredibly clear pictures while keeping your camera securely fixed. The tripod has wrapped legs and rubberized foot grips. You can put a camera weighing up to 6.6lbs on it.
Share Your Photos via Built-in Wi-Fi
Self portrait photographers appreciate the built-in Wi-Fi in modern cameras. Thanks to this feature, you can instantly transfer pictures to a tablet or phone and view them in real time. Thus, you do not need to come up to the camera to check your results. You can also download a special application that allows you to control the camera remotely.
Play with Colors to Improve the Mood
Self portrait photography artists recommend using color gels (special filters) to give your pictures a more eclectic look. You place them in front of off-camera flashes or strobes. Gels resemble colored cellophane but they provide more rich colors. To achieve the futuristic effect, you can mix blue and red gels on the dark background.
Profoto OCF Color Gel Starter Kit
This pack is great for the B1 or B2 flash system. The kit consists of two nozzles and a gel holder, a bag, and a gel wallet. All this will help you better control the shooting and make your self portrait photography gallery brighter and more interesting.
Don’t Pose Too Much
Natural photos are always more interesting and attractive than staged ones. Capture some moments when you are on the go. For example, you can dance, jump, run, speak to someone and the like.
How to Create Realistic Studio Composites
Realism is a very important aspect of any type of photography, including self-photographs. This tutorial will help you achieve this natural effect even within an art studio environment.
Don’t Be Too Perfect
Do not get rid of the pictures that you think are unsuccessful. Self portrait photographers advise deleting only blurry images. After some time, you can review all the pictures and evaluate them with a fresh look.
A self portrait doesn’t limit you and in most cases, it’s cool. But sometimes coming up with a new idea becomes quite difficult and it makes you feel unmotivated. Well, here are 10 creative photography ideas for self portraits which will help wake your imagination up.
- View more self portrait ideas to inspire you for the next unusual photoshoot to make your followers shocked at how this photo was taken.
One of the creative portrait photography ideas is adding rainbow elements to your images. To create it, you can buy a special prism or use a CD and flashlight.
Capture Your Silhouette
If you do not want to show your face or want to give your portrait a bit of mystery, then take a picture of your silhouette. A female photographer self portrait is incredibly intriguing thanks to the use of a shallow depth of field.
Use Double Exposures for Silhouettes
This type of photograph is perfectly combined with the Double Exposure effect. To take a wonderful image, create dark outlines on a bright background.
Put on Wigs and Costumes
Become a completely different person using a variety of props like costumes, wigs, sunglasses and etc.
Pay Attention to Details
According to famous self portrait photographers, images of various parts of the body are no less popular than traditional face shots. Capture the hands holding any object or foot wearing unusual shoes.
Take Photographs through Objects
Do you have a desire to experiment and get a creative selfie? Then cover part of the lens and you will get amazing results!
The most valuable thing about this self portrait photography idea is that it is possible to shoot everywhere. You don't need any special preparation either.
Photograph Your Pet
If you have a pet, why should you miss a chance to take great photos? Pictures with your cute dogs or cats look natural and create a special home atmosphere.
Play with Shadows
When you shoot with one light source, try to use various props like sun hats, umbrellas, curtains, etc. They will help add life to lots of your cool self portrait ideas. Experiment with shadows of different depths and lengths and your portraits will acquire a new look.
Make a Diptych of Two Images
Some self portrait photographers use this method to create a kind of “collage” that includes only two pictures. Take two pictures that depict you in the midst of the usual things for you. Then combine them in one photo and get a cool self-portrait.
Self Portrait Photography Freebies
To speed up your picture editing process, I recommend you to use some of our free Photoshop actions, overlays and Lightroom presets to make your work easier and faster.
1. PS Action "Bright Eyes"
With the help of this tool, your eyes will look more vivid and the color of your iris will be deeper and brighter. I am sure that the result won't disappoint you!
2. PS Action "Cleaning Eyes"
Do you look tired in photos and your eyes betray you? One of our tools is ready to help you get rid of this problem. Free yourself from visible red blood vessels or other unnecessary veins on your eyes, at least in images.
3. PS Action "Classic"
If you are not satisfied with the color of your teeth and you want them to look better, you can make use of this action. It will make your teeth whiter and brighter, but at the same time your smile will look realistic.
4. PS Action "Hollywood Smile"
Have you always dreamed about a Hollywood smile? Now it is possible with the Photoshop teeth whitening action. You can make your teeth as white as you want. After applying this action, you will get an incredibly beautiful smile.
5. LR Preset "Nature"
Use this preset to give a photo some warmth and calmness. Such an effect is achieved by raising the contrast between highlights and shadows. It might totally change the general impression of your picture.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger,