The Secret to a Good Self Photo

My favorite family photos are always the ones we take ourselves, with one of us holding the camera at arm’s length.

There’s a trick to taking a photo this way, and I learned it from none other than Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model. Thanks to Tyra’s lesson of the week, my photos are much more appealing.

Here’s why:

When someone takes a photo of you, you end up with tiny posed faces and a lot of background.

christmas 1

If you take the photo yourself, not only are you more relaxed and having fun, but you’re closer to the camera.

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The secret is to stay close to the camera.

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Don’t try to lean back from it, or your smile will turn into a grimace, and your neck will look funny. Take as many photos as you want. Don’t worry about it being technically perfect, it’s not supposed to be.

Compare the difference between a posed picture versus a close self photo.

easter 1  easter 8

The posed picture might be nice, but the one we took ourselves is more interesting.

Even if you miss the shot, it can still turn into something fun. We always take a bunch and then keep our favorites.
easter 18

Sometimes the family photographer forgets to be included. If most of the photos you took this week were of the kids, be sure to take a couple of yourself too!

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I love these photos, and will have to try taking more like that myself! I almost never include myself in photos, but I’m sure as my daughter gets older, she’ll want to look back at photos to see what I used to look like too! Thanks!

  2. i totally agree, the up-close shot feels far more personal and interesting than the standard. you actually can see faces rather than background.
    i gave my boyfriend’s mom a framed print of her son and i that i took in the autumn.
    it was a pretty good picture and she also seemed to like it. :)

    na0´s last blog post..taking small steps to a brighter new year

  3. I love your arms-length shots, and thanks for all the tips – now I know how to take them so they turn out!

    maryanne´s last blog post..Frugal Organization

  4. Great tips! I never thought about the background when people take the picture. Looking at your photos got me thinking. Whenever I have someone take the picture it looks like the person I want to be. When I take it myself it looks like the person I really am. :) BTW – the photo of me on my blog is from my post about my Monster Truck ordeal and I took that photo myself :)

    Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..Frugal Tip: Use it all Up!

  5. I am with you- I love self portraits particularly with my family. It is so easy and you get some really fun shots and some humorous outtakes on occasion too ;)

    Amy´s last blog post..My New Year’s Resolution for 2008: Simplify

  6. We do this all the time and love how they come out :-D

    Alva Alvarez´s last blog post..Real Simple

  7. We always call these our “Thelma and Louise” shots. Even when you can only see a tiny bit of the surroundings, we always remember where/when they were taken, because they’re usually so much fun!

  8. Those are great shots! They are more fun when you take them yourself. Good suggestion. Thanks Tyra!

    MNKristy´s last blog post..Post-Christmas Family Fun

  9. My husband and I were just doing the self portrait thing yesterday. We ended up deleting them all but had a few good laughs in the process. And, with digital cameras now – it is no big deal to just delete until you get the shot you like.

  10. Love these photos of your family, thanks for inspiring me to try this! It’s much less “scary” now that things are digital anyway, right? ;)

    Hope you had a joyful and relaxing holiday, wishing you many blessings in the coming year!

    Steph @ Problem Solvin Mom´s last blog post..Avoid the Post Holiday Slump!

  11. I couldn’t agree more, so so true!

    Love the pics :)

    Sarah @ Life in the Parsonage´s last blog post..Cheap Therapy

  12. great post – thanks!

  13. I used to have the hardest time with these shots. I think my arms are too short. But this Xmas BKG and I found a solution. We both hold the camera. One keeps it steady and one presses the button.

    Your pics are adorable. The last one is my fave. Love your smile and your hair blowing back. Captures a “moment” instead of a pose.

  14. Oh that’s perfect! I love your photos. Now I know why I always look like someone is pulling on the back of my hair!! LOL

    corinne´s last blog post..Fairy Lights

  15. Great tips for taking photos.

    I just found your blog and I can tell already that it is my new favorite.

  16. I love these! We are just the same, each year choosing between a similar posed pic and a pic taken by me w/ my arm extended. I thik we’ve only chosen a posed shot for Christmas cards maybe once. :)

    What a darling family you have. Lane is pretty much the cutest little munchkin I’ve ever laid eyes on. :)

    liz (perspicacious)´s last blog post..organizing holiday supplies

  17. since we got our D40, I never take self photos anymore. I need to get out the point and shoot and do this more often. thanks for the tips and inspiration!

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog post..Shivering, snuggling, and semi-sabbatical

  18. Love the photos!
    I think my fav is the one where we only see part of your face.
    The fact that you have a gorgeous family helps. ;)
    I have a great shot my son took of me, it’s one of my favorite pictures of me (and I don’t like many) and he’s only 2!

  19. love it – great pics!

    jodi @ bpr´s last blog @ CVS

  20. What a great post – this is stuff we can really put to use! TFS! Oh and you guys make an adorable couple!

    Mary´s last blog post..Some encouraging thoughts for those getting a later financial start…

  21. Great shots! I never seem to have any luck with this type of photography, but I see my kids’ friends doing this quite a bit. It usually involves making weird faces of some sort, tho. Hahah!

  22. I like to crop my photos like nobody’s business – you can achieve the same effect of a close up which looks way more professional!

    Joy (from Just Plain Joy)´s last blog post..Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club

  23. i love this post and i love arms length self portraits! it is the best way i get to be in photos with my kids or with my husband! i don’t think i have done a self-family photo yet, though! happy new year, rachel!

    nicola´s last blog is all a matter of perspective

  24. and i forgot to say, you have a beautiful family! (not to mention photogenic!)

    nicola´s last blog is all a matter of perspective

  25. I’m so going to try this with my boys!

  26. Congratulations! Best wishes to you and your beautiful family!

    Jennifer´s last blog post..One of many gifts

  27. I’m going to put this tip to work. It was only after Christmas that I realized that there were no pictures of our whole little family together (and not one with me in it, period!)

    Congrats on the baby news! What a great way to start the new year!

    meg´s last blog post..Where to Begin

  28. That’s a great point! We’re going to play with this a little!

    Emily in Ohio´s last blog post..Meet William!

  29. Thanks for the tips, Rachel! And congratulations on your great news!

    Jessica´s last blog post..Taking a break…

  30. Judi Easley says:

    You made it seem so easy! So I grabbed my camera and tried it. Twenty expressions later, I think I have enough to do an entire layout of just me! Thanks for the direction! Wish I had done this when my little ones were still little. It’s hard to get them in a photo with you once they say goodby to single digits ages. Now that mine are 19 and 22, it’s almost impossible to get them at all!!! I only seem to catch the cats and the puppy these days. Now I can catch me, too!

  31. so much fun. made me smile. love it.
    : )