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Tips for Self Portraits with Brandi Nicole

Hey everyone! Brandi Nicole here; a portrait & self-portrait photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. While in quarantine, I have been challenging myself to stay creative by photographing more self-portraits. The more I shoot them, the more I learn, and so I wanted to encourage anyone who is curious to try it out! The following are my top tips and advice on getting started.

Now has never been a better time to explore new photography and lighting techniques through self-portraiture. For many of us, this form of photography seems more intimidating than having a model and team present, but I assure you- it is way less scary than it looks!

As someone who used to dislike being in front of a camera and somehow came out on the other side something of a self-portrait artist - I can tell you that the lessons I have learned through countless trial and errors have without a doubt been one of the key factors in my growth as a photographer.

Some of the equipment I use:

  • My camera (Nikon d850, set to take nine exposures .5 seconds apart)
  • A tripod
  • Strobes (An ELB 500 with a 100cm Rotalux Octa for example)
  • A remote shutter for my camera
  • A tether cord
  • A laptop; tethered to Capture One or Lightroom (Be sure to bring it close to you but out of frame so you can make adjustments while shooting!)
  • & last but not least, I like to use a mirror! (Set up directly behind the camera so I can see my 'pose')

Now, if you don't have some of these things - do not fear. You can honestly be creative and take self-portraits with just your iPhone if you wanted, but as I slowly acquired these tools - taking photos became a whole lot easier & I kept taking my self-portraits to the next level.

I want to focus now on some of the self-portraits I made on a small 5x5 ft clearing on the floor in my tiny Brooklyn apartment a few years ago. I used one ELB 500 light with a 100cm Shallow Octa and was able to create self-portraits I still love to this day. It is important to remember that you can create whatever space you have, whether that's the floor of your bedroom, your bathroom, setting up a small studio in your living room, or going outside!

Once you have your gear set up, now is the time to be creative. If the idea of a self-portrait that shows your face like a traditional portrait is scary, think outside the box. How can you incorporate light & shadow to create a more mysterious portrait? How can you use the design principles of shape, motion, or lines to create a dynamic self-portrait? Think outside of the box, and you will be rewarded with interesting portraits!

If you are newer to photography or lighting with strobes and want a great activity to help increase your knowledge of how to light portraits; Self-portraits can help! Challenge yourself to experiment with testing your lights and modifiers in self-portraits. Experiment with every type of modifier you have: Bring your light directly over the camera for a photo, then over to the left/right, bring it closer or further, bounce it into a wall or ceiling - repeat with every modifier you have (and don't forget to test with a bare light source!) Once completed; look at them all side by side in a program like Bridge, Lightroom, or Capture One. By comparing your lights and modifiers side by side, you will get closer to mastering lighting and identifying lighting you like to add to your future shoots.

It's important to remember that not all of my self-portraits (and I bet anyone else's!) turn out to be amazing and share-worthy. So don't be discouraged if your photos turn out to be something you don't love, especially at first. But it's important to remember that with every moment you put into trying something new - you are learning new lessons and techniques to help you with whatever shoot you tackle in the future.

We would love to see what you create! Be sure to tag both Brandi and Elinchrom if you end up trying self-portraiture!

To see more of Brandi's work and to keep up on her future projects:

Find her on Instagram at @brandinicolephoto or her website www.brandinicolephotography.com

Now it is your turn!

If, for some reason, Brandi's article wasn't enough motivation, we've partnered with her as the judge for a Self Portrait Challenge!

To enter: Create a new self-portrait using at least one artificial light source and post it on Instagram or The Official Elinchrom Community on Facebook with #ElinchromSelfPortraitChallenge in the description by June 9th, 2020.

A winner will be announced live in our Facebook community on June 11th and receive an Elinchrom 39" Rotalux Deep Octabox + Speedring of choice plus a spotlight in all of our social channels.

Brandi's favorite lighting gear is:

  • ELC 500 Studio Monolight with TTL, HSS and Smart Pro-Active Cooling

    $899.99More infoAdd to cart

    ELC 500 Studio Monolight with TTL, HSS and Smart Pro-Active Cooling

    EL20619.1.US

    The Elinchrom ELC 500 Studio Monolight is a modern 500 Ws compact built to handle your next adventure reliably and consistently. Featuring TTL with Manual Lock, HSS, Smart Pro-Active Cooling, Auto-On, and direct compatibility with Elinchrom's world-renown light modifiers. Always Prepared The ELCs are ready to go the moment inspiration strikes you. With Auto-On, the unit is always in stand by mode with your previous settings saved, and the onboard TTL speeds up dialing in your next exposure. The Manual Lock function enables a quick switch from TTL to Manual without losing exposure settings for quick adjustments or to explore creative effects. Engineered to Last Every aspect of the ELC 500 has been designed and rigorously tested to deliver maximum reliability and extended lifetime. Elinchrom created the ELCs to last through your next adventure. And the one after. And many after that. Stay Cool Under Pressure With Elinchrom's Smart Pro-Active Cooling, the ELC's learn your shooting style and adapt their cooling cycles around it, never interrupting your creative flow. Plus, their cleverly engineered airflow design and low-noise speed-controlled fan can handle the heaviest of workloads. Explore More As important as a solid studio strobe is, the light modifier is where the real magic happens. The bayonet Quick-Lock system grants you direct access to Elinchrom's world-renown light modifiers. Combined with the ELC's bright, Daylight LED modeling lamp to aid your pre-visualization. The potential to evolve your lighting style is endless. Unlimited Flexibility Your equipment should never limit you. Whether you are experimenting in your living room or working in a large studio, the ELC 500 can acclimate. ELCs can be powered down to 7 Ws so that you can reach your desired depth of field or add only a hint of light. Plus, with HSS, you can freeze motion, overpower ambient light and darken backgrounds. Edit Less, Deliver Faster. Elinchrom's precise colour science and accuracy over the whole power range enables you to deliver professional and consistent results to your clients with less wasted time and money in post-production. Wireless Freedom Never miss a shot with Elinchrom's Skyport radio-frequency system compatible with 7 camera brands. You also get intuitive control of flash settings from your camera and your computer. Even non-Elinchrom units and speedlights can be integrated into the wireless setup via the Elinchrom Skyport Receiver Plus.

    $899.99
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit

    $2,124.95More infoAdd to cart

    ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit

    EL10310.1

    The Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL Dual To Go Kit is supplied with two flash heads. This kit is the ideal way to take full advantage of the ELB 500 TTL's fully asymmetric power distribution. Other features include High Speed Sync, Active Charging, and built-in Skyport compatibility.


    The Power and Performance of 500 ws in an incredibly portable package.


    The ELB 500 TTL is powerful enough to overpower the sun, delivers 400 full power flashes on a single charge and has a fast recycling time of 2 seconds at max power. All in a package that weighs just 8 Lbs including the battery and head.

    $2,124.95
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Rotalux Octabox 175 cm (69")

    $399.95More infoAdd to cart

    Rotalux Octabox 175 cm (69")

    EL26649

    This is the biggest Rotalux Octa.

    Very popular among beauty and fashion photographers, as they prefer the round catchlight given by this softbox. It's a great folding beauty dish when removing the front and inner diffusers and adding one of the optional deflectors.

    Another innovative feature which distinguishes Elinchrom softboxes from others is the lightweight dedicated speedring, which utilizes knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the four stainless rods which form the frame of the box, to the ring. This allows easy assembly of the box in a de-tensioned state. The user then simply pivots the sockets 90 degrees until they lock into place to tension it for use.

    The 69" (175 cm) Deep Octa shape features a large surface area which renders a "wrap-around" light quality especially when used at close range. It is ideal portraiture.


    Shape

    The 69"" (175 cm) Deep Octa shape is ideal for head-and-shoulders portraiture for a group of people, as a hairlight for groups or for reflective products and glassware.

    Quick Setup, Breakdown

    Lightweight, dedicated speedrings utilize knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the 8 stainless rods which form the frame of the box.

    Storage

    Fits assembled but de-tensioned in the included case, ready to set up again in seconds.

    $399.95
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Rotalux Deep Octabox 100 cm (39")

    $289.95More infoAdd to cart

    Rotalux Deep Octabox 100 cm (39")

    EL26648

    This narrow shaped Deep Octa reduces the spread of light and offers sharper shadows compared to standard sized octagonal soft boxes. It provides a very even diffused light over the front screen and a very direct crisp light when used without diffusers to give a beauty dish look.


    The Elinchrom Rotalux Deep OctaBox 39" diameter softbox emits a more focused soft light than most OctaBoxes when used with its included inner and outer diffuser. With either, or both of the diffusers removed, this box acts like a super-large reflector for your flash head. Another innovative feature which distinguishes Elinchrom softboxes from others is the lightweight dedicated speedring, which utilizes knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the stainless rods which form the frame of the box, to the ring. This allows easy assembly of the box in a de-tensioned state. The user then simply pivots the sockets 90 degrees until they lock into place to tension it for use.The 39" (100 cm) Deep Octa shape features a large surface area which renders a "wrap-around" light quality especially when used at close range. It is ideal portraiture.


    The 39" (100 cm) Deep Octa shape is ideal for head-and-shoulders portraiture for a group of people, as a hairlight for groups or for reflective products and glassware. Because of it's deep shape when the light comes out it appears more "punchy".


    Lightweight, dedicated speedrings utilize knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the 8 stainless rods which form the frame of the box.

    $289.95
    QTY
    Add to cart

  • Rotalux Stripbox 35x90 cm (14 x 35")

    $149.95More infoAdd to cart

    Rotalux Stripbox 35x90 cm (14 x 35")

    EL26644

    This softbox is great for product photography, especially bottles and other round reflectives items. They can also be used for narrower ? length portraits and are also widely used to light backgrounds where the length helps avoid fall-off from top to bottom.

    The 14x35" Rotalux Strip Softbox is designed for use with a strobe. With fabric not intended for the heat of a continuous light, the 14x35"" Rotalux Strip comes standard with a silver interior and a flush front face. The flush mounted front face provides a wider spread of light than a box with a recessed front. It may be used as side light without as much wrap around as a conventional rectangular softbox.


    Shape:

    The 14 x 35" (35 x 90 cm) strip shape features a large surface area which renders a ""wrap-around"" light quality especially when used at close range. It is ideal portraiture.


    Quick Setup, Breakdown:

    Lightweight, dedicated speedrings utilize knurled, spring-action sockets to connect the four stainless rods which form the frame of the box.


    Storage:

    Fits assembled but de-tensioned in the included case, ready to set up again in seconds.

    $149.95
    QTY
    Add to cart

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