Self portraits for the camera shy, introverts or anyone who thinks they have a face for radio
There’s a firm trend on Instagram right now for magical self portraiture. You may have seen it. People are magically levitating or have wings made from leaves. Beautiful grammers catching clouds in whimisical fields. Gorgeous.
A lot of this imagery requires good photography skills, Photoshop ability, a descent chunk of time to set up or an assistant/long suffering husband or partner to help.
As it is in my case, my actual body and face don’t reflect that in my head I’m still 25. Instead they keep reminding me I’m in my 40’s. Therefore I find it uncomfortable posting images on my feed of myself because I feel somewhat aesthetically challenged.
I have tried my hand at creative self portraits.
But quite frankly I am a little camera shy.
Reflecting Our Personality on Instagram
How can we create an Instagram feed that reflects our personality without having to rely on showing our faces? Or overly complicated photoshopping or photography techniques. Creative self portraits with originality?
I’ve scoured Instagram and looked to some of my favourite creative grammers and photographers. Here’s 9 ideas to make creative self portraits full of personality.
9 Ways to Create Images with Personality for Instagram
Idea 1: Start with your feet
That’s right. Go to the opposite end of your body and start with your feet. Preferably with shoes on.
Note: unless you have beautiful feet, keep your shoes firmly on. Ugly feet are a definite no-no.
There’s something so friendly and approachable about feet photos.
Your choice of shoe and background can communicate your mood easily.
Colourful trainers - fun
Slippers or socks - relaxed
High heels - classy/sophisticated
Boots - down to earth.
Idea 2: Get Hand-y
From telling someone it’s OK, that you love them or horribly offend them, our hands are among the most expressive parts of the human anatomy. We can love or insult in one simple hand gesture.
Italians have even made an art-form of talking with them. Watch a conversation between two continentals especially. It’s wonderful how expressive they are with their hands!
Hands are one of my favourite ways of bringing personality into the feed. They illustrate action.
If you are a maker or artist, show your hands working on your latest creation
The hand cradling a coffee illustrates a more relaxed mood. It’s an Instagram cliche, but for good reason!
Paint your hands to illustrate your creative side
Use hand gestures to raise awareness of an important issue
Idea 3: Cut Your Head Off/Alternative Angles
If you’re looking for a simple photography technique, use an alternative angle. Or cut your head off!
Photographing part of your body still adds personality without having to show your face.
Use a prop to cover your face entirely (more on this in idea 6)
Wear clothes in your images that reflect your mood or message
Choose a location or background that also reflects the message you are trying to convey
Idea 4: Get Crafty
Of course you don’t have to show yourself at all. Demonstrate your creative and crafty side by using objects around your home or from your craft supplies, to create a self portrait.
Have fun with googly eyes, fake eye lashes and sunglasses. This is a very fun way to craft personality into your feed. You’ll also be creating a piece of art in the process.
Idea 5: Face Paint
Raid the kids face painting box. Face painting allows freedom of creativity and to show another side of your personality. You’ll be hiding behind the paint, which can also hide those annoying blemishes too.
If painting your face still feels like a little too much, try just painting part of your body: perhaps your hands, arms or legs.
Idea 6: Behind the Prop
As already mentioned in idea 3, standing behind a prop is very popular on Instagram and easily done. Use everyday objects from around the house such as flowers or pretty cushions. Perhaps draw a face on paper. Use your imagination and get creative!
You could also try forced perspective - this is where you stand in the background and you place an object in the foregound which becomes part of your outfit. There’s loads of this technique on the #objectsforoutfits hashtag.
For the really camera shy, you can create a lovely effect by blurring out the background (you) and focusing on the foreground (the object)
If you’re using a mobile phone to take your photographs, tap the screen where you want to focus and your mobile will blur out the background. You could also use an app such as Snapseed to blur the background.
This creates a lovely ethereal effect.
Idea 7: Turn Your Back
Another very simple and popular technique on Instagram, for good reason, is to turn your back to the camera. Showing you, without showing you!
This is very easy to achieve. Your location and background will be important in this type of image to convey your mood and message.
Idea 8: Animate
Does the thought of animation scare you? Too advanced? It doesn’t have to be! Invest in a tripod and you’ll be laughing all the way to the post button on Instagram.
You can also bring still images to life using:
Flixel an app that creates cinemagraphs. You start with a video and select a certain area that will move. The rest of the image will be static. Check out @cinepix for examples of brilliant cinemagraphs
Plotagraph Pro - the easier of these two apps. You start with a still image and this clever app adds movement to it. Check out @theglitch.og for an example of an artist who has really mastered this technique
Idea 9: OK, so learn (just a Little) Photoshop
If you’re so inclined and you want to try some more creative techniques, then learn some Photoshop.
I know I know! At the beginning of this post I said you wouldn’t have to rely on Photoshop or overly complicated techniques.
However, once you’ve mastered some of the simpler ideas in this post, some of you may want to try the more advanced techniques that Photoshop allows you.
Photoshop is also particularly useful for getting rid of blemishes, changing lighting and changing background colours.
I would recommend mastering the basics of Photoshop, then learn the art of masking. That’s when you’ll be able to levitate and pick the clouds out of the sky!
A great learning resource I’d highly recommend is Phlearn. This website has loads of great tutorials on both Photography and Photoshop. There's loads of free resources and their paid subscription is really economical too.
There are also apps out there that can do some of this work for you. I only recommend learning Photoshop because you get total creative control over the edits on your images.
However, there are many apps available that can provide some of the tools you might find in Photoshop. Such as:
Snapseed (my favourite) - this pretty much has everything you need in an editing app
Cymera - for editing faces and making you look like a super model (well kind of ;) )
A Color Story - great for adjusting colour and really making your images pop
SKRWT - for straightening your images and adjusting any camera distortion
Pixr - has a fun double exposure effect if you want something with creative effects. There’s also a web app that can support Photoshop files
Have fun with your imagination
My aim in this post is to encourage you to try new techniques and have fun making creative self portraits. You really don’t have to show your face to communicate your personality on your Instagram feed.
Do share your creative self portrait images on Instagram and tag me @georgiestclair, so I can see what you have created. Let me know how you show your personality in your feed or some of your favourite Instagrammers who are successfully creating images with personality for Instagram.
Have an inspired day!