When I sit down with a couple to discuss what they are looking for in a wedding photographer, nine times out of ten one of them will inevitably tell me that they feel anxious or awkward in front of the camera. I usually pick up a bit of shame in their voice as they share this vulnerable piece of information with me as if they are telling me that my job is rendered useless because of their genetics. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In this blog, I will be discussing why we feel awkward when a camera is on us, as well as some strategies to help manage the anxiety of being photographed.
One of the reasons why we feel awkward in front of a camera is because when it’s on us, everyone else disappears. That is, we become fixated on ourselves and our own insecurities. Feeling insecure is a universal experience, and is a part of what makes us human, so I’m not going to give you some watered-down attempt at making you love yourself more. But I want to posit this one thought about your wedding:
You are marrying the person who loves you more than anybody else on this planet.
Please please let that fact sink in. The sheer fact that you are even having your wedding photos taken in the first place is rooted in the truth that somebody thinks you are hot shit! So here’s my first tip for how to not feel awkward in front of the camera:
Number One: Let your partner feed your ego
Any experienced photographer knows how to leverage the relationship between you and your partner to build your egos and alleviate any insecurities you may be feeling. But even if your photographer doesn’t do this, practise sharing compliments with your partner while you are getting photographed. Sharing small affirmations such as “My favourite body part of yours is…” builds intimacy and yes, confidence.
The more you are able to let go of any self-consciousness, the better you will feel and the more authentic your photos will be.
Number Two: Focus on your partner
When you are having your wedding portraits taken, your attention should be entirely wrapped up in your partner. By chatting with each other, or sharing displays of affection, you are setting yourselves up for a more immersive photo experience. As a wedding photographer, my goal is to always look for the ‘gold’ in a relationship and then work to keep uncovering what is already there. Let me illustrate some different types of gold…
Some couples are very “touchy-feely”. They express their affection for each other through holding hands, stroking, small gestures etc. This type of dynamic between couples is quite easy to photograph and often requires very little guides from me.
However, some couples prefer to express their affection through jokes. They make each other giggle, or keel over in a complete fit of laughter. Again, this is a very easy (and entertaining) dynamic for me to photograph. Leaning into this style of affection means your photos will probably have a lot of genuine smiles and eye contact.
For the quiet couple, affection is often felt rather than shown. This is a beautiful dynamic, and allows for the photographer to experiment with imagery that is less people-focused and more artistic in its expression.
Number Three: Practise!
Practising makes perfect. Book an engagement shoot with your photographer prior to the wedding to get a feel for what it will be like on the wedding day. An experienced photographer will give you a taste of what kinds of prompts and poses they like to use, which might help you feel more confident on the day as you can anticipate your photographer’s vibe and approach.
Similarly, practise wearing your wedding clothes. What we wear makes a massive impact on our self-esteem on any given day, and if you feel uneasy or uncomfortable in your clothes then your photos will show. Become an expert in walking in your new shoes. Learn the limits of how much you can stretch your arms out. Being able to predict how your attire will affect your posture and body language will make a big difference in your portrait photos.
In conclusion, the most important thing when it comes to authentic wedding photos is to focus on being yourself. If your photographer asks you to do something that feels awkward or inauthentic, it’s best to speak up and let them know. Only you know how you feel. And it’s worth putting in the effort because your wedding photos will last a lifetime!
- Let your partner feed your ego.
- Share compliments with each other during the session.
- Try focusing on your partner as much as possible
- Practise getting your photo taken together