with Courtney Slazinik
Self Portraits–Get In Front of the Camera!

I don’t want to hear your excuses: my hair is a mess, don’t have make up on, have a few more pounds to lose, it’s time to take some self portraits!

Embrace how you look TODAY!!

If you are reading this blog the odds are you are the main picture taker in your family which means you are in about 10% of the photos. I got so frustrated that I wasn’t in any pictures especially when my girls arrived. The only time I was in photos was when we were somewhere and I remembered to ask someone to take our photo. I had very few photos of me and my family living our normal life. When I started my Project 365, I took on the added challenge of a “Monday Me” photo. This was the best thing I did!! Now, I have at least one photo a week that I am in. Some weeks I’m by myself and some I’m with my family.

Do it for your kids!! You don’t want your kids to go through old photos and wonder where you were :O)

Start with a tripod and a remote. Trying to use a self timer adds a lot of extra time and it is harder to lock your focus. There are days when I can’t find my remote and I have to use the self timer. If you do have to use the self timer make sure it is on continuous shoot and try and find someone to stand where you are going to be in order to focus on them. The bonus about using a remote is it will not take the picture until it finds something to focus on. The following pictures were all taken with the self timer and took forever to take.

Take a TON of pictures. Finding your focus will be your biggest challenge. I typically take about 100 photos when I’m in the photo and get about 25% that are in focus. Using a remote will really increase your chances of being in focus. However, even with a remote the focus can fall behind you. The focus in the majority of these photos fell on the chair in the background.

Check your LCD screen to check your focus. Nothing is worse than thinking you are in focus and taking a ton of pictures. Then you check your camera and they are all out of focus. As you can see, that happened in this photo. Unfortunately, by the time I figured it out, she was not in the mood to take pictures anymore. Sometimes as a mom you love the photo even if it is flawed :O)

Focus on someone who is in the picture with you. Make sure your aperture is high enough that everyone will be in focus.
In this picture, I focused on my friend beside me. Unfortunately, I did not know at the time I needed to up my aperture so my other friend was in focus. Notice, how she is on a different plane then the rest of us. I should have taken that into consideration when setting my aperture. (Yes, I set up my tripod at Starbucks and made my friends take pictures with me. It was Monday and that is what we did on Monday :O)

ISO 200, f/3.2, ss 1/80

In these pictures, I put my focal point on my daughter’s eye.

If you are the only one in the photo, find something in the background to focus on and try and place yourself right in front of it. This works well if you are using a remote. Move your focal point to a spot on the wall and try to put your head there. I move my head around with each photo in hopes of getting my eye on the focal point (Aren’t you glad you aren’t paying for this info :O) he he

For this one, I focused on the top corner of the chair I was sitting in and did my best to get my eye in that spot.

Use a mirror if you don’t have a tripod handy.

Need Ideas of what to take pictures of???
Take pictures of your daily routines. How fun will it be to look back when you are 80 and see the things you used to do in your twenties :O)

Get in photos with your kids. Your children will cherish these pictures when they get older.

Make Encourage your spouse to be in some with you.

Take your own family photos. Let’s be honest, family pictures are a challenge no matter who is taking them. Sometimes they turn out like this.

Get creative!!

The best advice I have is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

I have been asked about the remote and tripod I use. I have a Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control for Nikon D40, D40x, D60, D80 & D90 Digital SLR Cameras
and Manfrotto 190XDB 3 Section Aluminum Tripod with the Manfrotto 322RC2 Joystick Head Short.   Honestly though, I had an inexpensive tripod from Target for about 6 months before it broke and I decided to get a great one.

Canon users, from my understanding there are two remotes. The first one has a 2 or 3 second delay (double check your manual though) I think that is what I read in my sister’s manual. The second one I believe takes the picture without a delay but don’t quote me on that :O) It may depend on which camera you have.
Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote Controller for Canon XT/XTi, XSi, T1i and T2i Digital SLR Cameras

Canon Wireless Remote Control RC1 for Canon XT/XTi, XSi, and T1i Digital SLR Cameras

  • October 18, 2010 at 9:42 PM

    So I may just be hormonal, but for some reason this post made me teary eyed. I have always cherished photos. They are something I have loved to look at for as long as I can remember. Some people think your crazy for taking so many photos and for being silly, but I now say you’ll be glad I took these one day. My house burned we I was 10 years old and my grandparents house burned when I was 24 years old, so I have so few photos from childhood that it breaks my heart. Plus, my mom rarely gets in photos so I have even fewer of her.

    Maybe, that is why I get teary eyed. I want the photos to cherish for myself and I want my children to cherish them. I want them to know we had fun. I want them to know their mom was once a young, not so hip, but fun chick.

    Thanks for reminding me why I take a million photos a week. It is not so I can edit them or have the most perfect shot, it is for the memory.

    Sorry for the book!



    ps-sorry i have not joined picture share. i have my own friday meme, so i haven’t fully decided when would be the best time to post my picture. maybe, i could do it on saturday

    • October 18, 2010 at 10:07 PM

      Goodness, now I’m teary eyed! That breaks my heart that you lost so many of your photos from your childhood and of your history. That is exactly why we take photos…to remember and capture this time!!

      I want my kids to remember the fun we had too :O)

      I didn’t realize you had something on Friday. I will have to check that out :O) I post it Friday morning which is Thursday evening for you guys in the States. I think one of the girls typically posts on Thursday night :O) I hope you do join! Your photos are beautiful and I love to read your comments!

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  • October 18, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    This past week I’ve been telling myself to take a self portrait and I just keep putting it off, this week I will do it!! And I LOVE the ones with you and your family doing the little things from day to day, and the one of you and your girls at that park is my FAVORITE, so so special.

    • October 18, 2010 at 10:08 PM

      Thanks! I hope you will share your self portrait :O) I would LOVE to see it!!

  • October 19, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    wow do you really take about 100 pics each time? I need to do that. I usually only do about 15-20 and then I get so frustrated and over it. hehe. I’ll keep trying. Thanks for your tips!

    • October 19, 2010 at 7:58 AM

      Yes, I really do take that many, if not more :O) I just have a hard time nailing the focus since there really isn’t a science to it. Wish I had better advice :O)

    • October 20, 2010 at 4:29 PM

      a good exercise i use to tell my “students” was to take 1 hour block of a given day and take ONE shot every FIVE min. DO NOT review the picture on your camera WAIT till you get home to do that. you’ll be surprise as to what you may or may not see. ;)

  • October 19, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    LOVE ths idea! I need a remote clicker and a good tri-pod! Suggestions!?

  • October 19, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    Curses. I guess I have to now. I just got depressed looking at all my old profile pictures on facebook (I joined about 7 years ago, when it was *still just for college kids and only at a few colleges*) and I was like, I’ve AGED! Then my husband prettymuch told me that it was just my face that had aged, which was meant nicely but didn’t help.
    I also guess that if you take a whole bunch of pictures you have to look OK in a couple!

  • October 21, 2010 at 2:39 PM


    • October 21, 2010 at 3:17 PM


  • December 30, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    I really enjoyed this post too! Love your self portraits, they are fab! I have mostly taken shots of myself in a reflection in the window…heck I even took one of myself in the toaster but would like a few that don’t have the view of the camera in them. I don’t have a tripod so I guess I will have to try the self timer for now. Thanks again!

  • January 18, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    I just can’t do it! But, one of these days, when I’m feeling extra amazing, I will post a self portrait. Not soon, but before the end of the 365. :)

  • February 26, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    I just saw this page and I wanted to comment on how lovely your family is. I have appreciated your help with all my photography questions in the past and it is so nice to put a face to the helpful and generous person.
    I love all the great tips on self portraits… I just recently bought the remote you recommended through your link and a tripod so we just started dabbling with self portraits, I am going to take some of the tips you mentioned and try them out.
    All the best on your current trip, happy and safe travels.

  • May 31, 2011 at 8:02 AM

    […] photos of you being a part of their life…NOT just the one behind the camera. Check out this post if you need some ideas for photos with your […]

  • June 30, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    I was Googling to see if Clickin’ Mom’s had a coupon and I stumbled upon your site. And I am so glad I did. What a wealth of information. Thank you. I just read your suggestion on buyin gthe good tripod and remote. I think I am going to go for it. I have a Nikon D90. I know that you mentioned that the remote wold be compatible. Is the tripod as well? (First time tripod purchase. Sorry of this is a silly question.)

    THanks for any (more) help you can send my way.


    • July 1, 2011 at 9:39 PM

      Lauren, I’m glad you found my blog :O) Yay!! Welcome! That is not a silly question at all. You should hear some of the questions I ask :O) Yes, the tripod I have will work with a D90 since that was the camera I had when I got the tripod. Remember to buy not only the legs but the ballhead as well. “Pro” tripods don’t come with the top part that you attach the camera to. It is a little pricey but I love that tripod. I have a small less expensive travel one as well that is great for trips because that one is a little heavy. Yay!! I look forward to seeing some of your pictures…especially the ones you are in!!

  • August 3, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    I’m not sure how I stumbled onto your blog….but I’m so glad I did. i’m new to blogging as FLICKR was taking me down a path I wasn’t very proud of. I am always striving to take better photos but I needed a place to showcase my work. Your tips on selfies are awesome. I’ve done a 365 and that was a tremendous growth experience. I love the fact that you are a military wife…something I’m proud of myself. My dad was in the Navy, PCS’d every 2 1/2 yrs and my husband is a retired Maj. I just wanted to say hi and thank you.

  • January 15, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Great post I have been wanting to take a self-portrait. I recently got the RC-6 remote, now I just need a tripod and I want something that will last. Thanks for the recommendations!

  • March 17, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    It’s easy to say “embrace how you look” when how you look is OK. I won’t be taking any self-portraits until I lose about 30 pounds. But for when I do, I’ve bookmarked this great post!

  • March 22, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    Courtney, I love this! I am looking into getting a Nikon or a Canon (I have a junky Easy Share right now, lol) and your blog is going to be great at helping me navigate the world of photography! Great blog and I am excited to read more!

    • Courtney
      March 26, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      I’m so glad to hear that! Let me know if you have any questions about anything! Photography is such a wonderful hobby and I would love to help you along your journey!! :O)

  • April 20, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    Your photos all look so fun, I wish I could do that!! I posted about blogging-photography and the self portrait today and have this linked to it, thanks for posting!

    • Courtney
      April 24, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      Thanks for linking up to my post!! I loved seeing your picture in your post! I hope you decide to hop in front of the camera more often!

  • Lauren
    June 26, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I’m in college and definitely don’t have the funds for a tripod or clicker…what are some tips to taking self portraits without those? Should I set the camera on something and use the timer?
    Thanks for any help!! :)

  • […] of being in photos. Using the interval timer is just another great resource that allows me to hop in front of the camera so my kids know that I was there too…and was cool at one […]

  • October 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Wow this was a great exercise much harder then it sounded! Took me forever to get things set up and not to metion focusing without being able to focus on my self but all in all I think it turned out pretty good! Come and see my self portrait I did! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=362721837144011&set=a.266573026758893.63633.266569836759212&type=1&theater

    Thanks !

    • Courtney
      October 11, 2012 at 9:53 PM

      I’m so glad that you got in front of the camera! Yes, it takes a while to get the settings right but after a while I promise it won’t take nearly as long :) You look beautiful!!

  • […] Continue to do self portraits. You know I’m a huge advocate of getting in front of the camera. It is so important for your children and family to have photos of you in them as well. You were […]

  • […] more about taking your own picture and why: -Self portraits – get in front of the camera -I am […]

  • Manoj
    March 22, 2013 at 3:45 AM


    your photos are great. I’m a newbie when it comes to photography. do you do, post processing of the shots in any software, or these are as is from the camera ?

  • March 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    […] and our children know we always have a camera to our face. You know I’m a huge believer of getting in front of the camera, but I also really wanted a few shots of myself and the other girls in action. How cool will that […]

  • […] care what you are wearing, how much you weigh, or if you have make-up on. Just get in the photo. – Self portraits: Get in front of the camera – Think before you click – Tips to for taking your own family portraits – 21 lessons learned in my […]

  • […] Self portraits: Get in front of the camera – Self portraits made easy – Tips for taking your own family […]

  • Carmela Gersbeck
    November 27, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    The best thing i bought for my Canon was an intervalometer made by Shoot. It’s $15 and it acts as a remote, but you can have it set to take shots at different times for up to 99 hours. I do it for group photos all the time. I set it to have a 7 second delay so that I can get in the picture, and then I set it to go off every 5 seconds. Between photos, I suggest people do different things (jump, make a face, do a group hug, etc.) I get some great photos that way. I have also set it up in a corner during a party and it takes pictures every few minutes, so you get people dancing, talking, etc. and they are candid shots. The one I bought is made by Shoot, and it’s always with me.

    • December 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      That is why I love remotes. Definitely a lot of flexibility :)

  • February 28, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Great pictures. You are right I am not in many pictures. I enjoy taking amateur photos.

  • Tanya Monroe
    May 5, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Courtney, you and Amber cullum were talking about a picture share? Is this open or a private thing. Just being nosey! Also to Amber, so sorry about the fires and loosing your photos. I cried for you.

    • May 7, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      It was something I did 3 years ago. It was open to everyone but I have stopped doing it. I do now have a weekly photography theme that I send out in my email updates for people to share those on our Facebook page :) You can sign up for the email updates here – http://forms.aweber.com/form/63/467222863.htm

  • Lisa Davis
    May 6, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    I love your blogs and wanted to thank you for all of it. I am never in the shots and it’s so disappointing. I have a canon t4i and 85 mm prime lens. I love the lens, but sometimes I don’t have enough room to get far enough away when indoors. I want to get a 35 or 50mm for portraits. Which do you recommend? I don’t to have to get in peoples faces but if the 35 is best and most versatile then I’ll get over that :)

    • Brandi
      May 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      If you’re doing indoor photos, I would recommend a 35mm, especially if you’re doing it professionally. If it’s a hobby, I’ve been fine with my I use my 28-70mm and that works fine.

    • May 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Hey Lisa,

      I agree with Brandi. If you are looking to do mainly indoor shooting you may want to consider the 35mm. :)

  • June 2, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    Thank You Thank You Thank You for this. As part of my Project365, I have also decided that Monday’s will be self portrait day. Today is my first Monday and I was a bit uncertain where to start until now. Thanks for the awesome ideas and advice :)

  • January 21, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    […] Self-Portraits: Get In Front of the Camera […]

  • […] you want some fun ideas and tips on how to capture your everyday life you can read Self Portraits: Get In Front of the […]

  • February 24, 2015 at 12:43 PM

    Thanks for the tips, Courtney! I have always been the family photographer and do not have nearly enough photos with the kids when they were young or even my husband and I together. I need to get better at taking photos of myself with our grandson who is 5. And even though I’ve had a camera on him his entire life, he is a typical kid and likes to block me from taking pictures lol. Stealth is my best mode but it’s hard to be stealthy when a tripod is involved. Any ideas on shooting yourself with a less than cooperative subject? So far, my best tactic has been “Can you help Grandma with her photography homework?” Again, thanks for the tips and for sharing your beautiful work with us! tina

    • February 24, 2015 at 2:21 PM

      I’m so glad to hear you want to hop in front of the camera more. My suggestion would be to set up the tripod and camera, and then get an activity or something that your grandson loves in the shot. Then ask him to come over and read, play legos, have a dance party or whatever he enjoys. Then it is about him and not the camera :)

  • Janet
    February 24, 2015 at 9:28 PM

    Great timing for this fabulous article Courtney…. I have made up my mind to get in some more photos, as you say, Im the one who takes 99% of the family photos, and in the end I have to say, can you take a photo of me and whomever! I always include someone else, for fear of feeling vain…. Not sure why, but like Amber, I suddenly feel tears eyed?
    I have aNikon D90 and I have the remote control, so no real excuses…. So, with that in mind, there’s no one at home at the moment, so a good time to practice…..

    • February 27, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Oh wonderful! You definitely are not vain for wanting to be included in the memories! I hope you were able to get some photos you love.

  • Bron
    July 8, 2015 at 6:37 AM

    This is such a great post, and wonderful photos! You mention putting the focal point on your daughter’s eye but if you’re shooting with a remote doesn’t she move and you lose your focus by the time you get back next to her? Or are you upping your aperture there too to give you a better margin for error?

    • July 23, 2015 at 10:36 AM

      Yes, I do both. I try to shoot with a narrow aperture around f/4 to give me more flexibility to get the image in focus. I do put it on her eye and with a remote the camera will still search for focus.

      • Susanne G
        January 4, 2017 at 7:27 AM

        Hi Courtney

        I am not sure i understand this part: “with a remote the camera will still search for focus.”.

        I use Back button focus, focus, then turn the lens to manual focus and then use remote + tripod.

        But how does it work that the camera will searc for focus – and is that better that to put the lens on manual focus after focusing?

        kind regards – and thanks or a womderful post!!

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