Creativity Exercise: Add Movement to a Self Portrait

We both believe very strongly that taking self portraits should be something all photographers do on a regular basis. Not only are they a way to show everyone that you existed, they are also a form of self expression, time just for yourself and your creative side, and are a great way to learn and practice techniques (lighting, posing, composition) that you can use when shooting other people.

We’ve already had a creativity exercise to Get in the Frame, and over the next four weeks we’re going to expand on that exercise with four brand new self portrait creativity exercises!

One easy way to add interest to your photos and to make them feel more dynamic is to show movement. You can do this through motion blur, panning or by catching your shot mid-action where the viewer can tell that movement is implied.

This week we’re going to add movement to our self portraits. You can do this exercise on your own, or you can get the family involved - kids, hubby, dog - or better yet, try it a few times with and without others. Get as creative as you wish, just add a bit of movement to add visual interest to an otherwise still image.


Adding movement to a self portrait is a great starting point if you’re new to self portraits, feeling a bit self conscious about being in front of the camera, or are unsure what to do with your hands or body. Adding movement into your portrait will make it feel WAY less awkward and will help you to relax.

Think about clothes twirling, jumping, mid-step, objects being thrown, splashing water, hair moving and body positions that show you are in the middle of an action.

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A few ideas to get you started:

  • twirl your skirt/dress

  • crank up the music and dance around

  • twist your head side to side/up or down

  • turn on a fan or grab a hair dryer and aim it at your hair

  • jump

    • your kids will like this one if you want to include them too - see who can jump the highest, jump on the bed together, jump in the rain puddles, jump over the waves at the beach

  • swing the kids around

  • play in the water - swimming, splashing, running

  • go outside in the wind

  • run


If you want to ‘freeze’ the action you’re going to want to ensure you have a high shutter speed (we recommend a minimum of 1/500) and if you’re moving forward and back, you might want to consider closing down your aperture as they’ll be moving in and out of your plane of focus quickly. You’ll also want to grab focus when you are still before adding the movement as it can be tricky to focus when you are in constant motion.


As always, we would love to see your images from this week’s exercise so be sure to tag us with #unscriptedmentoring on IG. If you’re not comfortable sharing your self portraits yet, don’t let that stop you from taking them! Just give them a go just for you to see how it feels on the other side of the camera…we promise that once you start taking them you won’t want to stop!

- Jenny + Kelly

P.S. Not sure where to start and need a helping a hand? We've put together everything we've learned from taking self portraits in our e-book THE ART OF SELF PORTRAITS! This 39 page e-book will take from wondering where to start with self portraits to falling head over heels in love with them! It's jam packed full of our top tips, how to's, self portrait ideas, before and afters, pull-backs, exercises and of course of tons of inspirational images. You can grab your copy here.