The Basics of Self-Portraits

by ARTiClass

One of the most intriguing things is the observation of our fellow humans. Artists since the beginning of time have sought to capture the uniqueness and individuality of the human spirit and personality in portraiture. Many artists have expanded this inspection to themselves and delved into creating a self-portrait, whether through sketching or even self portrait photography. 

The list of self-portrait ideas is as vast as the people desiring to create such a self-portrait project. You could explore creating a self-portrait painting and the many self-portrait painting ideas that are present in the art world, both historical or modern. Perhaps you are more interested in sketching, wondering how to get the perfect angles and shading with lead or ink. 

Maybe this isn’t you at all, and you tend to gravitate towards photographic images. It’s never been easier to capture self-portraiture with a camera than now, as even cell phones come with cameras and apps for photo editing. With ARTiClass and our array of online courses and fabulous faculty, we can help you capture the perfect creative image of yourself with our one-day workshop, “Photographed Self Portrait: The Artistic Selfie.”

So, what is a self-portrait and what are the steps to creating one? Today, we will tell you. Traditionally, self-portraits are depictions an artist creates of themselves using various art media, including drawings, painting, sculpture, and even photography. This trend of creating self-portraits dates back to the 1600s during the early Renaissance, which also coincides with better mirrors being available to many. 

Obviously, creating an artful likeness of one’s self has been something many an artist has been obsessed with for centuries. Now it can be your turn to come up with some fun “selfie” portrait ideas. Grab your camera and apply these tips to create a beautiful likeness captured in time.


In order to create a beautiful self-portrait project, you will want to make sure that your self-portrait camera is at a flattering angle. Typically, you will want to avoid having to look down. A slight upward angle provides a lengthening and slimming look. Also, take a risk and try shooting your self-portrait off center or with the camera tilted. This can provide interest and uniqueness to the shot and is a great self-portrait art lesson tip.


Excellent lighting is essential to composing a perfect selfie. You will want to have illumination on the front and side of the face for a clean and even look. However, do not be afraid to experiment with backlighting or shadows for a more creative photograph. With digital imaging, you do not need to worry about wasting film frames, so click away at that shutter.


Be bold and creative with your selfie ideas. Choose wardrobe items or a location that is uniquely you. Allow yourself portrait to tell your story.

Now that you have some self-portrait self-confidence, grab that camera and get shooting!

Josefina Moran

Josefina is a Portrait and Fine Art photographer. Her works were exhibited at Agora Gallery in 2018 and was a recipient of the En Foco Fellowship. She taught photography in her home country Argentina and worked as a teaching assistant at the International Center of Photography where she eventually became a faculty member.

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