Photo © cattyal
If you're stuck for ideas, have a look at other self-portraits people have taken but do remember you're trying to create an image that's about you so take inspiration from others but don't copy them. Take time to think about what you want the portrait to say about you and what you can use (props) and where you can shoot it to help achieve the right message.
Think about mood and feeling
The feel you're trying to create for your portrait will change where it's shot, the expression you use and the pose you create. If you want a portrait that feels happy, for example, you won't choose a dark, colourless alley as your shooting location.
Indoors, especially if you're new to self-portraits, a plain wall or a sheet of plain fabric will work well as a background. Outdoors, consider the colours and textures that surround you. If the background is too distracting however, you won't be the main focal point of the shot so it's important to get the balance right.
If you're shooting straight on portraits you may find a stool, covered in material, will give you something to lean on and ensure you're in the right position every time you take a shot.
Do experiment with your shooting position too as switching to ground level or shooting from above, for example, may sound like a small change but it can make a big difference to the overall feel and interest of your shot.
The problem with shooting a self-portrait is your camera can end up focusing on the wrong thing if you're behind the camera, setting up then move into frame to take your shot. Switching auto focus on and using something in your place, say a light stand, will mean you can set the shot up then switch places with the object to take your shot.
A remote trigger is handy as you can fire the shutter from your sitting position but if you don't have one, just set the camera's self-timer. You can also try setting an aperture that gives you a greater depth of field so you know you'll be in focus when you move into frame. You'll also need a tripod so your camera is supported while you take your shot.
Switching to this mode will give you the chance to alter your expression and tweak your pose between frames. It's a mode most cameras now have, including the Nikon 1 model
which also features Smart Photo Selector
that shoots 20 high-resolution images almost instantly then saves your best five. Shots are recommended based on facial expression, composition and focus, which will help you pick the best self-portrait.
If you have a series of expressions / poses you like, try turning them into a triptych – an image that consists of three different images that usually relate in some way.