I dont know about you, but when I know a camera is pointed in my direction, I turn into an awkward spastic ball of limbs. I usually resort to dancing badly or ‘photo bombing’ myself – yes, it can be done, but it takes skill and years of practice. Maybe I’m thinking about whether my ears look too big (there was that time when I was a kid when I was referred to as ‘Dumbo’ due to an overwhelming ear to head size ratio in a particular school photo) or I’m wondering if my teeth are showing when I smile (“You have such huge teeth!”).
We all have our insecurities. Some of us are better at hiding them than others. The majority of my wedding clients, either one or both members of the couple, often tell me that they feel uncomfortable or awkward having their picture taken. They express their discomfort in statements ranging from, “We aren’t people who like having pictures taken.” to “My fiance hates being photographed. You may have to help me restrain him for photos!” Maybe they come to me because they recognize me as one of their own. Or perhaps they see in my photos that my own anxiety over feeling awkward in photos has translated to me taking extra care in making people feel comfortable when I photograph them.
How do I make people feel comfortable? Well, I don’t tell couples to “Just relax!” Anyone who has felt anxious or awkward about something realizes that being told to ‘relax’ has pretty much the opposite effect than is intended. Relax? How am I supposed to relax? I feel like I have eight arms right now and they’re all moving in different directions!!! You’re telling me to relax? HOW ABOUT YOU RELAX?!?!?
Sorry, I got a little worked up there for a moment. Where were we? Oh, yes…
How do I make people feel comfortable? Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve…
The feeling of anxiety that comes from having your picture taken, when you’re especially self conscious, can be paralyzing. How do I look? What are people going to think when they see this photo of me? The mere act of having your photo taken is stress inducing, even on what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. This is where having a rapport with your wedding photographer is crucial. Couples I’ve worked with constantly tell me how the engagement photo process helped immensely in making them feel relaxed on the day of the wedding. They got to see that I was ‘easy going’ and ‘relaxed’, and that the process was ‘painless’!!! I know the pain they’re talking about. It makes me feel amazing to take it off their shoulders. They show up on the day of the wedding feeling 1000% more comfortable and since I’ve had the chance to work with them already, I can tell when they start to feel awkward and nip it in the bud immediately.
If you’re like me, and your mind begins to focus on something that makes you anxious, it can be very difficult to break out of that cycle. You need to think about something other than having your picture taken. This is why I often give couples a topic to discuss, a word game to play, or something that gets them to focus on one another. Not only is your relationship to each other what the day is all about, but it gets your mind to focus on your partner – not the picture. I’ve got the picture part handled. You don’t need to think about it.
This one is intertwined with focus, since if you are DOING something, it is more difficult to think strictly about having your picture taken. Dancing, walking, skipping, holding hands, riding a bike, reenacting a scene from your favorite movie…they get you moving. Being stuck in one position gives you time for your mind to creep back to feeling awkward.
If you are planning your wedding and worried about looking awkward in your pictures, or just stressed about the picture taking process, drop a note in the comments. Tell me what you’re concerned about. I’m here to help!