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  • Writer's pictureMarlene Emilia Rios

COVID-19 Self-Portrait Study

My usual photography is very much street photography with occasional spontaneous portraits, usually all shot on the street, in the moment with available light. I love spontaneity and people watching and taking advantage of available light and textures I find out on the streets. Now, just like everyone else, I'm at home. So I've set out to experiment and try out shooting some self-portraits. I've toyed with self-portraits before, but nothing too serious.

Before I started shooting there was a few guidelines I set out for myself:

-No 'clean' images (this was more of a post-processing goal, but it does affect the way I shoot to keep in mind how I want to edit)

-I don't want it to look like I'm shooting myself (in other words, trying to shoot myself the same way I'd shoot anyone else)

-I only want to use my 5omm lens and natural daylight.

-I want to get a very traditional sized medium shot portrait (something I wouldn't usually shoot of myself)

What I used: Sony a7iii, my tripod, ImagingEdgeMobile App (to use my phone as my remote trigger and preview monitor), and my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens with my Sigma adapter. And also a fishnet stocking for a few shots.

A few immediate challenges came up. Since I didn't use any sort of flash, this meant my depth of field fell quite shallow and I found myself shooting at f/2.8. Which might work great when you're shooting other subjects, but is an incredibly difficult depth of field to work with when you're self-shooting. It's nearly impossible to control which eye will be in focus, and adjusting the plane of focus is a gamble with the autofocus at f/2.8. One of the other challenges, is of course, figuring out how to pose yourself. Even with your phone as a preview monitor it's a slow process and a practice of body-awareness figuring out how to move yourself into the way you want.

Some perks of this process are also immediately evident. Being your own model and photographer also means you have all the time in the world to work on an image and figure out why it is or isn't working with you. And despite it being a slow process, I actually thoroughly enjoyed slowing down my process and taking the time to try things with slight changes and seeing what it does. I mean, there's really no rush, your photographer and your model have nowhere else to be.

Some surprises: shooting on the 50mm lens with a fishnet stocking at f/2.8 led to some truly beautiful grid-like bokeh. And shooting myself also meant I had the time to wait for the sun to move across the sky and play with the shadows it created in the room.

Here are my favorites from this shoot:


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