Jeannie Thiessen’s Approach To Creating Stunning Self Portraits


If you’ve ever contemplated taking a self portrait you know the worry, stress, and hesitation it can create. Each month the 365 Photo List includes a self portrait prompt as a challenge for us to overcome those worries.

Creative Team Member Jeannie Thiessen has taken on the self portrait challenge with complete energy and amazing creativity.  Each month I look forward to seeing her photo post to the gallery. Through the last eleven months she’s created an amazing collection of photos.

Jeannie shared with me some of her process and what she’s learned in that process.



Me: Jeannie, you take stunning self portrait with such creativity and great technical quality. How do you get such great shots?

Jeannie: I always use a tripod. I have learned a great trick that makes my tripod a must.

  • I decide where I will be standing.
  • I place something on the ground to mark the spot.
  • I set up my tripod.
  • I take my camera back to my spot which is marked and use auto focus. I focus on the tripod.
  • Then put it on manual focus and return my camera to the tripod. Now the distance for focus is set.
  • I set the 10 sec timer or I use my wireless remote and take the shot.


Me: What a brilliant technique! I love that you move the camera to get the focus distance. So creative! What else have you learned in your eleven months of taking self portraits?

Jeannie: I’ve learned to be much more comfortable in front of the camera. I also have learned to be less critical of myself and the features which I don’t love.

Taking self portraits actually gives me a great deal of control over what I want in a photo and what I don’t want in it. We are all beautiful.




Me: You are right. We are all beautiful. That’s such an amazing benefit of taking thoughtful, self portraits.  What’s your best advice for someone who wants to give self portraits a try?

Jeannie:  My best advice is to start by taking a self portrait of a part of you or a feature that you love. We all have something we must like about ourselves. Try to focus on that to start to help you to be more comfortable in front of the camera. It’s amazing how much less conscious you become about your flaws as you practice self portraiture. It actually can be fun and creative. After practicing self portraiture for almost a year I can say that I have decided to love myself more and worry less about what people think of me.

It’s become very freeing.



Me:  Wow! You are truly an inspiration. I have loved watching how your photos sometimes include your face, sometimes they are just your hands or feet. I can see how working in small parts helped you to gain the confidence to include more of you in a photo. I love when you include your beautiful smile!

Here is just a taste of Jeannie’s beautiful work. You can see more in her CY365 Gallery






Read even more tips for taking self portraits you’ll love. 

Do you LOVE Jeannie’s photos? Let her know in the comments below!


  1. Deb Murray

    Thanks for the tips, Jeannie! I almost drove myself crazy today trying to get a photo of something in my hands (before I read this!). I will certainly be using your technique the rest of the week!

  2. Debbie Pepi

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing your tripod trick. I was going crazy trying to figure out how it would work without someone’s help. I can’t Wait to try the bike one.

  3. Well, you just made my whole year with that focusing trick. Bravo and thank you!

  4. Love the post and the awesome tips, I have a question for Jeannie…. I can follow and understand steps used in all the photos except the one on the bike, how in the world? ? ? Can you explain the steps for that one? Is the bike stationary or moving? Timer or remote? I just love that photo! Do you just ride towards the camera and hope one turns out with the timer set? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Tina
      The bike shot was a tricky one but very doable.
      I placed a stick on the ground as my marker.
      My camera was on a tripod using the ten second timer.
      I brought my camera to the spot where the stick was.
      Pointed my camera at my tripod, focused on the tripod using autofocus. Then clicked off of auto and onto manual. Which is on the lens.
      Placed my camera back on the tripod.
      Press the shutter button and the timer begins.
      Got on my bike and slowly ride my bike up to the spot where the stick was. And hopefully you get to the stick at the time the camera shoots. It took a lot of attempts! You can see I’m braking as the shot is taken.
      As you practice you will figure out how long it takes for you to get to that spot as the camera shoots.
      Use a higher aperture so you are more likely to get a better focus. Like f 8. But see what works for you.
      Good luck!
      I hope I haven’t confused you with my explanation.

      • Thanks so much, this is perfect — tells me everything I wanted to know. And thank you so much for the quick reply, I’m so excited to get an answer.

  5. Awesome job! So inspired by your creativity and tips! Thanks!

  6. JeannieC57

    Wow…….your work is amazing…. so inspired… thank you!

  7. Thanks Jeannie for the inspiration – just posted my first self portrait.

  8. I am in learning mode so I guess one of the things I need to get for doing self portraits other than doing them with my IPhone is a tripod. Can you take self portraits without one?

    • You absolutely can! It can be a little trickier, but do able. Try placing your camera on a really steady surface and finding something to focus on where you will place yourself. Then use your self timer and run to get in place!

  9. Wonderful photos! And great tip to try. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Faith Haynesworth

    Your images always look like they were taken by a professional…in fact I remember asking you if you were 😀 I want to thank you for sharing your techniques for us all to grow in our photography. I LOVE your creativity!!

  11. I love your shots Jeannie and thank you for sharing them and your technique. I am afraid of my tripod, but will try to approach it with more confidence…

  12. Thank you so much for this great tip!! Only been doing selfies with my iphone since I couldn’t figure any other way – your tip is amazing!

  13. Jenny Reid

    Your photos are such a inspiration, I would never thought of techniques like yours, so original. Keep us inpsired

  14. Awesome self portraits!! I love all the tips and I’ll give it a try, I love taking pictures of parts and portions, but it’s very difficult to leave the critical thoughts apart 🙁

  15. Awesome self portraits! I love that your shots are outside of the box, and your tips on using the tripod are very helpful!

  16. Very clever technique for seft-portraits. I will definately keep this information somewhere readily available!

  17. Ann Carlson

    Jeannie ~ Love this feature on you and your pics are always so great! You do a great job with selfies and you make it look so easy. Your photography and the things you share about yourself are so inspiring! Thank you:)

  18. Kelly Buss

    Jeannie- Each picture you’ve created is such an expression of you. I love getting to know you more and more through your self-portraits.

  19. Thanks for sharing, both the focusing tip and your amazing photos. Really inspiring

  20. Thank you so much to all of you for your kind comments. I had no idea I was an inspiration to so many…

  21. I absolutley LOVE this post! So many great ideas and such creativity. I hope you do not mind that I shared it on my business facebook page at ! My followers will enoy this post 🙂

  22. Hi Jeannie, I’ve always loved your creations, whether they be your photographs or scrapping. I’m a big fan and miss seeing your work. I have to come visit here more often!

  23. Jennifer Fogle

    Jeannie I can’t wait to try your focusing tip with the tripod! I’m a big fan of your work and I look forward to seeing the beautiful images you post. Thanks for the inspiration!

  24. Thanks for sharing the focusing tip. I usually put something in my place to focus, set the timer and then run and knock it out of place. It never even crossed my mind to change to manual to hold the focus. Your method seems a lot more humane! Thank you!

  25. Tracey Gehring

    This is a great article – thanks Jeannie!! I’ve been wanting a tripod forever now, and now I want one even more!!!! (0ne that will hold my Nikon that is, lol)I’ve always loved your photos, thank you for the inside look at how you accomplish them! It’s very appreciated 😀

  26. Linda Stroud

    I also love your photos. Thanks for the tip on focusing! I’m going to try it. I also admire your knack for lovely lighting. You inspire me to keep trying to become a better photographer.

  27. Simone Ruf

    Well I definitely learned something! The tripod trick is great. I was using a tripod but couldn’t figure out how to focus on myself… you just gave me an aha moment. Thanks so much and I always love your take on the prompts.


  28. Sharon Burrows

    You know I just love your photography and your self portraits are always so creative!

  29. Jeannie –

    I love your photos, as always. The focusing trick is just brilliant!

  30. LOVE YOUR WORK!!!! 🙂

  31. Thanks for the focusing tip! I definitely want to try that out, but am unclear exactly how to go about it. So you press halfway to auto focus on the tripod and then you let go and switch to manual focus and that will keep the distance for the focus? Thanks for clarifying! 🙂

    • Jo, what you mentioned in your comment is exactly what I do. Once you try it, it will make more sense…Sometimes it takes quite a few shots but be encouraged, it does work.
      If it’s too frustrating, I also will sometimes place an object in the place of me and autofocus on it, switch to manual and then place on the tripod and take the shot. Have fun!

  32. These images are so inspiring. I am the family memory keeper and am in very few of the photographs. I am going to take this inspiration and begin to capture ME in the frame. Thanks so much.

  33. I love all your photos! You are unbelievably creative in the way you photograph everything, including yourself. Thanks for the tips!

  34. Love love love you and your self portraits! Wonderful post!

  35. So simple to set up but so effective. Thanks fit the tips and examples. Well done.

  36. jennifer matthews-jameson

    Love Love Love this !!! Your self portraits every month are an inspiration get over the “selfie fear”. Great focusing tip. I would never would have thought of that, what a great idea !!!

    Wonderful blog post Katrina and Jeannie !

    Thankyou ladies

  37. Jeannie your self portraits are always creative and inspiring. Thanks for sharing your tips. I plan to use my tripod more and to try your focusing tip the next time I take a self portrait.

  38. Jean Graham

    Jeannie thanks for the tips. Like Katrina, I have loved your self portraits and look forward to seeing them each month. You are so creative!

  39. Your photos are definitely inspiring Jeannie! Mmmm – tripod – not my friend, but you have given me the incentive to try it again! Thanks for the tip on focusing – love it!

  40. Love your photos and super-love that focusing tip. Almost all my self portraits have a perfectly focused background 🙂


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