Taking it to the next level

Instagram and social media are FILLED with amazing photos. Sometimes it's inspiring, sometimes it's just straight up discouraging.

How can I look like that? How can I take amazing photos like that person? How can I be them?

Questions like these start to flood our minds and next thing you know, we're filled with negative thoughts.

I'm not photogenic. I'm not talented enough. I don't have a nice camera. I don't have nice clothes. I don't have that kind of body or lifestyle.

I think this is something we all can agree on, right? That social media, although a beautiful space, can be harmful to our mental health, our body image, and our confidence. What's scary about this is that these thoughts are things that we've become comfortable with. Kind of just "normal" things we think about on a daily basis. But why do we have to settle? Why are we letting crazy societal standards or social media trends define how we see ourselves? It can be so hard to compare myself to what I see on Instagram everyday. If I find myself comparing my work to another photographer or being critical of someone else, I make myself unfollow that account. Or I intentionally leave a positive comment to combat my own negativity. I don't need to be filling my mind with negativity, especially if it's costing my happiness. Setting boundaries like that helps my mindset on social media.

I want to create a community where I uplift and encourage others.

I actively find ways that I can support other creatives on Instagram. Whether it's sharing their posts, commenting something positive on their feed, or overwhelming them with compliments in their DM's, I find ways to encourage others.

As someone who likes to create content, I found myself becoming more and more interested with self portraits. I'm a photographer, so naturally I love seeing people experiment with this medium. Funny enough, I'm not big on selfies- like the ones you take on your phone (although those are fun too). That being said, I just never really liked photos of myself. I figured, if I could control how I looked and how the images were edited, I might just like how I look. So that's exactly what I did.

Getting Started

What you'll need

I'm just going to list them here to make it simple and straightforward:

  • Any camera: your phone, DSLR, mirrorless, or film (literally anything)
  • You
  • Inspiration: No, I'm not talking about that trendy post you saw on Instagram. I'm talking about the movie that makes you happy or that song that makes you feel understood.


  • Props: These are great because this is your chance to get really creative! For some reason, I love putting things on my face (haha). I'll share some photos below and explain what I used for them!
  • Natural or artificial (studio) lighting: I love natural lighting. Find any window in your home and you'll be amazed at how good you look.
  • Editing Software: I use Lightroom to edit my photos and I use HD Presets as a starting point! Presets aren't necessary but they have helped me find my style. I will say, though, don't completely rely on them. Play around with it until you're happy with the result!
  • An outfit that will make you say "damn" when you look at yourself in the mirror.

Here's my step by step process

I get inspired by makeup, a piece in my wardrobe, conversations I have with people, or music. I usually fixate on my idea for days. What kind of lighting I want, the emotions I want to evoke, and how I'm going to execute it. I'm naturally a very thorough person.

For my setup, I use a Canon 5D Mark III, a Sigma 35mm 1.4 art lens, and a tripod. Like I said, you don't need professional equipment at all. Work with what you have. I find that being limited can force anyone to be more creative. All of my self portraits I do in my bedroom. I don't own a studio, so I work with what I have.

I set up my camera right in front of me and through LOTS of trial and error, I shoot until I feel like I have what I need. I immediately edit what I have in Lightroom until I'm satisfied with the overall look. I try to go for warm and moody tones, which can be seen in my photos below.

Don't forget to be kind to yourself

I love to do self portraits because it gives me a chance to express my creativity and I love seeing a vision come to life. It takes a lot of work, but I pour myself into the photos I take no matter what it is. It's also just so empowering. Remember, this should be for you! Not for your followers, not for the likes. Progress takes practice, so have fun with it!

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I was inspired by the way social media makes me feel. I took clippings from a magazine I got at the grocery store. I chose words and phrases that resonated with me the most. "I want to be enough." "Thriving in her 20's." "Smile!" "On what's next." I used Aquaphor, which is like Vaseline, to stick them on, which probably wasn't the best method because the clippings became transparent. I wanted this photo to be a little rough around the edges and very powerful.

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I love playing around with natural light and shadows! I was in between sessions and I was really loving the lighting. This was more of an impromptu shot but I ended up really liking it.

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I was binging Glow Up on Netflix at the time and I wanted to show people that you can use Dollar Store items for photoshoots. I picked up some glitter and honey at the Dollar Store and this is what happened. I hung up a bed sheet I got from Goodwill, which you'll find in many of my self portraits. Again, I love shadows.

portrait photography

I love flowers! This was actually the first day I got my Mark III. I was too excited and wanted to use my camera on myself. I run through my neighborhood every week and I always see these little flowers. So I took some Aquaphor, cut them up, and stuck them on my face. This is one of those photos where I feel like I didn't execute it well enough. Which is totally fine, I'm always learning.

how to take pictures

Hello shadows! I'm inspired by light a lot. This was in my bedroom of course. I put some random objects on my desk in front of me for more shadow shapes and played around with it. This was at the beginning of the COVID lockdown in 2020 so I was itching to do something.

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Ok don't judge me but I was binging the Great British Bake Off and they were making sugar glass! So I wanted to put it on my face. Because why not? I ended up burning the candy (I wouldn't last on the show) and I used Aquaphor to stick it on my face. I was listening to a lot of Spice Girls that day and I think you can tell by looking at this, haha. Also, my friend gave me that top and I thought it was really fun! Shot in my bedroom.

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I love line art. I took some white eyeliner and drew lines freehand. Also, my earrings were an inspiration for this one!

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No particular reason, I just wanted to feel good about myself :)