Self-portrait photography guide

Table of Contents

How to do the best self-portraits

Do the words “self-portrait ” and “selfie” make you cringe?

 I have some self-portrait ideas for you that will change your thoughts about selfies, self-portraits, and portraits –especially for those over 50 and if you don’t like to be photographed. These portrait ideas will also help your camera-shy friends.

Self Portrait ideas for over 50 women

 Before you start photographing, you will want to consider how you will do the portrait. The environmental portrait theme is an excellent way to make your self-portrait creative and add a narrative to your images so that each photo will tell a story.

Environmental photographs are about the person in a location and not just about the person. 

Capturing environmental portraits is a fantastic way to weave a narrative. These self-portrait ideas focus on the setting, revealing how the surroundings convey a unique story about the individual. Opt for locations with artificial lighting, exciting shadows, captivating architecture, artistic elements, or nature, and add flair and style to your self-portraits!


Environmental self-portrait, using the door as a frame

Self-portraits and the self-timer

Avoid octopus arms on your images and use the self-timer on your iPhone (or any camera) when taking self-portraits. The self-timer will make you look more relaxed in front of the camera!

Pick a good background!

A good background will make any portrait and self-portrait look professional! The background is crucial.

Environmental Self-Portrait ideas

The beauty of an environmental portrait is that the subject is not the leading actor but part of a scene. It allows for more flexibility when shooting a person. You do not have to show someone’s face clearly, and posing will be more relaxed. 

When to do Environmental Self-Portraits

This type of portrait is excellent for solo travelers (and groups) who want to tell their travel stories by showing the places they visited. 

 Let’s say that you’re going to photograph an artist. An environmental portrait in their studio will be more visually exciting because you will take a peek into their magical world.

 Photographing groups are fun when you find a quirky location. Remember that photography portraits do not have to be serious.

 If you are camera-shy, this will be an excellent way to take selfies or self-portraiture because you do not have to be the sole focus of the image.


Sunset glow on the yellow light and the dark background for a moody photo

7 outdoor environmental photography portrait tips

  1. Look for good backgrounds, ideally one that will give you several posing options.

  2. Know the sun’s direction and plan to shoot towards the sun, or behind it.

  3. Look for things that will frame you; this could be an architectural detail, plants that form a shape, a gorgeous blue sky, a cloud, or a door.

  4. Background: Look for street art, nature, buildings, and interesting structures.

  5. Posing: Choose a distant spot (but not too far!) from the camera and a good place to sit or stand.

  6. Framing: The subject must stand out in some way. Take your time framing and decluttering the image.

  7. Test shots will slow down your photography and allow you to fix your framing and exposures.


Environmental self-portrait: It’s more about the place and the light.

6 indoor environmental portrait tips for over 50

  1. Look for a room that will give you several options, including a lovely view!

  2. Use daylight to enhance your picture and take advantage of all the shadows and highlights. Shadows will allow you to hide behind it or enrich the atmosphere in the room, and when a room has even lighting, it will portray a peaceful feeling.

  3. Posing: You or the person must relax and look comfortable! Don’t just disappear into the background – own the room, so that your presence is part of the story.

  4. Do test shots and beware of odd things sneaking in your portrait. You don’t want a chandelier awkwardly over someone’s head or objects that draw the eye away.

  5. Shoot in front of the window for a partial silhouette, and include the view.

  6. Take your indoor portraits using natural daylight, and do not use the flash!


Environmental portrait, edited with Snapseed APP.

Cool Self Portraits: Framing

Symmetrical images create a peaceful and almost predictable feeling, and an off-center portrait will create mystery and depth in your photo story.

 A photograph with too many things going on will take away the attention from the subject – this is neither good nor bad if done with purpose! You may want to show chaos to describe a person but do it consciously. The person must stand out in some way.


Environmental portrait.

The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds will help you organize your image. The idea is that the rule of thirds will create space in your image, and when you place the main subject on one-third of the frame, it allows you to enhance the person and show the environment.


Environmental portrait using Rule of Thirds.

Use the grid on your iPhone to help you frame the shot and align the vertical or horizontal lines. Place yourself or your model on one-third of the frame, and voilà! If you find the rule of thirds too rigid or annoying, place the main subject off-center on some of your photographs. 

Photographs look compelling when not symmetrical, keeping the viewer curious and looking at your image for longer.


This is a great way to record something and only show your best side. Place a funny mask near you and you will always make you look gorgeous!

Another Camera-Shy self-portrait idea for over 50 women

I’ve got this awesome photo hack that’s become my go-to move! Picture this: I sneakily position myself in the magical 1/3 zone of the photo, revealing the epic background. It’s like a ninja move to showcase the surroundings while casually playing hide-and-seek!

Now, brace yourself for the pièce de résistance – my close-up self-portrait with the coolest shades! Yup, because, you know, when you hit the fabulous age of 60, you must add a few final tips and mystery to the game! 🕶️✨


Artistic self-portrait

iPhone’s Portrait mode for creative self-portraits

The newer iPhones have an excellent portrait mode option, allowing you to photograph a person and control the background blur, just like a camera. You cannot change the distance like on a DSLR camera, so you must move the camera closer or further from the subject.


Environmental Self-portrait in Cascais

portrait mode on your iPhone

  1. Select the arrow on the top of the iPhone for shooting options.

  2. Select the Live symbol.

  3. The “plus and minus” symbols will allow you to control the exposure of your image.

  4. Select the format: square or rectangular.

  5. The timer will be helpful if you are doing a self-portrait.

  6. Three circles: This allows you to choose a preset theme; I suggest you don’t use it for a shoot and edit everything afterward.

  7. Background blur: You can select this at the bottom with all the other options or on the top right of your camera. f1,4 will give you a very soft background, and f 16 will make the whole image look sharp.

  8. Stage Light: Choose the light you are working with at the bottom of the camera (natural light, studio light, etc.).

iPhone photo mode for cool self-portraits

 I like this best because it gives me more flexibility. I can use different apps to add effects like blur or other things. Choose your format, focus, and adjust the exposure- you can also change the camera distance by pinching the screen. Do not use the flash!


Fun self-portrait.

Tips to use photo mode on your iPhone

  1. Select the arrow at the top to see your shooting options.

  2. Select Live.

  3. Select the format.

  4. The “plus and minus” symbol allows you to control the exposure, but you can also do that by tapping on the iPhone.

  5. The timer.

  6. The three circles will give you presets- I prefer not to use these and edit afterward.


Don’t forget to have fun too!

How to Zoom on the iPhone

The best way to adjust the distance is to come as close as possible! The iPhone’s zoom tends to distort or show too many pixels, so use the zoom (pinching) on the phone to make final arrangements- Only for tweaking.

 The portrait mode on the iPhone does not allow for any of that, and I think it’s best to photograph flowers and still lives- but you may find an excellent way to work with it, so keep working with it.

Striking a Pose for Your Self-Portraits! – Let the Fun Begin!

Get ready to unleash your inner model by grabbing self-portrait inspiration from these photo wizards.

Dive into the art of striking a pose – observe how people sassily stand or sit in front of the camera. Marvel at the intricate dance of hands and give your feet the attention they deserve when capturing that full-body magic. Want a longer neck? Tilt to the side. Dreaming of a svelte look? A sneaky body twist is your new BFF. Drop those shoulders, and voila, a slimmer neck is yours!

For an extra boost of self-confidence and a dash of extra height, try the magic of shooting from below. And if you’re feeling a bit cheeky and want to play with proportions and dive into the funhouse, wield a selfie stick like a pro and snap away from just above your head.

Practice those poses in front of your mirror until they become second nature. Remember, keeping that face chill and relaxed while you work your self-portrait magic is vital.

So, join the ranks of the selfie maestros and let the good times and creative tricks roll!


Self-Portrait Photography FAQS

What do you need for a successful self-portrait session?

I take two tripods, a tabletop and a light 3-foot-tall one, and a phone holder for the tripods.

iPhone portable battery.

Cloth to clean the phone lens.

A bag with accessories and props to change and style your look.

Who are some rock star’s portrait photographers?

Before Cindi Sherman, there was the Countess of Castiglione, who did self-portraits in the 1850’s! Annie Leibovitz is a fantastic portrait photographer. For creative self-portrait ideas: Alec Soth, Francesca Woodman, Richard Avedon, Steve McCurry, and David Lachapelle.

These are a few of my favorite photographers. There are many more, and if you know of a cool one, please share with me here in comments!


What is a creative self-portrait, and how can I make creative portraits?

What’s the lowdown on crafting an epic self-portrait and unleashing your creative juices and genius in portrait-making?

Brace yourself because the possibilities are endless! Elevate your self-portrait game by rocking killer outfits, diving into unconventional light settings like the glow of street lamps, and spicing things up with filters that splash color like a virtual paint party.

Get down and dirty with unique perspectives and unusual angles – think bird’s or ant’s eye – for that extra pizzazz.

But hold on, it doesn’t stop there. Location, location, location! Pick spots that clash wildly with your vibe or harmonize seamlessly with your essence. Turn your artistic self-portraits into a visual masterpiece by choosing places that defy or define your personality.

Let the creative self-portrait session begin!

Photo apps for best creative self-portraits

Snapseed for everything! I love this free app. I’m a big fan of editing photographs to add mood and drama. I love the vintage options, and here are my other favorite Snapseed editing tools:

  1. Tune image to adjust brightness and other things.

  2. Perspective to straighten the vertical and horizontal lines.

  3. Crop to remove ugly corners

  4. Brush to edit on unique details of the image

  5. Healing will remove unwanted things like a branch coming off someone’s head!

  6. Vintage to add atmosphere to my photos

  7. Lens blur will allow me to blu certain parts of the image, but this is a limited tool

  8. Vignette makes the edges darker or lighter, and this helps enhance the main subject

  9. Glamour Glow I use this sparingly! It makes the skin look softer; the landscapes will also look very nice.

Blur App for creative self-portraits

Blur is a paid-for app. This app allows you to add blur in the places you want it. 

There is a learning curve, and I must admit that I find it difficult to work on details because the iPhone screen is small, but my blurs are improving! I enjoy this app and will keep practicing – it’s worth it.

Other great iPhone apps:

VSCO APP: They have free and paid possibilities

Adobe Lightroom: not free

Adobe Photoshop: not free

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More self-portrait photography tips for over 50 women

The faceless portrait

Get up close and personal with your self-portraits

 Post Updated 2023

Main Photo: Self-portrait in front of door in Cascais, Portugal

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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