We all know the traditional selfie: you grab your phone, switch to the front-facing camera, adjust the angle with your hand, turn to get the best light and then bam... You fire-off a few photos. It's possible to get some nice shots with just a little effort, but what about the other end of the spectrum? What if you want to create a truly spectacular self-portrait? If this is the goal, Brooklyn-based professional photographer Brandi Nicole has some great tips for you...
Tip #1: Think Outside the Apple Crate
A friend had given Brandi some apple crates that she was using to organize some art supplies, but she decided she wanted to paint them matte white. She also wanted to shoot a new self portrait, and make a YouTube video. Instead of painting the crates as a separate task, she decided to kill three birds with one stone by using the act of painting them as the through-line of her photoshoot and video production. The great takeaway here is that you can transform a mundane chore into an artistic theme with just a little creative thinking. Find inspiration in your surroundings by thinking of what can make an interesting story.
Tip #2: Don't Overthink the Apple Crate
This is a great tip, and something I need to keep in mind. Instead of coming up with an elaborate concept for how the finished product will look, Brandi just sets up her gear and starts shooting with a loose theme in mind. The flipside of this coin here is that she initially thinks this will be an easy shoot, but ends up working in her studio until 5 a.m. But, at the end of the day (or the middle of the morning), she ends up creating something beautiful and unexpected.
The Nanlite FS-60B includes a Bowens-Mount adapter so you can use larger light modifiers
Brandi uses two Nanlite Forza 200 Spotlights and two Nanlite Para 90 Softboxes. Later in the shoot she also sets up her Nanlite Forza 60, and eventually captures the self-portrait she liked best. With the recent announcement of our Forza II lineup, the exact lights Brandi uses were discontinued, but excellent replacements for them would be the Forza 150 or Forza 300 II, and the Forza 60 II. If you never need to use battery power, the FS-200 and FS-60B are excellent studio lights for these kind of shoots, and they're more affordable.
Tip #3: In a Rut? Switch It Up!
After fully exploring her initial set of ideas and not landing on a photograph she was satisfied with, instead of giving up Brandi takes a break and comes back reenergized. Crucially, upon her return she changed up everything. She changed her wardrobe, she changed the background, she changed the props that were in frame, she added the Forza 60 to the background and removed the reflector to create a dreamy glow, etc. It's a great reminder that instead of waiting around for a visit from your muse, you can instead just keep persistently working and make your art happen.
Thanks for checking out this article and video! We sincerely hope it's helpful and maybe even sparks some ideas for you to pursue.