As well as showing and talking about her own work Natalie introduces the reader to eight other photographers, two of which I’d also got to know of through Flickr – Yulia Gorodinski and Lucia Holm. Each of the photographers picked has their own unique style and tells the reader how they got into photography, what inspires them and how they took some of the shots shown.
Broken down into six chapters the book covers:
One – Context & History
Two – Equipment
Three – Shooting
Four – Processing
Five – Self-portrait artist showcase
Six – Marketing your self-portraits
The history of self-portraits was a great insight into why some of the old masters like Van Gogh and Rembrandt painted images of themselves.
The equipment chapter talks about some of the things you’ll ideally want in order to shoot self portraits with ease. It assumes no prior experience in the reader and emphasises that it’s what you do with the camera that counts not which camera or flashy gadgets you have.
Shooting covers such things as hair, makeup, clothing, props, lighting and locations – all ingredients that will have an impact on the final image. Natalie stresses the point that you should work with what you have to hand. Not everyone has stunning rolling landscapes or beaches to hand. Great self-portraits can be made in the comfort of your own home, or the room of a friend or family member. Family holidays or work trips that take you away from your normal environment can be used to add variety to your work.
Processing inevitably covers some of the basics of using Photoshop, the industry standard for image editing. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t at least a page on GIMP, a free alternative that does fine for those starting out with a limited budget. A lot of the photographers featured in the book stress how image processing should be secondary to setting up and shooting a good base image. It’s important to not look at software like Photoshop as a mean of making a bad image good.
Marketing your self-portraits covers some of the pitfalls to avoid when it comes to getting your work out there and on people’s walls.
All in all good read that’s inspired me to get in front of the lens again.