Some couples can be shy in front of the camera. Sure, they feel comfortable around each other, but when the photographer steps in, they’ll suddenly seem awkward, botching the perfect moment. However, it is possible to overcome this photoshoot barrier and feel more at ease in front of the camera.
Camera shyness is both a physical and mental state. Being in an uncomfortable environment that triggers anxiety can heavily affect the result of pictures. Even though some scenes are staged, it’s still imperative to capture emotional authenticity. In all cases, there are some things about each of our personalities that are immutable and can’t change, so no matter what strategies and techniques I use with a couple to help them open up, there are times (very, very few) when it is difficult. Afterall, I am not a magician.
Having said that, you should hire someone who is as experienced as possible with people skills, is charismatic and fun to be with, etc., not just someone who snaps photos with an expensive camera and an awesome website. This is why most professional photography (commercial, landscape, nature, etc.) is fundamentally different from wedding or portrait/ couples photography.
Here are a few tips to lessen the tension and make your session, whether a couple’s photo shoot or a wedding, more enjoyable. The more you incorporate and adhere to these suggestions, the less awkward and shy you will feel:
If the fact that you’re camera shy gets you worked up, fret not. The photographer being around you will trigger this response. The good news is that it’s more normal than you realize and it’s okay. Continuously worrying about facing the camera would only get you more nervous making it more difficult for you to get those perfect photos. Which is why it is essential for you to first accept that you’re a camera shy person and be really okay with it!
Having said that, remind yourself that you’ve hired a photographer and paid a lot of money to create memories, and you only get one bite at the apple and one chance at that opportunity (especially if it is something like a wedding). Ten, Twenty, and thirty years later you will be glad that you pushed through, maybe felt a little bit awkward, but it was worth it. The session does not have to be a magazine glamor shot. This is for your own personal memory, so you don’t have to worry about impressing anyone, unless you want to share the photos. If necessary, pretending that these pictures are just for you and your partner always helps couples relax a little bit more.
If you’re visiting this page, you’ve probably already asked me to shoot your portrait session, engagement session, wedding, etc. But if you are currently in the market looking to hire a photographer that will understand and work with your shyness, anxiety or hesitation in front of a camera, it is important to screen your photographer, connect with them, and build chemistry.
A rapport between the artist and subject should be established during the shoot. However, this process is a two-way interaction, so cooperation and proper communication are a must.
Crack a few jokes, banter, have a few laughs, be goofy, share some stories, share a meal, and have fun. This way, you’ll make it easier for the photographers to be part of this important moment in your life and vice-versa.
Photographic authenticity comes out best during uncoached moments. Candid instances when the couple is truly caught off guard often capture the best photos, as it shows raw emotions and unfiltered interactions.
However, being vulnerable in front of a complete stranger can be quite difficult. Fortunately, you can reduce this by having someone crack a joke for an easy laugh or have a friend to talk to while in front of the camera.
So although being coached and directed by your photographer will be helpful, taking candid photos of you being goofy and awkward often creates an amazing, and more accurate reflection of your personality.
Lastly, ask your photographer to begin by taking photos with your back to the camera or take pictures from a distance so that you’re not feeling cornered or claustrophobic. It’s like dipping your toes into the pool.
Turning to Instagram or Pinterest for some photo inspiration is great, but falling into a comparison game can be dangerous. I’ve had couples who get stressed out thinking that they have to do this perfect shoot. Just let it be you. Let this be your experience. Don’t try to imitate or duplicate someone else’s experience. Trust me (I am a professional after all) and focus on what really matters: the love you and your partner share.
If looking at the camera gives you jitters, take your focus off the camera and concentrate on other things. One of the best options? Your partner, of course. I encourage couples to focus on the person they love right in front of them. That’s your safe space, so focus on your person. Get really close to each other. I mean really close and tight. Tickle each other if you enjoy that. Cuddle up and get mushy. Hold hands throughout the session. The photographer will work around you. You don’t have to stare into the camera to get great pictures. Think of it not just as a photo session, but as a date with your significant other. Basically, treat your photographer like a fly on the wall!
Yes, really. There’s nothing wrong with having a little liquid courage before your wedding photos. In fact, I recommend it for couples who feel extra uncomfortable in front of the camera. It gives people their wings, and they’re less likely to be stiff or give their fake smiles.
I always try to give the bride and groom 5-10 minutes after the ceremony to relax, enjoy some of the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before proceeding onto the portrait session. I know this will go a long way at minimizing shyness and awkwardness.
However, if the photo session isn’t at a wedding, keep the alcohol limited. You don’t want to have a bottle of champagne because that can create potentially sloppier smiles and will be unsafe driving home. But just a glass of bubbly sometimes helps people relax. And if alcohol is not your thing, no worries. Get some of your favorite fun snacks and soft beverages.
For the ladies in the house, who doesn’t love a little glam from time to time? Consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done.
An engagement session is a great time to have a “trial” with your wedding day makeup artist. Plus, it’s true that a little more dramatic makeup and hair is often needed in photographs (mascara/eyeliner/lashes as well as lipstick/blush).
Occasionally I have a bride who calls me before or after her shoot, worried that the makeup was too dramatic for her normal taste, unsure of how it will look in photographs. Nearly every time, it actually photographs PERFECTLY when you kick the beauty enhancements up a notch!
It’s not a bad idea to get a manicure, too. Your new bling will be the star in these pictures!
Having something to hold, while being photographed, can help ease the tension for a bit. It serves to divert your attention from the photographer. So, if you want to focus on something else and reduce some of your anxiety, you could incorporate props into the shoot. If you have a pet dog for example, it may be the perfect ice-breaker during your photo session as the attention isn’t immediately focused on you.
The key here is to relieve your stress during the photoshoot with a physical object to interact with, whether it’s scarves, shades, pets, or hats. Bring it with you, the possibilities are endless.
For someone who is camera shy, having something or someone around that calms you down is the best way to deal with the mental and physical stress. Getting rid of your jitters by having your close friend crack a few jokes or your pet distract you is advised. Better yet, choose a location that you know and love will help you exploit the familiarity and comfort you normally feel around that place. And if it helps any, select a private location so that you won’t feel strangers are staring at you..
However, these calming elements should not completely pull the shoot off course. As a couple, you can also increase your comfort by wearing outfits that suits you both and reflects your personality. You don’t want to wear just anything, so please be sure to check out my “How to prepare for an Engagement Photo session” page on my website for important suggestions.
The best couple’s photographer is someone good at communicating. By having a clear line of communication and an openness to feedback, you’ll have better chances of telling each other what you expect from the photo session. Make sure to be open about what you’re feeling and your vision as a couple to decrease tension and shyness. Remember, these moments are fleeting, so make sure that they’re captured well.
So go ahead, tell me what you like and don’t like! I am here to serve you!
Couple photoshoots are supposed to be fun and shared moments with your loved one. Don’t take it too seriously. Have a blast while doing it. Don’t expect each moment to be perfect because it won’t be. Just keep it loose. Be yourselves, and I will do the rest in capturing those treasured moments.
Practicing your poses may seem a little extra, but doing so can greatly help make you feel more comfortable doing it in front of a camera. So plan ahead, imagine yourself at the photo session, google some portrait photos and practice your poses. You can do this through the following:
Posing in front of a mirror can help you find your best angles and lighting. Practice your smiles and poses in front of your mirror together to make sure that you don’t fumble awkwardly when we are together for the shoot:
With your smartphone, you can practice your poses everywhere by doing selfies. The best thing about it is that no one has to see these pictures. Just go all out and explore all your poses as a couple, so when you’re in front of the camera, you can imagine how a certain pose will turn out.
From music, movies, and conversations, all these things can be integrated into the photoshoot to lessen your anxiety. Don’t be afraid to bring these visual distractions to the shoot to calm yourselves.
To take full advantage of the photo session, take a little bit of time with your person to practice what I call, “The Almost Kiss”. This is where you both are intimately close, mouths wide open and not smiling, heads tilted, and lips barely touching.
Practing the dip shot, the twirl, and many other possibilities. We all usually fear the unknown, so by practicing these things and becoming familiar with them take the shyness away, not to mention you’ll be perfectly practiced for the perfect shot!
The art of photography is a powerful means to capture a perfect snapshot that you can have as keepsakes. As a couple, it is important to have these moments immortalized, so you can look back on how far you’ve come and reminisce about those precious times.