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Proper Self Portraits vol 1 2016 .pdf

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2016 ISSUE



How A Camera
Really Works
My Top Ten
Have A
Gander In
My Bag
The Secret
To Off
Ten Tips For The
Perfect Pose

Within These P

My Story
The Right Tools For The Job
Location Location Location
How A Camera Really Works
Light Is Everything
Whats In My Bag
Compose Yourself
Ten Tips For A Perfecr Pose
Trigger Happy
A Matter Of Perspective
Three Legged Friend
Mirror Mirror
What The Stop
A Few Words About Editing
Time To Get A Little Bit Flash
One Flash Lighting Techniques
Advanced Speedlighting
Outdoor Speedlighting
Some Things You Really Should Know About
Be Inspired
Final Thoughts


Copyright © 2016 by Alexandra Starr for alexandrastarr.co.uk
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including
photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods,
without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case
of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other
noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission
requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions
Coordinator,” by emailing Alexandra from her website at alexandrastarr.


Photography is fun, and for
everyone, but sometimes we
wish our images were a little
bit better, a little bit more
interesting. Fear not, for help
is at hand.

Photography is more accessible now
ever before, with even more of
us buying an iphone just for its 8MP
camera, even those who say they
have no real interest in photography
often buy smartphones with good
camera's nowadays.
What this publication sets out to do
is give you a clear and concise
understanding of the basics of
photography, which need not just
apply to self portraits, but other area's
of photography as well. It is not
intented to disuede people from
taking selfies by looking down at the
selfie phenomenun, but more as a
tool for those who wish to take images
of themselves to the next level.
Inside these pages you will find plenty
of handy and helpful hints and tricks
to create better images, for personal
use, or to share on your favourite
social networks with the entire world,
and lets face it, by the time you have

finished you will want to show the
world your memorable photographs.

My name is Alexandra starr and I have
been seriously into photography since
my early teens, and have also been a
photographer in the past, shooting
many wonderful and exciting models.
The wealth of experience I have gained
from those amazing models I have
worked with, as well as my own
photography, will inspire you to be
more creative about the photographic
process, as well as easily explaining
seemingly technical aspects of
photography such as exposure, and
explaining how to use off camera flash

So dive head first into capturing your perfect
of me that
here is you
a self
selfie images, and let theEvery
are more than a mere ducface...

My first self portraits came from a basic
3.1MP HP compact camera, way back before
digital photography and the selfie generation
reared it's head, when we used 35mm film,
sometime in the late 90's, and I had to take
them to a high street photo developers to
get my photographs printed, that now feels
so so long ago indeed...
I then bought a very basic digital camera, one
by Hewlet Packard, a computer manufacturer,
not widely known for their photographic
equipment, however back in 2001 there was
not much choice, so I bought this Photosmart
430 compact camera, with a wee 3MP sensor.
The camera was never going to light up the
world, but it did what I wanted it to do, and
that was to be creative with my work.

natural choice for me, and gave me the tools
to really be able to get creative, to really express
myself, and explore other aspects of me that
I never really noticed before.

I did self portraits in abandoned buildings even
way back then, I have always loved those sorts
of places anyway, but I soon lusted after a
more powerful camera, something more like
the DSLR that I used to own in the late 90s,
which was an EOS 300, which I used alongside
the AV-1.
When Canon released the EOS 350D, it was a

And here I am now, about to impart all of my
knowledge which I have gained over these last
20 odd years or so. Gained mostly through trial
and error I will add. I have had no professional
training whatsoever, and it shows, oh it really


I guess it all began when I was 9, begging my
dad to let me take a photo on holiday with the
camera, he let me, and I have been hooked ever

Being a very keen urbex enthusiast, it was
inevitable that I would end up doing self
portraits like this sooner or later.
I remember finding this location early one
sunday morning in late summer, early autumn,
it looked to me like an old care home, or
childrens home, but the layout almost
resembled a prison.
It was pretty ruined by the time discovered
the place, with evidence of vandalizm and
wrong doing, but I was very drawn to it, and
vowed to return wearing something a bit
A few weeks later I returned wearing my
handmade (by moi) dress, for a few images
by one of the windows, I also took some
lingerie images at this place at a later date,
but this particular image was my favourite
from the entire shoot at this location.
I did quite a few images by windows at this
place, the light was nicely subdued slightly by
the surrounding trees and the slightly filthy
windows. I never got into any trouble taking
photos in this place, so I was very fortunate
I would carefully climb through an open window,
extremely naughty I know, but I did it, and I
would slowly walk around the building, making
sure that there was nobody home, listening
intently for any disturbance ahead or behind
The damage in this place was saddening to
see, despite not even knowing what this place
was, and sometimes the smell and dust would
make me gag, as plaster was falling off walls
and there was so much dust around, specially
at the windows, they really were that filthy!
The camera was very basic indeed, a long,
rectangle thing that had no manual controls
at all, but it did have an LCD screen at the
back, so I could see instantly what I had taken.
Soon after I bought a PC and photoshop
elements, later using CS6, but that little camera
really gave me a taste for digital photography,
and in particular, self portraiture.

I would find these amazing churches,
sometimes disused, and I would always stop
to take some images with the HP Photosmart.
I had that camera until I bought my Canon
EOS 350D in 2003, which really took my self
portraits to another level!
I really began to experiment, even taking risky
self portraits at work very late one night, and
I continued to seek out different locations to
shoot in, grand locations, decaying locations,
pretty locations and some pretty naff ones
but most were fabulous for shooting.
Come 2009 and I began shooting fashion and
glamour for local models, but to be honest my
photography back then was not upto much,
and my self confidence wained due to my
transgender side, I was still fairly in the closet
back then.
Now I am not so closetted, and love being out
and about with my camera, though I have not
taken up my former work with models yet, it
is still something I would like to get back to
sometime, but for now my self portraits and
portraits of my family will have to do


The Right Tools
For The Job
It seems that all you need for a selfie these days
is a mirror and an iphone, as well as the obligatory
duck face pout, so so attractive... And we don't do
selfies do we?
But with a little effort, and the correct gear, we
can create images which will excell those home
mirror poses. Of course we need a camera, thats
a given, but there are a few other pieces of
equipment that could help with self portraits.
Now, you can go for a cheap tripod, but you
get what you pay for, cheap tripods are
notoriously flimsy, shakey and unstable, and
defeat the object of owning a tripod in the first
place. A good tripod should never move, should
be solid even during very long exposures of 30
seconds etc. But most self portraits are not
taken at such slow speeds.

It is always a good idea to invest in a bag which
can carry a tripod as well, though you can get
tripod bags also, but most decent bags will be
able to carry your tripod around with you.
Camera's do get heavy after a days work, so
a bag is a good investment, plus it keeps your
gear safe and dry from the elements.


You can even mount smartphones on tripods
nowadays, with smartphone grips being
available for smartphones of all sizes.

The camera plays an important part in images,
of course it does, but the best camera for the
job is the one you have on you.

Forget selfie sticks, the true self portrait
enthusiast uses tripods, not their arms and a

That line is so ambiguous, so "sit on the fence
why not"...

A traditional tripod is the way to go, although
a good alternative is the Joby GorillaPod,
specially those designed for medium to large
SLR camera's, as they can be used to hold off
camera flashguns from almost anything, the
trick is to hang it upside down, and angle the
head towards your subject!

Yes a camera is important, but as for make
and model, camera type, is all down to personal
preference and budget.

Camera Bag

Fortunately nowadays most camera's have
Manual modes on them, as well as a host of
creative modes, but the manual mode is the
one that always works out best, why chance
your lovely images being ruined by a camera's
innaccurate exposure settings?

A good camera bag will last for years, and not
only are they great for keeping camera
equipment safe, they are also great for carying
other things too, like a bottle of water, keys,
hair brush, makeup.

Depending on the light and situation, camera
metering can be hit and miss, shooting into the
light is unfavourable simply because the camera
will always underexpose, leaving images dark
and useless.


The DSLR, a camera for the serious, for the
professionals, a DSLR is guaranteed to get you
amazing images surely? Well, not really, you see,
the best camera in the world is useless without
imagination and creativity on the photographers
It is true that digital single lens reflex camera's
(DSLR's) offer greater potential, as well as better
image quality than those compact camera's.
But the DSLR is not the be all and end all of
modern camera's.

Mirrorless Camera's
Today we have a choice of digital camera
formats, and one of the most exciting in recent
years is the arrival of Mirrorless Camera
Systams, or CSC's,
These camera's completely do away with the
mirror, which flips up upon exposure, thus taking
away the need for a pentaprism therefore
reducing the overall size of the camera, allowing
for more compact bodies while still retaining a
larger sensor than compact camera's in general.
Mirrorless camera's are often much lighter than
their DSLR counterparts while still offering the
flexibility to change lenses for a wider
photographic spectrum.
Like most modern DSLR's, mirrorless also have
flippy tilty screens which point towards the
subject, eanbling selfies to be taken much easier
and with greater accuracy.

Compact Camera's

for selfies, most fall short of being easy to use
simply because the LCD screen does not rotate,
so we cannot see ourselves posing just before
that shutter fires.
So compact camera's are not ideal, but just
because they have no tilty screen, it does not
mean that they are incapable of creating good
images, I took selfies many many years ago on
my first digital camera, a Hewlet Packard
Photosmart 435 which allowed me to get really
creative with my self portraits.

Wireless Triggers
Wireless triggers are one of the most useful
gadgets in a selfies arsenal, enabling the
photographer/model to photograph him/herself
without even touching the camera, or using the
self timer.
Triggers can be bought for just a few quid and
can be used to trigger the camera from up to
100 feet or so away. You can get wireless triggers
for most camera's nowadays, you can check
with your camera manual to see which remote
wireless triggers work for your camera,
alternatively go online and type in "wireless
triggers" followed by your camera's make and

Not really needed, but they do come in handy
to redirect bright sunlight back into your subject.
Again, these are relatively cheap optional extras,
the plus side being that are very portable, the
downside being their very light, and wide, so
tthey tend to catch the wind and fall over if
not supported by something rock solid, even a
slight breeze will send it to the floor so be warned!

Compact camera's are ok for everyday use, and
general snapshots of family life and travels, but


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