You know what I get told in every single phone consultation??
“I just want to let you know, we are really awkward and we are probably even more awkward in front of the camera. I am so sorry, I just wanted to tell you ahead of time so you’re prepared.”
Yes, I get told that from every single couple that chooses to hire me for their wedding. You know who I’ve never actually worked with…?? Models. I’ve never had a professional model couple in front of my camera. All the photos you see from me are of REAL PEOPLE!
So why am I telling you this?? You’re probably preparing for your engagement session that’s coming up soon and you’re also probably feeling really nervous about what it’s going to be like. You don’t want to mess up and you especially don’t want to look awkward.
Well, have no fear. Because again, every couple I’ve ever photographed has had the same fears as you.
However, it is time to KICK THOSE FEARS IN THE BUTT and dominate your engagement session!
That’s right! I am sharing with you my best tips to get rid of all that awkwardness you’re feeling so you can show up to your session more confident than ever.
Meet or Call Your Photographer Before Hand
Relying on a stranger to take your photos can be a little scary. A lot of people feel really vulnerable during their sessions and they want to make sure that they can trust the person in charge. Your photographer is responsible for creating a safe space and allowing you to feel free and relaxed. The best advice I can give to combat that awkwardness is to try and build a relationship with your photographer beforehand.
Finding the perfect photographer can be tricky but definitely not impossible. (check out my blog post on finding your perfect photographer here!) The best thing you can do is set up a phone call or meet up before you decide to book them so you can see if they are the right fit for you. Follow them on social media and engage with their posts. Sending messages back and forth will help both parties feel encouraged in the relationship. You don’t have to become best friends (in fact you shouldn’t expect your photographer to be your friend outside of business) but feeling like you guys actually have a relationship and somewhat of a friendship helps you to feel better and make your experience working with them a breeze.
Take The Day Off From Work
Something people don’t realize that can greatly affect the mood for everybody is if you show up to your engagement session carrying the weight of an exhausting day at work. Make sure that you are in the best mood leading up to your session by having a great day! That means take the day off work, sleep in if you want, mark a couple things off the to do list, go to lunch, basically whatever helps you feel relaxed. You want to have as much positive energy as possible for the session in the evening.
This is especially helpful for me since I try to read all my couples, and determine the best way to approach their session based off of the vibes they’re giving me. For example: let’s say you’re a really goofy couple and picked me as your photographer because all my couples are laughing in my photos but then show up to your session tired and grumpy. I’m probably not going to try a bunch of goofy poses because your mood says you don’t WANT fun or goofy. That’s not the vibe you’re giving off… make sense?? Basically I like to read the room, and if the room isn’t happy then everybody else can feel it too.
Listen to Your Favorite Music On The Drive
The drive to your session can feel like you’re about to go on a first date. The butterflies are flying and there is no calming them down. Rest assured that you’re not alone. I get nervous before meeting up with my couples sometimes too! The best thing to do is try to relax your mind and distract yourself from all your thoughts. How do you do that??… MUSIC!! Turn the music up and jam to some of your favorite songs. Make sure you pick music that makes you feel excited and puts you in a good mood. The more fun you have, the better! This is your chance to loosen up and get all the wiggles out so you feel like you’re not afraid to just be yourself!
Wear Something You Love
Your clothes have more of an impact on how you feel than you probably think. If you don’t feel comfortable and confident in your clothes then you’ll definitely be that reflected in your photos. Your clothes should reflect who you are, not necessarily what your best friend with a better fashion sense thinks looks really good. If it doesn’t quite fit right or isn’t something you would actually wear then it doesn’t really matter how great you look in it, because your body language won’t reflect that. We want you to emit QUEEN BEYONCE vibes! Make sure that your clothes contribute to that!
For my best tips on choosing an outfit check out my What to Wear Guide!
A Little Liquid Courage Beforehand
Nothing wrong with getting a little outside assistance if you’re feeling like the nerves just aren’t going away. Take a couple quick shots before we start to help loosen you up. Or, take advantage of the opportunity and incorporate it into your session! Give a toast, pop a bottle of champagne, shotgun a beer, or whatever sounds fun for you. Doing something fun like this will definitely kick your session off to a great start!
Talk To Each Other
There’s no reason for you guys to sit in silence while I take photos of you. The best way for me to actually photograph you guys being yourselves is to actually BE YOURSELF! Talk to each other! Your partner is supposed to be the person that makes you feel safe, helps to calm you, makes you laugh, and puts a smile on your face. Let that natural interaction happen.
Lean on each other when you’re feeling nervous, talk about your favorite T.V. show, share some inside jokes; you can even talk about how you’re nervous and feel awkward! As long as you’re smiling, laughing, and enjoying time with your partner, your engagement session will go so much more smoothly.
Include an Activity
Sometimes, no matter how confident you are, it is still awkward with a camera pointed at you. What you need is a good distraction. Including an activity in your engagement session can be the perfect thing you need to help conquer your camera shyness!
Some of my favorite activities people have done are things like off-roading, swimming in the lake, setting up a picnic, or going on their favorite hike. Some couples have even wanted photos documenting a new experience like a hot air balloon ride. Or, take the focus off of an activity and instead put it on each other by reading letters to get a little more sentimental. There’s so many things you can do that are great as a distraction from the camera and will help relax you since you’ll be enjoying something that you love. Adding in an activity will also help to make your engagement photos unique and stand out from everyone elses’. Personal touches are absolutely encouraged when I’m in charge and you really can’t go wrong with even the smallest of ideas.
Laugh Through The Awkwardness
You know what looks a lot better than blank, uncomfortable faces…? LAUGHING! Whether you’re laughing because you’re nervous or laughing because something is actually funny, the camera doesn’t know! Laughing lightens the mood and helps your body feel a lot better. It’s like in high school when everybody couldn’t help but laugh in anatomy whenever someone said the word “penis” while you were learning about the reproductive systems. It’s weird… but IT WORKS! So while you’re actually trying to cover up that you’re uncomfortable, you will also end up actually relaxing yourself and making yourself feel better. So no matter what, just keep laughing through the awkwardness and those will probably end up being your favorite pictures.
Don’t Overthink, Trust the Process
I know, I know…. A compulsive overthinker is telling other compulsive overthinkers to stop overthinking, but for real… stop it. Even reading this blog post you may find yourself thinking “oh my gosh this is so much to remember”. It’s crucial to remember to slow down and focus on the things that are actually important.
A lot of the instructions I give during sessions are just suggestions, and overthinking about all of it is just gonna end up stressing you out. The biggest thing I always say is just be in the moment. Stop worrying about all the little things like where your hand is or where you should be looking. If something looks weird then I’ll tell you and offer advice to fix it. When you overthink you are resisting being present in the moment. When you feel yourself overthinking just take a deep breath, look into your partner’s eyes, and come back to the present. Enjoy the time you’re spending together and be grateful you have each other to lean on.
You may notice that leading up to your engagement session, you start to feel pressure to look a certain way. You want your photos to turn out great but you’re nervous that you may do a bad job. I want you to take that thought, write it down, and literally burn it in a fire because we are gonna get rid of that negative energy right now!
Nobody expects you to be anything that you’re not. Don’t try to act like a model, because you’re not. Just like Bruno Mars said, “ Girl, YOU. ARE. AMAZING! JUST THE WAY YOU ARE”. I want to photograph the real you! Not a version that you think will look good in photos. I don’t want you to hold back or change anything about you. I want you to come exactly as you are, because when my couples trust me and they show up as themselves, that’s when the real magic happens!
Lots of Movement
Being a stiff robot is awkward… even if you’re not in front of a camera. You want to look effortlessly natural in your photos?? The way to achieve that is through movement. This basically means to take a pose I give you and apply whatever movement feels natural to you. This can be things like kissing cheek/temples/forehead, swaying back and forth, playing with your hair, etc. Even though most of my poses are action based, you’re still going to want to improvise and do things that feel natural for your relationship. And as an added benefit, this will also help to make your final gallery bigger! (Imagine if I give you a pose and take 10 photos. If you stay still, I will choose 1 out of 10 photos because they’re all the same. If you incorporate movement then you’ll probably get more like 5-6/10 because they’re all a little different.)
It’s important to note that this may feel awkward at first, but once you get into the groove of it you’ll start to realize that it actually eases you. This helps to make you feel less like a mannequin and more like a normal human, which I think you can agree is a good thing. 😂
After years of taking photos, I’ve seen what makes some pics great and others seem…uncomfortable. The couples that trust the process, trust me to make sure they look fantastic, and radiate positivity always end up with AMAZING photos to show off to their friends. Even just a few of these tips will help you feel less insecure of yourself, and bring out that confident, beautiful you!