So you don’t feel comfortable posing in front of a camera. You are not alone! Almost every consultation I have eventually ends up with the bride or groom saying one of the following:
“I’m awkward in front of the camera.”
“I don’t usually like getting my picture taken.”
“Just please tell me what to do — I’m no model.”
…and guess what? It has never surprised me. I sometimes feel the same way! Just because you are getting married and want beautiful portraits to mark the milestone doesn’t mean you also signed up to be a supermodel. Every couple needs professional portraits on their wedding day, but that does not mean that I am ever expecting my couples to know how create the perfect poses and facial expressions all on their own.
I tell every bride and every groom that it is MY job to make sure they look good. You do not have to know all the ways to stand, move, pose, and smile because I will walk you through exactly what to do. Typically, the photos that you love the most are the ones where you look the most natural. That means that before we even start, I want to give you permission to feel awkward and know that it won’t ruin your photos! This is one of the most crucial parts of your wedding day portraits (or engagement session!), because it helps you to end up feeling at-ease in front of the camera. That’s how we produce portraits you love and feel like you look like yourself!
With that in mind, here are just a few things you can do to feel even more comfortable while being photographed, and therefore look relaxed and joyful:
You are not doing this for yourself. That might seem counterintuitive, because you *want* to have these beautiful photographs from your wedding day. But if you’re having a difficult time feeling confident about your portraits, remember that this is a milestone day! This is what you and your spouse will look back on for the next fifty years to remember your wedding day, and all the emotions that came with it. These portraits are what will be shares with your children and grandchildren so that they can see a glimpse of what your wedding was like, and what you looked like on the day you were married.
This is one of the biggest reasons why you and your partner SHOULD do an engagement session! Doing a photo session together may be something you’ve never done before, so getting to have a practice run with your wedding photographer before the big day (when your nerves are already high!) can be really helpful! If you or your partner are a little shy about showing public displays of affection for each other, I cannot recommend an engagement session enough. Your wedding photographer will want to ask you to things like share a hug or a kiss to be able to give you classic, romantic images with each other. The engagement session gives you the chance to learn a few of those poses and prompts you may be asked to do again on the wedding day, and helps you to feel more comfortable around your wedding photographer in general.
Besides an engagement session, just spend a little time in front of a mirror. How many facial expressions can you make? How many angles does your face actually have? How does it change when you style your hair differently? How does it change when you turn off a light, or flip another light on? Just play with it! I want all of my brides and grooms to realize that they are capable of countless expressions, that they can communicate more than they knew with even just their eyes. Get comfortable looking at yourself and moving your face muscles! I promise just five minutes of this exercise is helpful!
Just like practicing having your photos taken or practicing your facial expressions can be helpful, so can allowing your hair and makeup artist (HMUA) to have a practice run!
Most HMUAs will happily do a trial run of your wedding day hair and makeup! They want to make sure you love the look you chose, and make any necessary adjustments before you get to the wedding day. I always tell brides to choose hair and makeup styles that are reminiscent of their everyday looks, but the “extra-fancy” version. Even so, if you haven’t frequently had professional hair and makeup, you may be surprised to see how different you look at first! A practice run can help you decide if you like the styling, and feel less surprised on your actual wedding day.
This one is SO important! Likely you will get nervous sometime on your wedding day, and nerves can be magnified (or even turn into shaking!) when we have an empty stomach. Try to eat breakfast on the morning of your wedding, and have snacks and water on hand as you’re getting ready to keep your body fueled. You may be surprised by how well it settles your nerves. It may seem obvious, but if you know that you tend to feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating certain foods, just avoid eating those specific things on the day of your wedding. My brides often have a variety of fruits, sandwiches, and crackers on hand as they’re getting ready for the ceremony and photography. On the morning of my own wedding, I snacked on fruit and a small amount of my favorite, light chicken because I know I am at my best with some protein!
Whenever you can during your wedding photography, and the day as a whole, take deep breaths. This will not only help keep you relaxed, but will also help you stay focused and engaged in the direction from your photographer. Additionally, it will keep your smile muscles from cramping. If you have a long list of family photos or a large bridal party to take photos with, this is a big one to keep in mind! As the photographer, I will be reminding you periodically to take a deep breath, and giving your smile muscles a break, but a few breathes of your own along the way can help significantly. Breathing will keep you feeling good and your appearance looking natural!
Take some time to get to know your photographer and the team they’ll have at your wedding if you’re feeling especially nervous. The more you break down any walls between you, the more comfortable you will feel during the session. This is one of the reasons why we have a few conversations leading up to your wedding day! When you converse casually with a photographer, you are also giving us the chance to see you in a natural state. We can then work with you to create natural-looking facial expressions and poses, since we’ve already seen you in your element!