This is part one of a three part series giving you practical tips on how to feel more confident whenever you’re in front of the camera.
Without a doubt almost every single person I photograph says to me at some point leading up to or during our session –
“Kate, I hate having my photo taken”
I totally get that! Me too, sometimes! And yet, a lot of the people I photograph, myself included, sit well inside the selfie generation, so I know there’s something else that leads us this way.
And of course, when I photograph weddings the bride and groom specifically want photos with their guests. You know, to help them remember all the amazing people that came to celebrate with them. There are always people who actively avoid me, in group photos I am always calling people out because I can’t see them. And sometimes there are people who even get a bit aggressive at the idea of having me take their photo. Seriously!
So what’s up with that?
Being photographed can be one of the more awkward things you’ll do (and one of the most important things, too). Particularly in situations when you don’t really know who’s photographing you, and when you have almost no control of how they see you. Being photographed seems to open up a huge sense of vulnerability in many of us. It’s a feeling of being really seen. And that’s uncomfortable sometimes.
And then there’s the anxieties of what the hell do I do with my hands?! What is my face even doing?!
But it doesn’t have to be as bad as all that. In fact being photographed can be and is a whole lot of fun. If you read my last blog post you’ll know that I’m all for capturing the natural moments as they happen, but there are times when you just want or need a good old-fashioned group photo too. And I definitely understand that feeling of helplessness in front of the camera – it can be a challenge for anyone.
So to help you get through that photo angst and enjoy the experience of being photographed (and especially for the times when you don’t have a lot of choice about it!), I’ve put together a toolkit and a few do’s and don’ts to help you feel more comfortable in front of the lens. This is part one of a three part series – stay tuned over the next few weeks for the following instalments!
But before we continue I need to issue a warning – please, please don’t get caught up in the posing intricacies that you forget to be present in the moment. Being in the moment and enjoying what you are doing are by far the best ways to feel comfortable and get great looking photos.
Alright, let’s get started.
The Physical Stuff – Posing
- Spend some time to figure out your best side – next time you’re brushing your teeth or doing your hair, take some time to really examine your face. Do you have a side that you prefer? No, it’s not the back of your head. What does it look like when you tilt your head on different angles? What do you look like when you tilt your head up and down? Being aware of your angles means that your hit rate for photos of yourself that you actually like will be way higher, and that can’t be anything but good! If you’re struggling to figure out what looks good, take a look through the selfies on your phone (we all have them!). Take note of the photos you love best – usually you’ll find that you tend to favor one side over the other, certain angles over others. This is a good chance to have a bit of a play too, take some photos and compare the differences to find out what you prefer.
Pro Tip: Bringing your chin forward and down a tiny bit will not only carve out your jawline but will bring your eyes a bit closer to the camera making them look bigger and beautiful…er
- Speaking of angles – generally facing your body 45 degrees away from the camera results in the most flattering pose. Shift your body weight away from the camera, pop your hip and keep a wee bend in the leg closest to the photographer. But what do you do with your hands? Read on!
- Bendy Bits – as a general rule, anything that naturally bends (that’s your joints, people), probably should – just gently, mind! Pulling the flamingo makes for an epic profile photo (especially in a wedding dress), but it’s probably not what Nana wants to see in her thank-you card (unless it is, in which case contact me ASAP and let’s talk about your flamingo themed wedding!) Keep those hands relaxed and if you’re really feeling weird about it, think “ballet hands”.
Pro Tip: Give your hands something to do. Guys can get away with popping their thumb of one hand in their front pocket. Girls, take advantage of what you’ve got and throw your hand high on your popped hip. You’ll be golden, as long as you don’t do both at once – otherwise you’ll be channeling a cowboy/wonder woman vibe.
- Don’t forget to breathe! For some reason when we’re lined up by the lens we freeze and hold our breath. Our shoulders start creeping up to our ears, our hands go all weird and puppetty and our smiles become all stiff. It happens to almost all of us. The easy solution? Just breathe – drop your shoulders down push them back a little, shake out your hands, take a deep breath and exhale through your lips. This will help you to relax a little, regroup and reset.
This brings me to part two – next time I’m going to be getting into some practical tips about the Emotional Stuff when it comes to feeling comfortable in front of the camera. It’s a big topic and I’m excited to get into the nitty gritty!
In the meantime:
- Tell me in the comments: Which tip will you be putting into practice straight away? OR What makes you most uncomfortable about being in front of the camera? (I’d love to help you, so let me know!)
- Share this post with your friends if you found it helpful!
- Head on over to Part Two!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and as always if you have any questions feel free to let me know in the comments.