As a wedding photographer, when meeting couples for the first time, the thing I hear most often is me/my partner are really nervous in front of the camera and don’t like having our picture taken??????
From my perspective I totally get it. I don’t like having my photograph taken a whole lot either. (I know it sounds weird right, a photographer who doesn’t like having their picture taken, this guy must be some kind of sadomasochist????) But think about it, of course your going to feel self conscious. Having to stand alone and isolated with someone staring directly at you, possibly even from within your own personal space and then despite all this discomfort you have to try and force a smile and look like your enjoying this horrific torture. Sure I reckon that would make most of us feel uncomfortable.
Whilst it’s possible to fake a smile or a laugh for a picture, it is impossible to fake a moment of pure joy!
I believe that to get the best images of the two of you as a couple, you shouldn’t even be looking at the camera. You shouldn’t be “posing” or actively trying to do anything for the picture. You should simply be trying to love each other as much as you physically can.
As a photographer, I’m a firm believer that how you feel the moment your picture is taken has the biggest impact on how you feel when you see the photograph again. So if you feel uncomfortable, nervous or any other negative emotion, when you look at the image, weeks, months or even years later, that emotion will be how you see yourself. Now imagine, looking back on an image from your wedding day on your golden anniversary and remembering how you laughed so hard because your husband had just told you the funniest, filthiest joke you’ve ever heard, or how you beamed like you were going to explode because he had just whispered the most romantic thing into your ear and at that precise moment never in your life never had you felt more loved. Heck, even if the picture was out of focus and looked terrible I bet you’d still smile everytime you saw it! For me this is where the power and the art of photography lies. This is where the magic happens.
At that precise moment never in your life never had you felt more loved
People often think as a photographer you should have a long list of quick witted gags up your sleeve, ready to make people laugh when they’re having their photo taken. But I think when it comes to the images of the two of you as a newly married couple when you don’t want to look back on your photographs and remember some bad Dad joke I told just to get a giggle. Now that isn’t to say as a photographer, I don’t believe in making people laugh, of course I do, group photos etc sure, just not when doing the images of the two of you.
A lot of the articles I’ve read in various magazines/blogs dealing with “how to nail your wedding photography” often talk about how you pose/stand and how you should practice and maybe watch a few episodes of Next top model or whatever. Really how and where you stand should be down to the photographer. This is related to composing the image and how you as a couple fit within the image frame.
I believe the best way to get an amazing image is to say to a couple very simple instructions. At the start of the shoot I explain, I’m going to pose you in so far as tell you where to stand and roughly how to be, facing each other etc. Now once you are in the pose, I want you to feel free to be together. Laugh, talk, hold each other, really enjoy the moment together.
I might give a few a posing tips, such as try and bring that arm down, or adjust the angle which I’m shooting from to make it more flattering etc. It’s my job to make sure you look as a good as possible. As a couple this is where you should have confidence in the ability of your photographer, that they can make you look your best. You shouldn’t have to worry that you have a double chin, or this angle makes you feel yuk, because your awesome photographer has seen that and corrected it so before they’ve even pressed the shutter so you are looking your very best. If you feel uncomfortable say something.
Remember how you feel the moment the shutter is pressed will stay with you when you look back on the image.
Now once your in position then I step back and watch. Using my experience I anticipate the moment and am ready to capture the frame just as the smile grace’s your face or he holds you that little bit tighter. This is the moment you take your wedding photographs and make them ok or something that really sparks joy. Sometimes with couples who have expressed that they really aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, or earlier in the shoot, I might step back a little further and perhaps use a longer lens. This just gives that extra bit of space and allows you to really focus on each other. At this point you shouldn’t be thinking about me or the photograph, there shouldn’t be anything else, just the two of you. If you share a kiss, kiss with all the passion that your wedding day deserves. Hold each other in celebration of your love. Having already stood in front of your assembled guests, declared your love and had them witness your first married kiss, this moment should hold no nerves only joy. Of your whole wedding day, this is probably the only real opportunity a couple has to be alone with just the two of them so they really moments to be cherished.
On the subject of guests, often these intimate portraits of a couple should be an opportunity for the two of you to be intimate and alone. So your photographer should make this easier, by choosing locations around your venue or close by, where you don’t have all one hundred of your guests watching your every move. Sometimes during this part of the day, it’s easier to have just the photographer and the couple, others it is necessary to have a bridesmaid or two on hand to help with the dress, maybe carry some refreshments or a glass of champagne. The extra helpers (bridesmaids etc) should be conscious and respectful allowing you both to enjoy these moments together and shouldn’t be a distraction or hindrance.
Many photographers, myself included, offer engagement shoots. These are basically an hour or two just taking pictures of the two of you. If you really are nervous about having your photograph taken then this is perfect opportunity to have a go. I find that after an engagement shoot many couples who were nervous beforehand are surprised at how quickly they felt comfortable in front of the camera.