Self-confessed camera-phobe? You’re not alone. Be yourself and let the pros take care of the rest
Having your photograph taken is like getting your hair cut. Even the most confident and sassy among us shrivel up when left alone in front of that unforgiving mirror. Stand anxiously in front of a camera for long enough and the same will apply: you’ll start to wonder how your knees look, whether that microscopic wrinkle at the corner of your eye has grown into a crevasse or if your arms are hanging out from your body like a T-Rex’s.
The good news is that on your wedding day these hang-ups and insecurities are none of your business. Leave the visuals to the photographer – happily, they have a few tricks up their sleeve to get you looking your best.
Frankie says relax. That’s good advice. If you’re uncomfortable, the awkward feelings storming around inside will be plastered all over your face and body. Pensive, lost-in-each-other gazes are a must, but laughs and cheeky grins are equally as important and they rely in part on the comedic talents and wit of your snapper. The first rule of wedding photography? Make friends with the person behind the lens.
“We employ a simple and cost-effective method every time: banter!” explains Russell Hogg, who makes up one half of Aboyne Photographics alongside his wife Laura. “Having a laugh and a conversation with the couple works wonders in creating natural smiles and a relaxing atmosphere. Who would want to pose in silence or put up with some diva behind the lens?”
If you’re losing sleep over how you’ll cope in the spotlight, arranging an engagement or pre-wedding shoot will allow you to face your anxieties head on, without the pressure of the big day itself wreaking havoc on your emotions. “An engagement shoot gives the couple a chance to see what is expected of them on the day and how we interact with them during the shoot,” says Russell.
“All couples are different – that means not all poses work for everyone,” admits Sandra Parris, who also works alongside her other half John as Parris Photography. “For example, if we have a bride who’s really self-conscious about her arms, we wouldn’t pose her with her arms raised, we’d keep them down by her side. Slight adjustments can make a huge difference to the photograph and whether your client is comfortable or not.”
Take the time to briefly communicate any sources of self-consciousness with your photographer. “It is really important to tell us about any insecurities you have,” insists George. “It is unlikely that whatever it is that you’re concerned about is evident to your photographer, so you’ll have to mention it. Most of us have insecurities about some aspect of the way we look, so it is not unusual at all for us to be told such things. The photographer should respect your worries, even if they can’t see any reason for you to have such concerns.”
When it comes to posing advice, it’s easier to be guided on what not to do. “Nobody wants to photograph a bride with a thoroughly rehearsed pre-Saturday-night-out cocked leg and duck pout,” laughs Russell. “We also want you to avoid going rigid like a mannequin. By the same token, you don’t want to be so relaxed that you start to slouch. Be sure to hold your partner, perhaps by the waist. You don’t want to look uninterested, standing there with your arms dangling in front of you, as you kiss.”
According to George, posing is actually to be avoided as much as possible. “Our advice on posing is simple: don’t!” he says. “This is your wedding day. The only thing you should be thinking about is enjoying it with the people who mean the most to you. When you’re happy, you look your best.” Bring on the candid shots!
While it might be the unrehearsed and unexpected images that end up as your favourites, a certain amount of forward planning is essential to ensure you make the most of every moment and that what’s important to you is captured. Deliver a list of must-have shots to your photographer ahead of the day (especially the ones that detail the family and friends line-ups, as these often need to be tackled with military precision), but bear in mind the photographer’s informed opinion too.
“There is no point in hiring a professional if you’re not willing to listen to the guidance we can give you to help the day run smoothly,” warns Sandra. “Certain classical poses are a must for every couple, such as a full-length and a head-and–shoulders shot, with bride and groom looking straight at the camera with their hands under the bouquet, to give a nice shape and composition. These are two shots that are always chosen by the couple for their album and by family members who want to purchase prints. We always get these shots in the bag before we move on to any more contemporary poses, regardless of location, weather or light.”
It’s the main ingredient in pretty much every wedding photograph ever taken – so what do you do if you’re not in love with your smile? Don’t fake it: “A fake smile shows in the photograph,” warns Sandra, “so just relax and try to let it happen naturally.” Russell agrees: “Don’t force it! If you do, it will be obvious to all those who know you.” He has some reassuring words to end on: “We actually find it’s usually the couples who dread having their photos taken that end up with the nicest images.” Happy snapping!