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  • Writer's pictureBL Gilleon

Behind the Self-Portrait: The Inspired Swiftie Selfie

Updated: Feb 14

Welcome, selfie enthusiasts! Today, we'll visit my most recent self-portrait session, which was in part inspired by the global phenomenon herself, Miss Taylor Swift. Brief confession: I am nobody's definition of a "Swiftie," and my knowledge & awareness is based almost purely on headlines. That being said, when Swift was named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year," I happened to see her on the cover, and the photo immediately grabbed my attention.



First of all: kitty! Secondly, what drew my eye wasn't that it was a fantastic photo; in fact the opposite is what stands out. There's little flash and fanfare, the styling is minimal, the pose isn't anything particularly editorial. Because when you're Taylor freaking Swift, you don't need the glitz. Instead, this understated style, along with her classic red lip and starstruck kitter cat, comes across as more personal and raw. To me, this image is telling the viewer that she is enough, without the elaborate setup you'd expect from a pop star. Is there anything wrong with elaborate setups? Of course not! But this looked, to me, relatable and appealing. So with that in mind, I set out to channel my own version of this low-key photoshoot.


Lighting & Background


For a backdrop, I simply used the painted, gray wall of my home studio space. Easy enough! For lighting, my personal style tends to be darker and warmer than that used by Swift's photographers. Their lighting is bright and properly exposed, while I prefer a little moodier vibe in my own photos. I set up my key light just in front of the camera, slightly off-center, raised it high and angled it down toward where I'd be standing, with an umbrella to diffuse the light. This position is similar to, but not quite what's considered "butterfly lighting," and casts a flattering light on your subject that helps define the jawline (eliminates the double-chin).


A woman posing in a black bodysuit and tights, wearing black studded sunglasses and a long string of pearls, looking into the camera

Styling & Props


Let's talk wardrobe. Lacking a team of people whose sole livelihood is based on dressing me, I'm left to raid my own closet, and most days it is nothing fabulous. As someone who spends hours every day editing and creating while hunched over a laptop, my at-home style could best be described as, "Couch Potato Gollum." Taking my cue from Taylor's understated look, I pulled together tights and a long-sleeved bodysuit, and I have to admit, I'm really impressed with how well it worked out!


For props, I briefly considered bringing our cat Franklin into the frame. However, the thought of editing about seven thousand cat hairs off of my black bodysuit was fairly daunting - not to mention, Franklin is an old man, with no time or patience for my shenanigans. Instead, I opted for some really cool studded shades I recently picked up at a local vendor's market, and a long string of pearls. Pro tip: pearls are never the wrong answer. They bring a little something extra to every photo, I don't care who you are or what the vibe is. Also, they give you something to hold and pose with! Posing can be so difficult, especially when it's just you in front of the lens, unable to see what it looks like from the other side. Get yourself a strand of pearls, twirl them around, and bam! Suddenly it's less, "weirdo with too many limbs," and more of an effortlessly modelesque look.


A woman posing in a black bodysuit and tights, wearing black studded sunglasses and a long string of pearls, looking into the camera

In the end, my photoshoot wound up having a few more elements, both physical and stylistic, than TSwift's did - but to be fair, I don't have the super megastar appeal that she does, and my picture isn't launching millions of magazines off the shelves. I still very much enjoyed paring it down to a couple of very basic items, with a very basic setup, and these are some of my favorite self-portraits to date. I try to do them fairly regularly, for the fun of it as well as the practice in lighting, shooting, and editing. If you enjoyed this peek into a selfie session, follow along and I'll post more in the future. Thanks for reading!


A woman posing in a black bodysuit and tights, wearing black studded sunglasses and a long string of pearls, looking into the camera

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