BeachHouse: The Art of Self-Portrait Photography / by jill tranquilla

Everyone starts their photography journey differently. Some people are into shooting landscapes, some portraits. For me, I started my journey with photography mostly because of a website called www.lookbook.nu and some pretty exceptional creatives that showcased their work on websites such as nexopia, tumblr, and flickr. 

In high school, I had a friend invite me into an exclusive online community where people posted portraits of their outfits through modeling. At the time, camera phones were just on the rise and I was still snapping blurry selfies with my first ever Canon Rebel, T1i. I grew up under the concept that taking selfies was the ultimate manifestation of vanity and narcissism, a lesson passed down to me through my parents (love you both lol). This led my rebellion of sneakily taking self-timed images every day after school for a period of 125 days (the goal was to complete a full 365 day Self Portrait project). The photos were tragic, and my outfits were worse. But ultimately, it was self-portraiture that pushed me to learn how to technically use a camera. Those skills have translated seamlessly into all aspects of my creative world (video, photo projects, .gif work, design, etc).

If you are jumping into the world of self-portrait photography and amateur-modeling right now, you will have it a bit easier. Taking self-portraits with a prosumer camera is simpler than ever with features like Facial Recognition and easier access to camera remotes. But still, with budget constraints, some people are doing the traditional trick of setting up your camera, marking the correct position in the sand, and running from tripod to position over and over again while trying to model to get that one shot. I have done this all too many times, including one time in -31°C weather, for an art project. I. Died.

There are some optimal settings for making sure you catch focus and aren't wasting your time figuring out how to stay easily within the small range of focus that comes with shooting an image with an F-stop lower than 5. The depth of field range of safety in my opinion which still is flattering without making your background all completely in focus is between 8-11 in my personal opinion. If shooting with natural lighting, or you can keep the ISO still quite low at these settings.

With the rise of Influencers on Instagram, and having a posting schedule - there are times where you will need to learn how to take your own portraits if you are the face of your personal image. For those of us who are single/do not have access to someone to help us with taking our photos - becoming a double threat is necessary (and very fun/daunting). I guess one of the biggest obstacles I've had to face with getting the 'dream shot' has been taking images in public with just a tripod and me. In these cases, confidence places a massive part - and also facing the stigma of taking your own photos in public with the possibility of being judged by strangers. You will find, that many people will offer to take a photo of you to save you the embarrassment of making an obstacle of yourself. Stay true to your vision, and challenge yourself to be confident with your choice of going against the grain! This will teach you so much about how to navigate awkward social situations as well give you the ability to work on your patience in getting the right shot.

This past summer I took a road trip with a friend up to Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Unfortunately, my friend had to leave because of a family emergency and I was left with a week to explore the beaches just with myself and a Fuji Mirrorless camera. I took the time to take some photos of the place that I grew up as well as jump into what I could do in self-portraiture, once more. I genuinely love modelling and being in front of the camera as much as I love being behind the lens. The thing I love the most though about modelling for yourself is the confidence that comes from learning about your personal external self. There have been many times in my life where I've dealt with a desire to look or embody someone else - but when you learn your angles and what works for you (along with learning to love yourself inwardly) - it's truly life-changing. The camera is a huge reason why I have been able to walk into external confidence - it all comes down to self-acceptance, but that's a story for another day. 
 
Here is a collection of photos from my time at Victoria Beach. The photos with myself in the water are not taken via self-timer but were directed and taken by the help of my friend, Sasha. The images in the portrait style photos though are all taken with self time and a facial recognition feature, allowing me to have the luxury of playing with the apeture more freely. If you look close enough you can catch a portrait where I left my fly undone by accident! And that is truly the benefit of being a one person wonder (missing the simple things).

Here are the remaining images from my vacation! Thanks for reading my post and I hoped I can shine some light on a the taboo hobby of polished selfies.
- J.

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