In need of updated headshots? Looking for a new at-home creative project? Here's how to get professional-looking self-portraits with only a camera, a window, and a mobile device for equipment!
Getting a great self -portrait from home doesn't have to be hard.
What you need
Here are some recommendations for equipment if you want to capture a great self-portrait at home.
I strongly suggest using RAW format files. It will provide the best quality image and will give you maximum latitude in post-production. If you're not familiar or can't use RAW files for some reason, high-quality JPEGs (called "Fine JPEG") also work very well.
2. Mobile device
Nowadays, every camera brand has its own "remote app." If your camera has a built-in WiFi, you'll be able to use your cellphone or tablet to control the shutter, aperture, ISO, and other basic settings.
Here are the links to many free apps:
- Canon: Camera Connect
- Fujifilm: Camera Remote
- Nikon: Wireless Mobile Utility
- Olympus: Olympus Image Share
- Panasonic: Lumix Sync
- Sony: Imaging Edge
3. Light source
A natural light source such as a window or a patio door is all you need. If you own flashes or other light sources, you can absolutely incorporate them as well. White cardboard can be used as a reflector if needed.
4. Something to put your camera on
A tripod is the safest solution. If you don't own one, a chair, a table, or a pile (sturdy) of books also does the trick.
Find an angle that offers a clean, uncluttered background. A wall is often the simplest and most straightforward option. (The goal is to NOT make it obvious these portraits were taken at home!)
Lenses and settings
Unless you've got huge, uncluttered walls or want to have head to toe portraits, I recommend using a standard lens (like a 50mm) over a wide-angle lens (like a 24mm). This will help to get tight headshots and avoid getting too much of the background in the frame.
Here are three different setup examples - all taken in the same room with a unique light source.
Example: Setup One
This shot (along with the cover image) is taken straight in front of my patio door. My camera is mounted on a tripod at my eye's height, facing the inside of the room.
Facing the light source (the patio door) creates a uniform and flattering light across the face. Even though I am not back to a wall, I am far enough from the background, so it becomes blurry and unrecognizable. (Yep, that's my fridge on the left!)
Example: Setup Two
My camera is facing a white background (which, in fact, is a wardrobe door). I stand a few feet away from it.
This time, the light source (my patio door) is coming from the left. I moved my camera angle, but I am still facing the light source. It becomes a profile picture with a new background.
Example: Setup Three
I have a narrow turquoise colored wall in the back of the room. I placed my camera right in front of it (making sure the wall filled the whole frame.
The light source is now further away, and I am literally stuck to the wall. This is a way to create a shadow behind yourself. If you like it, place yourself near a wall as I did. If you don't, make sure you stay a few feet away.
Once you've got your beautiful new portraits, it's time to give them some love in post-production. Stylizing is really what makes them look professional and unique. Create a mood, enhance your favorite features, play around. A portrait taken in the living room doesn't have to look like "a portrait taken in the living room"! Make it a dramatic black and white or funky and colorful! With all the AI tools available in Luminar 4, discovering and creating your own editing style is easier than ever.
Give it a try!
No matter how big or small of a space you have available at home, you CAN create professional self-portraits. All you need is a camera, a window, a computer and… to be kind to yourself!