Ten tips for more creative self-portraits this season!

Tis the season for making memories. As memory keepers, we have lovely intentions of taking lots of photos over the holiday period, so all the details can be remembered.  Today, Donna Meuli is here to share some tips and trick for getting YOU into those holiday photos! 

How many of you have managed to get yourself in a number of these photos? Often as the main photographers in the family, we’re so focused on being behind the camera that we forget to get in front of it! Last year, despite the best intentions, I only got myself in 1 photo on Christmas Day. Needless to say, this year I’ve realised I need to make better plans.

I’ve been focusing on my self-portraiture, in the hope that it will become a habit and that when I want to include myself in the family celebration photos, it will feel effortless.

I’ve compiled my top tips for helping you take some more creative self-portraits over the Christmas and New Year period and beyond.


Take some quiet time for yourself. I read through this again myself and was surprised how many fresh ideas I had. It will also give you all the tips for the ‘how to’.


It’s the time of the year for list making! Think about the sorts of photos you’d like to be in and compile a list. What do you want to record in your story?

On Christmas Day, it would also be helpful to set the alarm on your phone at intervals as a reminder because as we all know, there are many other distractions!


The best way to learn is to just start and keep at it. Learn how to quickly set the timer, focus, consider composition, lighting and where to place your camera. I used to be reluctant to take my DSLR off Auto until my son gave me some great advice. He said “Mum, just put it on Manual and never go back. You’ll figure it out”. He was right. I was forced to practice and learn and I’m grateful for his straight shooting advice! Nothing beats practice.


What is it about photos on Instagram or Pinterest, or in magazines that you like? Can you use an idea in your photo? Perhaps replicate a pose, or use prop ideas. If you’re on Pinterest, it’s great to start a board to gather photo inspiration. That way you soon find a common thread of things you like, and things you can work on capturing.


One of the easiest ways to add something extra to your self-portrait photography is the use of camera angles. What do you want captured? Do you want a wide shot of the room or an up close shot of your hands? Mix it up for an interesting story.

Place the camera at table height, or on the ground?

If someone else was going to take this photo of you, where would they have the camera? Set about finding a way to get your phone or camera at that height… if you don’t have a tripod, perhaps use a chair, a stack of books, or the ironing board. If these aren’t quite high enough, use books, or an upturned tissue box on top.


Some of us are in summer and some in winter. You will hopefully have a good source of natural light for day photos, but you may have to think creatively about how to get extra light. This is where practice will be helpful. You can experiment with turning on lights or lamps.

Perhaps use a hall light for interesting back lighting.

Use candles for a soft ambient effect.

There are lots of tutorials for taking photos around the Christmas tree using tree lights.


Remember you may get far more background or surroundings in your photos. Sometimes these details make excellent memories, but other times you may want to crop these out.

Think about cropping part of your face out too. That can place the focus on something else, like your hands, or your mouth, as well as maybe excluding a bad hair day!


There are so many ways to manipulate photos in editing software. You can do many adjustments in your phone, or use Photoshop or any free online photo software. Think about adding dark and moody filters which can highlight the contrast of light and dark.


Before you’re tempted to hit the delete button, think again. Is there a way you can use part of the photo by cropping or editing? It’s very easy to get focus and lighting wrong. Sometimes this may add some drama to the photo. And sometimes a blurry photo may be better than none at all.


I believe that self-portraits should be a fun thing, not a chore. Try to think outside the box and find new and creative ways of taking the regular types of photos. Remember that December photos and even Christmas Day don’t have to be all about Christmas. The aim is to get you in the photos as part of the memory and as the storyteller.

I’m using my December self-portraits in a special mini album and also as part of my Project Life pages. You can see more of these projects on my blog if interested in further reading.

Wishing you the happiest Christmas and holiday season. May you be recorded in the memories!

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1 comment

  1. Avatar missing cinback says…

    Love these ideas Donna! Thank you for sharing your creativity.

    0 Reply 0 Replies