Self PortraitNathalie Lovera Snyder

Let's ramp up the difficulty level even one more notch. Glamour photography and nude photography made my list of Bucket List suggestions not because they are easy, but, in the words of JFK, because they are hard. That's why I'm more than a little jealous of the photographers in this book who seem to tackle photographing women and men almost intuitively.

That's why photographer Nathalie Lovera Snyder's intimate portrait of herself, tastefully and glamorously nude, is such an impressive accomplishment. After looking at this picture and some of the fine self-portraits that accompany the author bios in this book, I'm urging you to undertake this challenge yourself. Clothed or unclothed, a picture of the photographer, taken by the photographer, can be extremely revealing.

Snyder is letting her own self-portrait do most of the talking on her behalf. It shows her in a pensive mood with arms and legs strategically arranged, and a spider ring on her left ring finger as the only adornment. This is a classic pose that I think I first saw on the cover of a photography magazine several decades ago, but it's still an effective arrangement. The photographer reports that "I was just experimenting with nude photography/ self-portraits, and set up one main light to the left side, and a second light a little further back on the right." She placed a fill light bounced off an umbrella right behind the camera, and used a self-timer to trigger the exposure after she'd gotten into position.

Of course, a self-portrait isn't quite that simple, either technically or composi-tionally. From a technical standpoint, posing is probably easiest if you use a mirror to see how you're arranged and how the shadows and highlights are falling from your light sources. The best solution is to hook up your camera to an external monitor, preferably installed roughly at camera position, so when you're facing the monitor to check out your pose, you're also looking towards the camera lens.

A camera's self-timer is definitely not the best way to trigger the shot, because, with many cameras, you must jump up and reset the timer after each picture before you can take another. A little better are the self-timers found on some camera models that can be set to take several photos a few seconds apart after the delay has elapsed. I tend to use a radio remote to trigger the camera/studio lights, holding the control in my hand.

Those nuts-and-bolts details are the easy part. More difficult is deciding how you want to portray yourself, and how much of yourself and your personality you want to reveal. Your choice of personal image is probably as revealing as the final photograph itself, as you can see from the portraits of the photographers contributing to this book, arrayed in Appendix A. You'll find a variety of styles. If my arm is twisted, I can be forced to admit that my personal favorite, other than Nathalie Snyder's self-portrait featured here, is the photograph of himself that John Earl Brown submitted for this book. No offense to the other fine photographers represented, but having had the chance to know John Earl for awhile, I can attest that he really nailed the guy.

And, if you choose to put a portrait of yourself on your personal Bucket List, that should be your goal. If someone who knows you sees the photo and is convinced that you've really captured your own spirit and flavor, then you've nailed it, too.

Nathalie Lovera Snyder
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