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Scenic selfies: Here’s how to make your self portraits stand out

Selfies: A 13-year-old girl's tips and wisdom

Jamie Hannah,13, of Fort Worth takes us on a tour to find memorable photos around Fort Worth.
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Jamie Hannah,13, of Fort Worth takes us on a tour to find memorable photos around Fort Worth.

A selfie by definition is a self-portrait. However, most people shooting selfies have no professional photography experience.

For any photograph to work, for personal or social use, the shot must be memorable. There are a lot of ways to make your photos memorable — a beautiful background, the right light, a fun setting. In most cases, you don’t even need special equipment, a good smartphone will do the trick.

Here are some tips to make your selfies stand out.

Add action

 
Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth, in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall says, “I love to add some action to my selfies when the scene might call for it.” Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Add action when the scene calls for it. I had my 13-year-old neighbor Jamie Hannah jump in front of this mural at North Main Street in the Stockyards. While it isn’t a traditional selfie, the action in the photo brought life to what would have been your standard tourist shot.

Location: Fort Worth Stockyards, 130 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth

Good to know: Using the Instagram filter “Rise” on this photo gave it a Wild West vibe.

Find the best light

 
Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth on the Trinity Trail near White Settlement Road on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “I used the light from her cell phone to light her face so she wasn't a complete silhouette against the beautiful sunset.” Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Timing is everything. Sunset and sunrise are the best times of day to get the perfect light. During the day, make sure your light source is behind your camera lens.

Location: On the Trinity Trail near White Settlement Road in Fort Worth

Good to know: In this photo, the light from her smartphone illuminated her face so she wasn’t a complete silhouette against the beautiful sunset.

Choose a compelling background

 
Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth, considers the view of the West 7th Street bridge on Friday, March 31, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “I don't always have to have someone's face in the photo to make a memorable image.” Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: The arches of the 7th Street bridge in downtown Fort Worth provide a dramatic back drop for a self-portrait. Using the background to fill your photo adds depth and intrigue.

Location: West Seventh Street bridge in Fort Worth

Good to know: You don’t have to always to use a face in the photo to make a memorable image.

Framing children

  
Top photo: Eva and Laila Estrada, 3, of Crowley in front of the Fort Worth Water Garden on Friday, March 31, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “This portrait by their father Jimmy Estrada of Crowley shows me taking pictures of Jamie Hannah in the background. It is sometimes hard not to have a lot of people in the background at a popular location like this.”Bottom photo: Eva and Laila Estrada, 3, of Crowley pose perfectly for a portrait at the Fort Worth Water Garden on Friday, March 31, 2017. Jimmy Estrada and Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Here are two different views of twins Eva and Laila Estrada, 3, of Crowley, at the popular picture spot, the Fort Worth Water Gardens. The girls’ father, Jimmy Estrada, tried to capture his children’s cuteness in the moment. The problem is the photo is ruined by some interlopers, including me shooting in the background to the left, and the stairwell framing.

Instead, prop your children in a spot that makes them the focus of the photo and allows the background to frame them. Although there are are still people in the background, your eye goes to the smiling children.

Location: Fort Worth Water Gardens, 1502 Commerce St., Fort Worth

Good to know: To avoid tourists walking in front of your photo, prop your children in a spot away from a walkway and shoot up close.

Perfect your perspective

 
Top: The moon in front of Bass Hall on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “We noticed new moon in front of Bass Hall. We came up with an idea to use it in a fun picture.” Left: Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth poses in front of Bass Hall, “holding” an angel on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “It is fun to play with perspective to make creative and fun pictures.” Right: Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth, “holds” a Bass Hall angel and the moon. Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: You’ve seen the photos of people “holding” the Eiffel Tower or “pinching” a statue’s head. Sometimes, the right angle and perspective can be a creative way to add some fun to your portraits. In this series of photos, Jamie noticed the moon in front of Bass Hall in Fort Worth.

We had already decided to play with the Bass Hall angel and through trial and error found the right angle and pose so that Jamie was “holding” the angel in one hand and the moon in her other hand.

Location: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth

Good to know: Believe it or not, all of these photos were shot with an iPhone 7. The Instagram filter “Mayfair” was used in the final photo.

Fun with filters

 
Jamie Hannah at the stockyards on Thursday, March 30, 2017. (IPhone7) I love to use fun posing with fun landmarks for portraits. I used a Hipstamatic filter to create a special effect. Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Using filters is standard on social media, especially on the popular Instagram app. Don’t be afraid to use filters to accentuate your point of view in photos. This photo of Jamie at the Fort Worth Stockyards used a Hipstamatic filter to create a special effect.

Location: Fort Worth Stockyards, 130 E. Exchange Ave. Fort Worth

Good to know: Take your time to find the perfect filter for your setting. If you’re not quite ready to post on social media, take a screen shot of your top two or three filters to compare, then post.

Prop up photos

 
Jamie Hannah, 13, of Fort Worth, brought a doll and a plastic horse she had altered into an art project to the Water Garden on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “I love to include an object in scenic pictures.” Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Adding a prop or object to scenic portraits provides an interesting and unique view. This photo of Jamie at the Fort Worth Water Gardens includes a doll and plastic horse that she had altered for an art project. The picture is not your typical Water Gardens photo, which makes it different and special.

Location: Fort Worth Water Gardens, 1502 Commerce St., Fort Worth

Good to know: This was shot up close and the background provided the angles. Sometimes a straightforward shot with a striking background is better than positioning your camera at an angle for effect.

Silhouettes and shadows

 
Mackenzie Hannah, 10, of Fort Worth, with a spectacular sunset as a backdrop on June 27, 2016. Photographer Joyce Marshall: “Silhouettes are a fun way to create context and a memorable scene.” Joyce Marshall
 
Shadows are sometimes a fun way to capture a self portrait. Joyce Marshall

Pro tip: Another way to play with natural light is to capture silhouettes and shadows. The photo of the shadows was shot at the Fort Worth Water Gardens during the day. The photo of Mackenzie Hannah, 10, of Fort Worth, was shot after a recent rain storm at North Hi Mount Elementary School in Fort Worth. The spectacular sunset framed her silhouette spectacularly and was shot with an iPhone 6.

Locations: Fort Worth Water Gardens, 1502 Commerce St., Fort Worth and North Hi Mount Elementary School, 3801 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth

Good to know: The shadow photo was technically a selfie showing Jamie and me.

Picture your pets

 
Debra Hale and her dog Sassy take a selfie on the Trinity Trail in Fort Worth on May 11, 2016. Joyce Marshall
 
Debra Hale and her dog Sassy. Debra Hale

Pro tip: For the most part, we tend to photograph pets by themselves or with other pets. Shooting a selfie with your pet is a great way to show your bond and create a great memory. In these photos, Debra Hale of Fort Worth and her dog, Sassy, snap a selfie along the Trinity Trail.

Location: On the Trinity Trail near White Settlement Road in Fort Worth

Good to know: It’s good to have a “wrangler” when photographing pets.

As told to Maricar Estrella. Joyce Marshall has been a photojournalist for more than 40 years. She loves capturing moments with her dogs, Jeoffry and Scooter. Follow her on Instagram at @nevadajoyce

5 bluebonnets photo-ops in Texas

 
It is good to have a wrangler when photographing dogs and substitute teacher TJ Owen and 9-year-old boxer Edith Ann followed ST photographer Joyce Marshall to a patch of blue and pink on I20 West on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Joyce Marshall

Taking selfies in a bluebonnets field is a Texas tradition each spring. Here are some scenic spots to try:

1. Ennis Bluebonnet Trails Festival

Ennis is known for its bluebonnet trail, and there’s a festival to prove it. The free, three-day wildflower party includes live music, arts and crafts, and children’s activities. Don’t forget to pick up a bluebonnet trail map. Through Sunday. 101 N. Main St. W, Ennis. www.visitennis.org

2. Texas state parks

With more than 100 parks to choose from, you’ll be able to find some of the prettiest locations without having to worry about your safety taking photos near a highway. Check out the best park spots on this Pinterest board: www.pinterest.com/texasparks/

3. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Here is your off-the-beaten path chance to take photos in a safe setting. Take a guided tour of the gardens, which boasts Texas’ largest collection of native plants. The center is also wheelchair accessible. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 adults, $4 ages 5-17. 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin. http://www.wildflower.org/

4. Burnet Bluebonnet Festival

What? Another festival. This small town was officially recognized by the Texas Legislature as the “Bluebonnet Capital of Texas.” It has lots of activities related to the fest, including 5K and 10K runs, a parade, live music, a car derby and classic car display, and a carnival. The fest is free but some activities will have fees. Through Sunday at the intersection of U.S. 281 and Texas 29. http://bluebonnetfestival.org

5. Highland Lakes Bluebonnet Trail

This is a self-driving tour of the communities of the Highland Lakes. You can get a free map at the Marble Falls Visitor Center, then enjoy the scenery as you make your way around Horseshoe Bay, Granite Shoals, Kingsland, Inks Lake and the Buchanan Dam. Free. http://txhillcountrytrail.com

Maricar Estrella

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