Document Your Life: 15 Ideas for Creative Self Portraits

This Site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

I wanted to share some ideas on how to get a little extra creative with those self portraits. It’s a fun activity to document your life, and important, too. I’m sharing tips with 15 ideas for Creative Self Portraits today. I believe in moms being in pictures. Sometimes we have to take matters into our own hands and set it up.

Creative Self Portrait Tips
What is the definition of a self portrait? Is it taking the picture of yourself, or simply being in a  picture by yourself?  I’ve understood that a self portrait is taken by you of you. Is that scary or intimidating? Awkward, maybe? It doesn’t have to be–it can be a fun, creative process to think of different ways to portray yourself in images over time.

Have you ever thought, “Why do I need to take a picture of myself?” I think to some it may appear vain or silly to take a picture of oneself, but I see it as an opportunity to be artistic, and document  YOU in your current surroundings, from your own perspective. Whether you use a tripod, table, or extend your arms, I’ve got some tips for creativity in self portraits. On my site, I’ve shared the importance of Capturing the JOY and being in pictures with your loved ones–not just taking pictures of them. I’ve extended the challenge to tag #capturethejoy when sharing on social media as well. I’d love more to play along!

For many photographers, those behind the camera don’t often want to be in front of the camera. However, the documentor needs to be documented just as much as his subjects. Today I’ll share some tips on taking creative self portraits: true, real, and RAW.


1. Document yourself in a vulnerable state–This is me first thing in the morning, in my messy bathroom. Can’t get any more real than this! Though it is quite embarrassing to share this image, I believe in the beauty of RAW vulnerability, which in this case shows me without makeup in an unkempt space. Because I am the one taking the picture, it shows that I’m willing to share myself with those viewing the image, as is.


messy bahtroom

2. Use props to express your personality–Pull in elements that you love whether it be a camera, ice cream, a hammer, or a car. Posing around an object that you love, shares with the image viewer more about you.

3. Self Timers rock–I love my self timer, I’ll find a stool or table to place my camera on, and run in the shot. It’s fun to jump or pull a face, and another opportunity to be creative instead of just standing and posing. Real life and action. Below, I bravely pulled out my phone, and used a self timer app to snag this pic at the end of my step workout class.

self portrait

4. Look up to the sky–If you are extending your arms to grab a face shot, always look up towards the sky for the best angle. Looking down produces chin rolls, which doesn’t look good on even the most slender person.

5. Don’t look at that camera–I actually prefer myself from a candid perspective. When I have my family portraits taken, I emphasize snapping the candid because it’s my favorite view of me…and of my family. So when I take pictures of myself, I prefer to look away. It does feel awkward though, I’ll admit it.

helping my son

6. Bring in a stuffed animal or something to focus on–Sometime I’ll have my child as a stand in, but they aren’t always around. If you want a clear shot, you’ll need something to focus on before you hit the button and run.

7. Set your camera to multiple shot–When running into a timed shot, don’t just take one, set your camera to take a few! This way, you can pull faces and act crazy in real motion, and pick  your favorite from the candids. You also don’t have to keep running back to take one shot at a time.

8. You don’t have to show your face–Take a picture of you, without the most recognizable part. Maybe you are wearing your favorite shoes or shirt, and want to document that.

kristen duke self portrait

9. Find a reflective object–Of course we all know mirrors reflect, but what about the oven door, the glass on the fireplace, an ornament or lid of a pot?

10. Creatively crop–Whether the camera tilted funny, or your cropped it that way, a unique cropping of an image draws the viewer in.

11. Don’t be happy–You don’t have to share a smile, show the anger or tears.

12. Use creative lighting–With a flashlight or laptop or phone, be creative with lighting.

phone at night

13. Write out words–Using a pen or chalk or marker, share words to your favorite song or poem or movie quote. Write it on your skin, a piece of paper, or chalkboard behind you.

14. Grab those you love–Self portraits don’t mean you have to be all alone. Include your children, your spouse, or a pet in the image you create of yourself.

by the pool

15. Look straight into the lens–I mentioned above that I prefer my profile and looking away. But the self portrait images close in, with the eyes fixed on the camera lens share a depth much different from the playful candid images.

Aim to not just capture you, but to tell a story…make memories.

For other Photography tips on my site, CLICK HERE. {Just go ahead and open a handful of tabs, I do it all the time!}  If you’d like to learn how to use your fancy camera and Say NO to Auto, check out my books.


Join The Discussion



  1. Oh, this is great. I will have to create a board for photography on my Pinterest page. Until then, I do have a file on my email for photography 🙂 🙂 🙂 These are some great ideas 😉 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Love your article!! I really need to get in the photos more! I love your tips!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes you do need to get in photos more!!! Just because you “grew up” doesn’t mean you don’t need to be in pics!!

  3. Fun & funny, great ideas! I was trying to take some self portraits, with my dog outside about a month ago. I used the timer but didn’t know about setting it up for multiple shots, so I ran back & forth! Talk about confusing the dog! I tried using her to setup focus, that didn’t work very well either. She’d sit but lay down by the time I got to the camera to try to focus. When I came running back to plop down on the ground, as calmly as possible to not scare her off, she’d flop over on her side to play or for me to rub her. The most in focus & shot I liked most of myself shows her at arms length away, looking alittle miffed, in the middle of getting up to walk away (enough of this!). It’s a very awkward pose look for the dog, but with cropping I had what I wanted to update my profiles for social networks, albeit without her in it. 🙁 It was quite the exercise, in more than one way. 🙂 I definitely need to play more with my camera. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Oh, that is TOO funny! Yes, it takes practice, and it would be tough if the dog moves, but it’s a great story, keep the images around for humors sake!

  4. ooo moms in pictures… I take SO many… I feel like I have to specifically ask my husband, “can you please take a photo of me doing this, or this, or that…” AHHH I just want him to pick up the camera and take the spontaneous photos like I do with him and the kids :O)

  5. Shannon Kopp says:

    I have been reading your contributions to NYIP and I have been thinking of taking their online courses. But I have also heard about Photography institute. Can you give me your thoughts on either program and if you feel someone can gain some good experience? Thanks in advance.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Shannon! I wish I had more experience with either,but I don’t. Send me an email and tell me what looks like the differences and I’ll let you know my thoughts.

  6. Great ideas! I rarely have pics of myself since I am usually behind the camera! Thanks for the fun inspiration!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wonderful tips!! Loved the article and I’m so excited to use some of your pointers in the upcoming weeks! =)

  8. Such great tips…love the one of you first thing in the morning. {And that’s exactly how my bathroom looks, too}!

  9. Thanks for all the great tips! Pinned to my photography board!

  10. I really do need to get on the other side of my camera more! Love all those fun tips!!!

  11. This is so awesome! 🙂 I’m never in our family pictures. I need to work on that. Thanks for the tips. 🙂

  12. Thanks so much for such a fabulous tutorial and ideas. Thanks for linking up to Tickled Pink Times Two! We love having you there.
    Make it a pink day.