Monday 30 October 2017

Give Your Instagram Husband A Break

It's about time I did a post about my self-portrait shots. It’s probably one of the most common topics over on my Instagram DM’s so it makes sense to talk about it in more depth! I went live on Instagram in Ibiza and was overwhelmed by your questions and support.

I’m guessing you’re reading this because:

1. Your Instagram husband is awaiting/hinting his redundancy 
2. You’re ready to work on your terms and time
3. You’re curious how I take my own style shots
4. You're ready to gain confidence learning a new skill

So a bit of background as to why I decided to go out alone and learn this new skill. The majority of my friends are bloggers. I moved to Sydney on my tod, not knowing one person. I reached out to different creatives to make new friends. We ended up catching up for coffee and helping out each other with photography. This was a great way to meet people, and I still love doing this with a lot of my close friends. I still work full time besides Style Structure meaning weekends are the only time to capture content. The majority of my creative friends took their blog full time at around 45’000 followers, and most of them like to shoot Monday-Friday which is completely understandable. - weekends are precious and the time to spend with loved ones.

Besides fellow bloggers, I had an ex boyfriend that helped me out on weekends - but that became awkward and ended up going downhill pretty quickly, especially when he abused my appearance/weight at times. It made me feel very unconfident in front of the camera and my low self -esteem started to show in my face. 

I turned to my good friend Jiawa Liu (or you may know her as @beigerenegade). Her answer was simple.... “Photograph yourself”. At first I was shocked she thought I was capable of this. Why would she suggest this when I have no experience? Jiawa had been taking her own images for years, and she is amazing at it. She told me the tripod to buy (I use the K&F Concept 62) which is extendable.

So with my new equipment in hand, I ventured to North Sydney to shoot my first self-portrait blog post  September 2016. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few things I needed to learn. 
  • Firstly, I was using an 85mm lens, which wasn’t too smart to start with as it meant the tripod was really far away from me. Since then, I invested in a 35mm which means I can be a lot closer. 
  • Secondly, once I pressed go on the remote I kept making the mistake to move. Once the remote is pressed, it’s better to stay in a similar spot as the camera has already focused on you. 
  • Thirdly, I made the mistake taking test shots of my location and kept the spot focusing on my backdrop. This meant that once I jumped into the frame I wasn’t in focus. Instead, the background was.
(Third Form Dress: similar here)

With practice, patience and time I started to correct my mistakes and slowly started to test myself in busier environments. This year was my biggest test - Midtown New York City at lunch hour. You can see the post here

Yes, people stared.

Yes 2 girls Snapchat me to probably upload to their story “what the F is this chick doing".

And yes some people asked if I’d like help taking the picture like I was a tourist.

No I wasn’t a tourist. I was working! The more you practice the less you notice others around you. What are the chances they will see you again? Maybe you will strike up conversations and educate passers by of what you are doing. Maybe it will become more of the norm and people won’t as intrigued?

Before I regained my confidence, there wasn't one image on my feed without sunglasses. I would hide behind them thinking people didn't notice. Well guess what, Jiawa noticed and the start of this year we started 'the face challenge'. Basically less sunnies, more confident shots looking down the lens.

If it wasn’t for taking my own images, I wouldn’t have learned my good and bad side. The beauty of taking your own pictures is you can take as long as you need. You can capture hundreds of images and not feel bad about it! It also gives you so much freedom when you travel. All images in this post I took whilst in Spain last month. It also opens the doors for more collaborations and travel. If a brand wanted to fly me somewhere I can go alone and feel 100% confident I can capture my own content. 

The most important benefit from being a self-portrait blogger (70% of the time) is positive health. After being in an abusive relationship, doing something for me to build my confidence was the best way to heal. I learned to self-love again, recognised my self-worth and have built my brand around taking on the majority of my jobs myself. If it wasn’t for Jiawa and my close friends, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. They believed in me, and that’s what I needed. 

So if you’re tossing up whether to take the plunge and become independent I say absolutely! You can still catch up with your favourite bloggers, Insta husbands and photographers creating awesome work. It just means you don’t have to depend on them for every post.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. It’s very different to what I usually write but as it’s a topic you guys are interested in I thought it was time to talk about it more. Receiving messages on Instagram of creatives also taking the plunge and sending me their work has to be the biggest compliment. It’s empowering and uplifting hearing that it’s encouraged you guys to do the same.

Please keep sharing your self-portrait posts with #stylestructureselfportrait. It’s your first step on your journey to being an independent confident man/woman.


  1. So impressed by you and how to you take your shots!! Need to get the balls to try doing this in NYC

  2. Very inspiring post Helen. I tested the self portrait shots back in Aus, it was definitely tricky.. I am going to start to test it again now that I am based in London. I will also try to do more shots without the sunglasses.
    Thank you for sharing this and giving me that little bit of extra confidence.

    All of your photos are beautiful!


  3. I'd love to know how you edit/filter your images in your next post - such a gorgeous look! XX

  4. This was so so good to read Helen. I have shot self portraits but it was a long time ago now, I really have been meaning to give it another try. I am thinking I might need a new tripod though! Jiawa has been such a huge help for me too, she has a really direct and obvious way of cutting through the BS and setting you straight. It has been such a pleasure to see you grow and become more confident over the course of this year and last half of it in general.
    xx Jenelle

  5. Wow great article. I'm still super nervous about self protraits because I can never get the focus right. I will look into that tripod and a remote for my camera if there is one!! Thanks for sharing babe

  6. Thanks for sharing this Helen! Your post has inspired me to give it another go. Love your images & style x


  7. Looks great, love this sharing so much, thanks!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. From looking at these photos, I would never have guessed you took them yourself. Also, it was so kind and generous for you to share your tips, so thank you so much x

  9. Finally took a break from what I was doing (I'm at work right now, but no one has to know that I am reading your blog, right? ) and read this article that you told me about, on instagram. So empowering!! Honestly I can't wait to receive my tripod ( ordered the second one yesterday because the one that I have is so heavy, really a pain in the back to carry aroun with me )and start practicing my self portrait journey. Big hug :) Alina @girlisart


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