Self Portrait Challenge #3: MOOD

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Today is the Third part of dPS's Self Portrait Challenge – learn more about what it is, how you can be involved and how you can get a free gift here.

For our last two self-portrait challenges, we asked you to incorporate props, and to experiment with lighting.

Now, it is time to put everything together and go for something a little bit more abstract. This time, we will focus on “Mood” as your challenge, which will be much easier than you might initially think, especially now that you have taken a couple of self-portraits already, and are becoming more comfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera.

The camera seen here was given to me by a good friend, and it belonged to her grandfather. From the moment I held it, it became extremely important to me, so I knew it would work great in a self-portrait to convey a sense of happiness and love.

There are many factors that can affect the mood of a photo, and we have already covered two of those factors with props and lighting. Both of these elements lend themselves greatly to the mood of a photo, but here are some more elements that affect the mood of a photo: focus, posing, location, and post-processing, to name a few.

For this challenge, your possibilities are endless. Whether you want to convey love, loss, happiness, obstacles, inspiration or frustration, the platform is yours! Most self-portrait photographers will tell you, though, that if the emotion is genuine and coming from personal experience, you really can’t go wrong!

First of all, be sure to consider how black and white versus color, as well as the point of view of your camera can affect mood. There are definitely some photos that work better in color than others, but black and white has a tendency to lend itself more to setting a mood because monotone helps narrow down the focus of the photo to guide the viewer into seeing the most crucial elements. By the same token, the position of the camera is also very important. With the camera at eye level, the subject seems equal with the camera, possessing a feeling of strength. Having the camera positioned above you can be very dramatic and visually appealing, and this angle also tends to be very flattering. On the other hand, if the camera is positioned below you (not always the most flattering angle, but it can still work for some shots), you will appear taller, and possibly more imposing within the frame.

There are various ways you can really play up the mood of your self-portraits. We are not all actors and actresses, so it can be tough to just sit in front of the camera and successfully project a certain mood, but we can actually learn a lot from actors when it comes to self-portraiture. A renowned acting teacher by the name of Stanislavski invented a type of acting called “Method” acting which has the actor focus their attention on an object or an event that has occurred in their life, something very personal. After focusing their emotions on this particular event, the actor then performs a scene after they have focused their minds on this event or object. The same can be done with self-portraiture.

Maybe you have an object, or a specific location that strikes a chord with you. Try holding the object, or going to the location, and once your have your shot set up, take as many photos of yourself as you can while you focus the majority of your attention on the object or your surroundings. If your camera can be set to take a certain number of shots in 10 second intervals, try using this feature. The goal for this exercise is to stop thinking about the camera so much, and just concentrate on a certain emotion. Through your experiments with props and lighting, you have begun to develop an idea of what works best for you in taking self-portraits, so now is your chance to work more on an intuitive level. And, while photography is often about the technical, there is also a very large part of photography that is based on intuition.

I love local history, and tend to gravitate towards historic buildings in my area. Historic buildings can make for great locations, especially if they have a lot of character, which will really enhance the mood of your photo.

Another technique that might help you to convey a particular mood is to take inspiration from a song or a specific lyric that really speaks to you. I know a few photographers who have created beautiful projects based on self-portraits inspired by music. We are all inspired by music, and if there is a piece of music you really enjoy, whether it is rock, classical, bluegrass or pop, try creating a self-portrait that somehow ties into the music or lyrics. You could even play the song that has inspired your idea while you take your self-portraits.

With this challenge especially, you now have the chance to show us who you are, which is the heart of self-portraiture. Always keep in mind that, while self-portraiture is great practice in all of the elements that can be applied to your portrait work, it is also a chance to express yourself, and to share that self-expression with others. So, have fun with this challenge, and enjoy the experience, which can be very freeing!

Show us your Mood Self Portrait

Once you've taken your ‘Mood' Self Portrait Photos – choose your best one and upload it to your favourite photo sharing site and either share a link to it in comments below. Alternatively – embed the image in comment below using the our embed tool.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites with Tagging tag them as #DPSMOOD to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you're doing so that they can share in the fun.

NOTE: as we've had 3 ‘challenges' this week – todays will also be our ‘weekly challenge'.

Post from: Digital Photography School – Photography Tips. Check out our resources on Portrait Photography Tips, Travel Photography Tips and Understanding Digital Cameras.

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Self Portrait Challenge #3: MOOD


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