One of my goals this year is to do a monthly personal photoshoot as a way to:
- get outside my comfort zone;
- practice taking portraits (particularly trying out posing techniques to understand better what works in front of the camera, so I can give instruction from behind the camera);
- try out new techniques, styles, and edits;
- and get a little more comfortable in my own skin.
Valentine’s was an obvious theme for February, especially since one day, in addition to fantasy portraiture, I’d like to specialize in body-empowerment boudoir photography. Almost all of my portraits and group photos have been situated outside, so February provided another new challenge. Indoor lighting is a whole different beast that I’m not very good at yet. I need a lot of practice!
For this shoot, I decided to step mostly away from any fantasy elements and stick with a more traditional-but-relatively-conservative boudoir-type outfit. Skin, but not too much skin. It started out difficult and uncomfortable. There was a lot of “fake it til you make it” mentality. Because I was doing this completely alone and because I don’t use any autofocus tools, there was a lot of equipment setup followed by trial and error. I had my viewfinder turned toward me so that I could (generally) see myself, and I felt self-conscious and silly a lot of the time. I guess that’s no different from last month with people staring at me in my ren-faire getup on the street, just a different type of self-consciousness!
But honestly, after several hours of work – because my goodness, it’s a LOT of work to position yourself, take shots, review shots, re-configure, get back into position, repeat as many times as necessary – I was too tired to feel any kind of self-consciousness any longer. Posing became more natural. I started having fun with it, and by the end, I actually started to feel beautiful and sexy and empowered, which is not something I expected!!
I took far more photos in this shoot than in any I’ve done in the past, mostly because so many ended up at just the wrong focus (I really need to do some experimenting with autofocus for self-portraits!), and afterwards whittled that down to less than a 10th of where I started (67 out of ~750!). By the time I finished edits, I had a solid 34 photos from this shoot, a dozen of which rose as best of the best. I do wish several had been in better focus, just slightly soft as I dealt with shallow depth of field, but at least the softness lent itself to the month’s theme.
I also got this photo, which I’ve wanted to take ever since reading that quote in Good for a Girl: “Women face immense pressure to experience pregnancy like leave-no-trace camping, with the goal being zero evidence on the body that it occurred at all.” My sunset belly no longer fills me with loathing every time I see it, and I’m glad that I could get a beautiful photo of it during this shoot.
As my wife is a photographer, I did a lot of posing. For me it was always hard work. Of course, with two people, one behind and one in front of the camera, it’s much easier. In the beginning I always found the pictures not acceptable because I found myself not ‘beautiful’ enough. But that changed as longer I was my wife’s model. It helped quite a bit when I was a regular guest in TV talk shows. And I have to admit I liked being in front of the camera after a while.
Good luck with you self portraits
My spouse won’t do any modeling for me, heh. He comes along to my outdoor personal shoots so I can use him as a stand-in for focus, because I was taught to do everything manually. I know I need to start experimenting and trusting the autofocus in some situations – especially when I’m shooting a moving target – but I’ve just gotten so comfortable with the controls that I forget. Heh. Anyway, he’s great for helping me get my focus exact and also makes me feel comfortable walking away from my gear to get in position out on the street when that’s necessary. So it’s a good partnership even if he won’t model. 😀
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I love modelling. It was my job as professor to stand in front of many people, as an author to appear in talk shows and give filmed interviews. But in the beginning I got some coaching from a friend of mine, who is quite a successful actor. Nowadays I am retired and I do quite often modelling for my wife. I don’t mind, actually I find it erotic.
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