Photography projects come in all shapes and sizes, some are easy, and others require a lot more work than you anticipate on the outset. The toughest photo project I have done to date is a self-portrait, I have attempted this project three times, the first did not yield results that were worth showing publicly. rather I consider the first attempt more of a technique refining session. I learned a lot – especially how to get back into the proper position between shots. Lighting with a self-portrait can be as simple as setting up a couple of strobes in softboxes, get into position and fire a few frames with flat frontal lighting. Where things get interesting is when you try and do any light modeling – especially with a single strobe. Think about it – when you are shooting a portrait, you are behind the camera and your subject is remaining in the same general area, it is easy to snap a frame and move the lights as needed, but when you are running back and forth to the camera things get tough. Remote triggers and live view on your cell phone can make things much easier, but for this attempt I chose not to use anything but the camera’s self-timer.
To increase the difficulty factor, I used a single 20-degree gridded overhead strobe. The strobe is a Flashpoint eVOLV200 (Godox AD200 equivalent) and the Godox AD-S3 beauty dish with grid. For support I used the Flashpoint 10’ C Stand – yes complete overkill for weight, but I like the grip arm and the security of knowing the stand is going to be stable with any size light. This particular stand is my go-to for anything I do in the home studio.
The tricky part here is getting the right angle especially with the focused beam of light that the grid produces. I specifically didn’t want a hair light or anything separating me from the background – I wanted to fade into darkness. I had the strobe directly overhead so the light would be as soft as possible, but as punchy as possible since it was coming from a beauty dish, which is an inherently contrasty light source.
Choosing a photo I like (or that I am willing to show publicly) of myself was the hardest part of this. I tend to be critical of the lighting and pose. I don’t think I would consider this my final self-portrait for this method, rather a good direction toward a final image. I will revisit this again applying what I have learned from the two previous attempts.
For post processing, I used the NIK Collection Silver EFX Pro preset I created for my Landscapes of the Body collection with a little tuning in the midrange detail section.
I challenge all my readers to attempt a self-portrait – you will learn a lot and make lots of images you hate. Below is the list of gear I used to make this image and as always, drop me an email if you have any questions.
Flashpoint 10′ C (Century) Light Stand on Turtle Base Kit w/40″ Grip Arm & 2 Gobo Heads and Baby Pin – Chrome
Flashpoint eVOLV 200 TTL Pocket Flash with Barndoor Kit Built-in R2 2.4GHz Radio Remote System (Godox AD200)
Godox AD-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector with Honeycomb Cover for Godox AD200