Lizzy Gadd’s photography truly shows the difference between a “selfie” and a self-portrait

Tips & Techniques

Selfies are probably the most common photographs created today. Most of us shoot them, but how many of us shoot them the way Lizzy Gadd does? Lizzy photographs herself in the various landscapes of the world and her work truly illustrates the difference between a simple “selfie” and a “self-portrait”.

Lizzy’s also the subject of SmugMug’s latest film, which sees her exploring Scotland’s beautiful Isle of Skye looking for new worlds in which to place herself. She talks about her motivation and technique, and it’s fascinating to listen to her insights and thought process.

On the SmugMug blog, Lizzy says that she’s quite particular about the mood in her work and that her favourite photos involve moody weather, mist, sunrises and sunsets. She says that weather plays a huge role in conveying the mood, and so do the locations. I can’t disagree with that (it’s one of the reasons I moved to Scotland myself).

But there’s more to it than that when it comes to self-portraits. You also have to be a master of previsualisation. You need to be able to look at the scene and know exactly where you need to be in order to balance out the shot, the right angle and pose to fit the mood, and you have to have a reasonable estimation about how the light is going to hit you once you get there, too.

But’s not just a case of setting down the camera, walking into position and hitting a remote shutter. Lizzy shoots timelapses, allowing her to pick out her favourite shot from the sequence, without having to awkwardly tie up one of her hands with a remote trigger. It also allows her to forget about the camera and focus on the moment. To experience it.

Lizzy’s journey with self-portraits began in 2010 when she decided to tackle a 365 project with herself as the subject. She shot a year of self-portraits every day, and every day was an experiment. Lizzy says that the constant practice and feedback on her images allowed her photography to grow more quickly than at any other time.

At the time of doing the 365, Lizzy says she didn’t really have a style, and on the very last day, stood in a freezing lake, surrounded by mountains and nature, it hit her. And that’s what has led her to where she is with her work today.

Lizzy’s work is very interesting, and extremely impressive when you consider that she’s both the photographer and subject of her images. Relatively few people out there can even capture this kind of feeling and consistency when photographing other people, which is a whole lot easier than trying to photograph yourself when you can’t see exactly what the camera sees.

Lizzy offered up a number of tips for shooting self-portraits on the SmugMug blog, and they’re well worth a read. Many of the tips can equalyl apply to any type of wilderness location photography involving humans, too.

If you want to see more of Lizzy’s work, be sure to check her website and follow her on Flickr and Instagram.

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