Sure Shot: At Arm’s Length: Shooting Artistic Self-Portraits

What do Rembrandt, Van Gogh and you all have in common? You're famous for your artistic self-portraits, of course!

What's that? You don't "do" self-portraits?? You're missing from nearly 100% of your family photos because you're always the one behind the camera? Not this year, sister! Starting now, you can start including a valuable piece of your family's life that's too often missing from your scrapbook: yourself.

Just think of the advantages! A subject who never cringes or refuses to look at the camera. The opportunity to tweak your own image however you'd like... whether by turning an ordinary photo into a Pop Art-style masterpiece or by dropping pounds and whitening teeth in seconds with a little help from your trusty photo editing software. And (most importantly) the chance to take your rightful place in the photos and stories of your family history.

Here's how to get started today.

1. Loosen up. Self-portraits are candid, casual and fun. Don't worry about capturing the perfect pose or a flawless expression. For best results when shooting with a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera, remember to hold your head vertically—don't tilt it backward and give yourself a "chinny" look. Take a good look at your shot's framing by choosing a camera with a rotating LCD viewfinder; we like the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS. Get more self-portrait inspiration (and lots of examples) from Rachel Meeks at Small Notebook.org.

2. Get inspired. It can be tough to go from camera-shy to photo-friendly all at once. Need a little hand-holding? Check out challenges such as the one hosted by Daily Mugshot; you can pick up self-portrait tips, browse other users' "mugshot" galleries and even upload your own when you're ready to share.

3. Check your tech. The simplest self-portraits need no special equipment at all. Just hold your camera at arm's length and fire away. For a super-quick and easy setup, you can pick up a Web cam—it's also great for chatting with faraway friends and family members! Just mount it atop your computer's monitor and you'll be ready to start shooting. Or, for amazing artistic potential, invest in a remote control or cable release for your still camera—prices start at under $20 for a basic setup. (Just Google your camera's model and "remote control" to find one that suits your needs.)

4. Grab a friend. Still nervous about taking the plunge into self-portraiture? Take the pressure off yourself by sharing the screen with one or two other subjects. Even if your faces block out the background, you'll still create a lasting memory of a special place and time.

Give your self-portrait an artsy boost in seconds with Adobe Lightroom's built-in Develop settings. Here, the Aged Photo setting produces a vintage-style image with no work required. Download more free Lightroom presets from Adobe Studio Exchange.

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