And here's an obvious benefit that is often overlooked – when it comes to testing gear, you're always available to be your own subject. Your subject won't likely get bored or annoyed if things don't go according to plan (especially if the photographer takes an unusually long period of time getting familiar with the new gear).
Need a profile photo for your website? Or business card? Create the image that you're most happy with. Don't rely on someone else's vision to perfectly represent who you are as an artist.
In case it's not overwhelmingly obvious, I don't usually like to smile in my self-portraits. I like the "intense" look and can usually pull it off fairly well. The funny thing is that I'm really very friendly, approachable and – dare I say it – possibly even a goof ball. But taking my own self-portrait allows me to be whoever I want to be (even if only in pictures). However, I found out the "intense" look isn't very good for online dating profiles. Smiling picture, check.
Self-portraits can also be inspiring. After taking a self-portrait one day, I thought it might look interesting as a magazine cover. So after a little bit of Photoshop work, I created something fun that I really enjoyed. That image led me to create several more tongue-in-cheek magazine covers in the series.
After flipping through the fake magazine covers found on my Facebook page, a client asked me to create one for him. So not only had I honed specific photography and Photoshop skills while creating the personal project (which snowballed from a single self-portrait), but doing so led to business I would not have had otherwise.
I'm not saying that there's never an appropriate time for a cell phone snapshot. But as photographers, we should take pride in the images we post for people to see. Instead of just capturing where we were at a moment in time, we should take the opportunity to hone our craft through self-portraiture so that we're even better prepared for tackling all of the photographic challenges that we might otherwise be ill-prepared for.
If you're reading this, you've obviously made a relatively serious investment in (and commitment to) photography. Get the most out of that investment by creating images of yourself that you can enjoy sharing as much as creating.
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