If you feel awkward in front of the camera, believe me… I so know how you feel! It can feel stressful and confusing not knowing what to do. There are a few pieces of advice I give couples before shoots, so thought I’d share some of my best tips below. Hope this will be useful next time you’re being photographed! xx
#1 Communicate without talking.
Sometimes your photographer might ask you to walk away from the camera, and just have a quiet moment together. A wee tip: it’s waaaaay easier to photograph couples who aren’t talking! Instead, see what you can communicate without using words. Is she looking gorgeous? Show her with your expression. Silently compliment each other. You’ll make each other laugh, and you will look absolutely radiant in front of the camera.
#2 Get your heart rate up.
This is a secret I use all the time for headshots and portraits. Cameras make most people (including me) overthink and get super awkward! Instead, I get people to run around or dance until they’re a little bit exhausted… and oh my gosh, you wouldn’t believe the difference. When you’re breathing properly all your body tension goes away. Next time you’re being photographed, try running between locations instead of walking. Dance, spin around… basically anything that feels a tiny bit exhausting. It will let your physical body take over, so you won’t look or feel stiff.
#3 Get close. Closer.
Usually we like to stand about a metre away from people. It feels safe. However, look at any movie close-up of two people. Notice how close their bodies are… and yet how somehow it still looks right. The same goes with photographs. If there’s a gap between you, we ask ourselves why it’s there. Even if you’re just wanting a simple photo of you both laughing, or a photo with parents, get as close as possible to each other. It always looks better!
Confident body language always looks good. If people feel sexy and gorgeous, they’ll also look that way in photographs. However, we New Zealanders are pretty bad at this. We slump our shoulders and try to blend into the background… but instead of looking sweet and demure, it comes across in photos as worried and awkward. One of the easiest tricks with couples I’ve found is to ask them to flirt with each other. Flirting brings out our natural playfulness and confidence, and it is so gorgeous to photograph. Try these ideas: don’t let your husband kiss you until you’ve counted to ten. Slowly do up his tie. Brush a few strands of hair away from her face. Take her hand and begin slow dancing.
#5 Come up with silly ideas.
Fear of failure is the enemy of creativity. If you feel like everything you do has to be perfect, you’ll be stiff and scared – and you’ll never discover the really amazing stuff. Feel free to come up with lots of crazy ideas, and to be as silly as you want. The key is just to keep doing stuff. Failing is fun! I guarantee that not everything you do will look amazing, but a good photographer will be looking for the in-between moments anyway. The moments where you are laughing with joy and playfulness.
#6 Make it your own.
Most non-models need advice about how to stand or what to do. But by the time you’ve been put into the perfect position you can look stiff and totally unnatural. If you’re feeling a bit awkward, you WILL look that way in photos – sorry! My advice is this: the moment you don’t feel 100% natural, break out of what you’re doing, shake it off, and then come back into it in a way that feels ‘you’. It will look waaaaay more natural if you can make the pose your own.
#7 Let go of perfectionism, and try to find the good in everything.
This is my life philosophy, but I also think it’s vitally important in relationships – and photos. I’ve seen so many amazing photos ruined by stress and fear. There’s no such thing as perfect! Have the courage to know that mistakes happen. You are wonderful exactly as you are… imperfections and all. If you’re stressed about your slightly wonky tie, or the green stain on your knee, I just can’t take a good photograph of you. It breaks my heart, but it’s true! The fear and anxiety will show in your eyes, and that’s all the camera will see. Remember that the most gorgeous, happy people don’t have easier lives (often it’s actually the opposite!): they just choose to focus on the things that they are grateful for. xx