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Planning a self-portrait photo shoot

From: The Creative Spark: Lauren Lemon, Creative Portrait Photographer

Video: Planning a self-portrait photo shoot

Once I come up with an idea for a shoot, I pretty much start brainstorming all the possible props and wardrobe that I need. That's part of how I come up with an idea is I've already kind of got a list of exactly how I want to look and so I just need to visualize it within the photo. So if I can, I like to be able to go to the location and maybe snap some scout photos. If it's a place I can't look at before the shoot, then I'll look up online or something to get a kind a visualization of the space that I'll be using.

Planning a self-portrait photo shoot

Once I come up with an idea for a shoot, I pretty much start brainstorming all the possible props and wardrobe that I need. That's part of how I come up with an idea is I've already kind of got a list of exactly how I want to look and so I just need to visualize it within the photo. So if I can, I like to be able to go to the location and maybe snap some scout photos. If it's a place I can't look at before the shoot, then I'll look up online or something to get a kind a visualization of the space that I'll be using.

And then from there, I'll either do little sketches, in my journal or be able to print them out and kind of actually write down where subject will be, where props will be, where I'll potentially be putting lights. So that way when I show up to actually shoot, I have like a map of where to begin, basically. So, right now I've kind of got a location for this self-portrait in front of this big window. It's very pretty. It's got good light. And I'm thinking the shoot can go either, can go two ways.

It can be really light and airy or kind of dark and moody, and that's actually something I might kind of play with once I get there. Figure out how-- what works best for lighting and everything. And mostly what I do is try and tell a story within one photo, or kind of create something that the viewer may wonder what's going on outside of the frame or what's going to happen next, or maybe what just happened. So, kind of always alluding to something that's maybe not exactly pictured, but still all captured within one frame.

And this way I like to be able to figure out how I am going to light things before I go on to this situation. For the self-portrait, I do want daylight kind of happening through, so I do know that I want to shoot that first when I get kind of this good dappled light on the trees. And I'll probably just kind of want it to be more simple and more about the environment. What I'll probably do more in this scene is remove elements that are already in the room and keep it very simple, so maybe move the couch out and maybe move a chair around and definitely the coffee table, but then bring maybe some flowers to kind of dress the scene, kind of bring in--something to bring the attention here without having too many extra elements.

So, for this I've just kind of-- I need to keep an eye out for, like a nice light-colored dress, or I was thinking even like a nightgown because I am going to try and see if I can shoot by--during the day by--create a reflection on the window. So I want to try and light it so that I am lit from the front, facing the window, and then there is a slight reflection of maybe my face or the binoculars that I'm holding, reflected onto the window that you can see from camera.

And I say I want to try because I've never really lit something like this. And a lot of times I'll use my self-portraits as tests for ideas that I have, that may or may not work out. So, I know I'm not going to get frustrated or annoyed if I am sitting there and lighting isn't working out. And part of the reason it's fun to do self-portraits is be able to kind of push to yourself and try things that you wouldn't necessarily have the patience for otherwise.

If I try and get like a reflection, I'll be stoked, but if not, then I think I'll still be able to make something that I'll be happy to show.

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