50+ Self-Portrait Photography Ideas to Inspire Your Next Photoshoot

Are you ready to step in front of the camera and create something amazing? Today, I’m here with a list of creative self-portrait photography ideas to inspire you.

Self-portrait photography offers endless ways to express yourself – but sometimes, it can be *really* hard to come up with fresh ideas.

As a self-portrait photographer, I love coming up with new concepts as well as getting inspired by fellow photographers.

Sometimes all it takes is a little spark of inspiration. Enjoy this curated gallery of awe-inspiring self-portraits*!

*I made sure that all examples you see are actually self-portraits, not just random portraits .

How to use these self-portrait photography ideas

Before we get started, let me just clarify a tiny little detail: Get inspired but don’t copy! All featured photographers in this article worked hard to build their skills, come up with unique ideas and create extraordinary self-portraits.

Throughout history, artists have always inspired each other. Nothing is entirely original and humankind (and the arts) remixes and innovates constantly.

However, if you’re feeling inspired by a concept or approach, don’t forget to make it your own! Blatantly copying another photographer’s work is not only a pretty lame move but also illegal (copyright, ahem).

It’s okay to…It’s not okay to…
use a relatively common ideacopy the composition 1:1
create a spin-off while crediting the original creatorgiving off an idea as your own without giving credit
build upon a concept while using your own stylemimic another artist’s style without adding any creativity of your own

If you’re not sure how to “steal like an artist”, Austin Kleon has written a whole book on the topic. Here’s a little graphic from “Steal Like An Artist” with some essentials to keep in mind:

Don’t steal this graphic without crediting Austin Kleon 😉

With that said, let’s get started! I hope these self-portrait photography ideas will help you take your photos to the next level.

New to self-portrait photography?

If you still have a lot of question marks about self-portrait photography, I highly suggest you also check out my extensive beginner’s guide.

It covers all aspects from the how to the why, the technical and the non-technical just as everything else you need to know to get started.

Outdoor Self-Portrait Photography Ideas

Let’s start with some beautiful outdoor photography. To me, nothing beats the combination of nature and self-portraiture. Because after all, aren’t we a part of nature?

Wander through epic landscapes

Since this is one of my favorite motifs to shoot, I hope you don’t mind me starting with some of my own work. Being immersed in nature is what makes my heart happy and thus inspires a majority of my self-portraits.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

An artistic self portrait of a woman wandering through fog by artist Anna Heimkreiter. The woman wears a yellow dress as she strolls through the high grass. The birches in the background are surrounded by mist, creating a mystical atmosphere.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Become one with nature

What if you felt so closely connected to nature that you can’t quite tell where one begins and the other ends? Merge visually with nature for the perfect camouflage.

Artist: Sina Domke

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Feel the power of a waterfall

Waterfalls carry enough force and beauty to level up any self-portrait. They are especially beautiful when shot with longer exposures – the only challenge is rock-solidly maintaining your pose if you want a sharp image.

Artist: Alex Stoddard

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Get out on the lake

Wading through ice-cold water can be a bit of a challenge – but so often it‘s more than worth it. Lakes are often especially calm in the morning hours and you might be able to catch a breathtaking sunset or some beautiful reflections.

Artist: Elizabeth Gadd

Artist: Katja Kemnitz

Shoot underwater

Underwater portrait photography is hard enough but turning it into a self-portrait is truly next-level. However, some people have indeed succeeded at doing so! To get started, you’ll need a waterproof camera case and a way to secure your camera underwater. Alternatively, if you’re good at editing, you can also create a fake underwater scenario, as Rosie Hardie did in the second example.

Artist: Sina Domke

Artist: Rosie Hardy

Chase the northern lights

Now, this is one of my personal bucket list items: Seeing the northern lights! Just being there would be a highlight but if possible, I would also love to create a self-portrait while witnessing that spectacle of nature.

Artist: Elizabeth Gadd

Turn the world upside down

Looking at life from a different perspective can change everything … and is an excellent way to create self-portraits that astonish with their unique angle.

Artist: Laura Zalenga

Use reflections

Find a quiet water surface and see how the beauty of your surroundings simply doubles.

A Fine Art Photograph depicting a beautiful lake in the morning. The lake reflects the shapes of a woman and two branches. There is fog in the distance, creating a ethereal mood in this self portrait.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Shoot in the fog

Are you looking for a self-portrait idea that is guaranteed to result in a mystical, ethereal feel? Introducing: Fog! A misty landscape never fails to create the perfect moodiness.

Artist: Sina Domke

Artist: Alex Benetel

Emotional self portrait showing a woman who appears to be crying in a foggy forest landscape.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Capture dramatic clouds

Another way to create a story-telling, moddy image is by shooting under a heavily clouded sky. Taking photos in cloudy conditions lets you take advantage of the beautifully soft lighting as well as a fantastic backdrop. Just make sure to bring a waterproof bag for your camera in case it starts to rain!

Dramatic self portrait photography taken by artist Anna Heimkreiter.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Let nature swallow you

Forever one of my favorite self-portrait ideas. Become part of a bush or blossoming flowers for a beautifully framed portrait.

Artist: David Uzochukwu

Artist: Katja Kemnitz

Sensual self portrait photograph showing a woman surrounded by forest plants.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Play with shadows

Photographing yourself in bright sunlight can be very challenging but makes for intriguing effects. Find some interesting-looking shadows and see what you can create!

Artist: Noell Oszvald

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Use a drone

For some truly spectacular shots, use a drone to capture yourself from above. Don’t have a drone? With a little bit of creativity, you can mimic the perspective by using a ladder, photographing from a bridge or attaching your camera to the ceiling.

Artist: Laura Zalenga

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Meet the moon

If you have a long-focus lens, you might be able to capture the moon in its full glory. Why a long-focus lens, you ask? It makes distant objects appear magnified, so that the moon doesn‘t just appear as a tiny dot on the screen.

Artist: Wendy Hansen

Artist: Marion Kabac

Self-Portrait Photography Ideas at Home

There are many reasons why you‘d rather take self-portraits indoors. Creating at home gives you the advantage of fully expressing your creativity without anyone watching. And maybe you just don‘t want to leave the house today – or maybe you can‘t – or maybe there just aren‘t any interesting locations close to you. So, here are some brilliant ideas for creative self-portraits at home.

Use every-day objects

My guess is, you already have everything you need to get creative. The average household contains hundreds of thousands of items – and many of them are suitable for creating artistic self-portraits. Mirrors, books, curtains, candles, glasses, you name it.

Artist: Brandi Nicole

Self portrait photography by Anna Heimkreiter. The creative artwork shows a girl from above surrounded by books.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Love your lamps

Okay, did anyone ever tell you how amazing lamps are? They are great for taking self-portraits at home and even allow you to experiment with artificial lighting.

Artist: Anya Anti

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Take a self-portrait with your pet

If you have a fluffy cutie at home, why don‘t you let them be a part of your creative practice? Not only does the internet love cats (and dogs, of course, too), it also adds a truly special touch to your self-portrait.

Artist: Simon McCheung

Artist: Laura Zalenga

Get up close

A face can tell a million stories. Don’t be afraid to get close to the camera – you might see yourself in an entirely new way.

Artist: Taya Iv

Creative close-up self portrait photography of a freckled female face looking through grass with hidden grasshoppers.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Have fun with a projector

If you own a projector or can borrow one, you can let patterns, words, or whatever you can imagine, appear on your body. Darken your room and let the show begin!

A trippy portrait of a woman with psychedelic patterns on her face.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Play with food

Now, I urge you not to waste massive amounts of food for the sake of art buuuut there are some really creative concepts you can bring to life with your kitchen favorites. So often, we can create amazing photos with what we already have in our households.

Artist: Marwane Pallas

Artist: Rachel Baran

Artist: Chantal Convertini

Get your house plants out

Have a lot of plant friends? Perfect, they might as well become the perfect prop for your self-portrait art! Another option is also to bring some plants or flowers from outside into your house and turn the indoors into a wild jungle.

Artist: Laura Zalenga

Artist: Fares Micue

Build your own studio background

A bed sheet, a curtain, a painted canvas, a large piece of fabric. You already have everything you need to build your own studio background.

Artist: Amelie Satzger

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Shoot through a window

A window or a glass pane can also add interesting effects to your photos. You can capture the reflections or add some water drops, paint or other decorations to make your self-portraits more interesting.

Artist: Seanen Middleton

Artist: Taya Iv

Use smoke

Smoke and the right lighting make for an epic combination. There are many ways to artificially create smoke, you could, for example, use a vape, a fog machine or smoke bombs. As usual, don’t do anything dumb and make sure there is enough air to breathe.

Artist: Ronny García

Artist: Foteini Zaglåra

Let your blinds create beautiful light patterns

Did you ever notice how beautifully the sunlight shines into your room? You can use your blinds or a piece of fabric to create magical patterns on your skin.

Artist: Ines Rehberger

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Use make-up to tell a story

For many people, make-up is an art. And with good reason! It‘s a great photo idea for story-telling images and some artists have really mastered their make-up skills.

Artist: Flora Borsi

Artist: Cristina Otero

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Dress up

Just like make-up, clothing can transform a person. Beautifully designed outfits let you slip into a variety of roles – if you’re good at crafting, you can even try to make your own costumes.

Artist: Elizabeth Elder

Conceptual Self-Portrait Ideas

Let‘s enter the realm of conceptual self-portraits! This term usually refers to creative photos that use post-processing to add a surreal touch to the final image. The better you get at editing, the more you can let your imagination run wild and turn your ideas into conceptual photo art.

Add some magic with flying objects

When I found out how to let things fly in Photoshop, I was so excited! You will have to work with several layers and combine multiple images into one. To perfectly match the lighting, it‘s easiest to photograph the „flying“ items in the same location at the same time of the day as the self-portrait itself.

Artist: Joel Robison

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter


This one uses the same principle as the previous examples – but this time, not only things, even humans can fly! You can achieve that effect by jumping into the air (maybe even on a trampoline) or by using a ladder or chair which you later remove in post-processing.

Artist: Kyle Thompson

Artist: Rob Woodcox

Artist: Rosie Hardy

Fire it up

Dear kids, please don’t set yourself on fire. It’s a lot safer to use Photoshop (or the editing program of your choice).

Artist: Melania Brescia

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Overlay two photos

Double exposures can be either created in-camera or in post-processing. The idea dates back to film photography when you could (accidentally or on purpose) double-expose the same roll of film.

Artist: Greta Tu

Artist: A.J. Coley

Become your own twin

Thanks to editing, you can even multiply yourself – once, or twice, or as many times as you want. It‘s a great way to create concepts that require multiple people and the fact that there are multiple selves can add additional meaning to the image.

Artist: Alex Stoddard

Artist: David Uzochukwu

Artist: Katharina Jung

Use mixed media

Why limit yourself to one art form? I’ve seen many artists print their photography work and paint over it, rip it, burn it, or stitch patterns onto it, … You could also combine photography and digital illustration, as I have done in the second example.

Artist: Brooke Shaden

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Turn yourself into a miniature person

…or a giant! Play with the dimensions and sizes of objects and people to create fantasy-like effects in your self-portraits.

Artist: Joel Robison

Many-hand magic

Ever felt like you don‘t have enough hands to do it all? Well, Photoshop can help! You can create wonderfully surreal images by multiplying your limbs – all you need to is stitch together several images of your hands in different positions.

Artist: Mika Moret

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Build your own props

Some photographers spend hours building their own DIY props or costumes. Apart from being a fun past-time, it is the best way to bring your artistic vision to life.

Conceptual fine art self portrait taken during the Covid-19 as a reminder to stay at home and take care of your mental health pandemic self-portrait art

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Urban Self-Portrait Photography Ideas

Since I‘m very much of a nature and fantasy fan (and follow mostly photographers from these styles), this section is lacking a little – but there are SO many things you can do in a city. If you have any examples I should add, please send me a message or comment below!

Here are some ideas I have seen before but could not find as a self-portrait:

  • stand still as a crowd of people passes by (long-exposure)
  • stand still on the platform as the subway passes by (long-exposure)
  • use the seats of a sports stadium
  • take photos with (abandoned!) railtracks
  • use buildings, fountains or monuments as backdrops

Catch yourself in a mirror

I love this classic black-and-white self-portrait capturing a perfectly timed moment. There are plenty of mirrors to find in public, so why not use them for creating a self-portrait?

A famous black-and-white self-portrait by Vivian Maier. The photographer captures herself in a mirror, held up by a man in the streets. It seems like she just caught a moment of moving houses.

Artist: Vivian Maier

Explore an abandoned building

Lost places are amazing locations for photoshoots, evoking a beautiful sense of nostalgia. Scout your area to see if there is a building you can safely enter – ideally, without breaking any laws 😉

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Self-Portrait Photography Ideas Without Showing the Face

I get it, a lot of us are a little camera-shy – especially in the beginning. If you‘re not quite ready to show your face (yet), here are some amazing self-portrait ideas that keep you anonymous. Faceless portraits also create a wonderful sense of mystery and are predestined for storytelling.

Let your hands do the talking

There is a reason why we use our hands while talking – they are able to convey powerful stories, from tender touches to strong symbolism.

Artist: Rona Keller

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Play hide and seek

Do you sometimes wish you could just… disappear for a little while? Taking a self-portrait doesn‘t require you to show your face – in fact, sometimes it is even more creative not to.

Artist: Ben Zank

Artist: Adi Dekel

Artist: Sean Mundy

Replace your head with… something else

These artists have taken some very artistic self-portraits without showing their faces. You can either use real-life props to hide or come up with creative edits in post-production.

Artist: Diana Simumpande

Artist: Fares Micue

Photograph yourself from behind

A lot of my images are faceless – a human figure in an intriguing surrounding offers many story-telling opportunities. In my native language (German), we even have an idiom all about how a beautiful back can delight as well 😉

Fine Art Photography taken in Iceland by Anna Heimkreiter. The soft, feminine photograph shows a the nude back of a woman among lupines under the rising moon.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Layers of mountains at sunrise with a small person enjoying the freedom.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Speak through body language

Your facial expression says a lot but so does your body.

Artist: David Hanagan

Emotional nude fine art photography by Anna Heimkreiter. A woman's bare back inbetween green ferns.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Shoot your silhouette

The key to silhouette shots is lighting. All you need is a scenery where the background is lighter than the foreground. Sunrises or sunsets work especially well for this one.

Ethereal self portrait photography in nature of Cappadoccia, Turkey.

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Artist: Anna Heimkreiter

Final words

Now, I hope you‘re feeling inspired and ready to create! Don‘t forget to follow your favorite artists and show them a little bit of admiration for their work (we love that, hehe).

Any other self-portrait photographers you would love to see on this list? Feel free to name-drop in the comments below.

And if you‘d like to support my work, I‘d be really happy if you shared this article. It took me 3 days to compose this blog post but it only takes a few seconds to share. Thank you!

Similar Posts


  1. Toller Artikel Anna! Da steckt ganz viel Mühe drin, das spür ich. Danke auch das du mein Bild reingepackt hast <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *