There is something about being in front of the camera that can be absurdly terrifying. A literal deer in the headlights moment, only you also have to worry about double chins, and making sure that your cute white sundress hasn’t turned see through in the spring sunshine!
Somehow between the ages of 5 and 10 we become excruciatingly awkward in front of the camera. My childhood self had no issue of posing in her cherry printed bathing suit and heart sunglasses but sometime around puberty I became crippling aware of myself. To be fair almost everyone is supremely gangly and uncoordinated during those years but for many it is the start of a body consciousness that translates into absolute terror in front of a camera. Multiply this self consciousness by ten when you’re in a public place, and you have the perfect recipe for photos that make you want to crawl under the covers and never leave. (Also known as any time I get tagged in a photo on Facebook after a night out on the town).
Despite our collective camera shyness, photos are an intrinsic part of life. Capturing memories, snapshots of our lives and the people that shape us. When I was a kid, we used to play this morbid game of what we’d take with us in the event of a fire. I remember my mother saying that aside from us kids and the dog she’d grab the photo albums. In the modern day, images define our lives even more than ever. Despite the sheer amount of photos we share on Instagram, the unexpected loss of memories can be nevertheless devastating. (Friendly reminder to back up your hard drive). So being able to take good photos, ones in which you feel confident and happy is such a gift. I want to share some photography advice I’ve learned over the course of blogging, avoiding the squinty eyes, accidently appearing like a contortionist and more.
Firstly, you have to trust your photographer. Whether a professional, a parent or a friend- they need to be able to act like your mirror. Sometimes they have to be brutally honest- yes that pose makes your butt look massive or your smile looks slightly homicidal right now. It’s far better to hear in the moment and laugh it off later than get unusable shots. Not to mention it makes it so much easier to get those beautiful candid shots if you’re relaxed and comfortable with the person. Try walking around, moving more fluidly and trust that your photographer will get the shot.
To Pose or Not to Pose? This can be a bit tricky. If done right, poses flatter your body and work with the location to make a stunning shot. Done wrong, and you can look like one of the robots from West World. Avoid at all costs: the sorority squat and locking your joints. One of the best ways to find some easy, natural poses that work for you is to check out what some of your favorite bloggers are doing in their pictures. Blogger Beth Sandland and photographer Kaye Ford recently outlined a few ways to achieve the ‘walking’ shot and avoid the dreaded dinosaur hands in this post. Some of my personal favorite tricks are to stand on your tip toes to elongate your legs in flat shoes and to use your accessories, like sunglasses, to keep your hands occupied. Above all don’t force it, if you feel uncomfortable in a pose then that’s going to come across on camera!
Lighting and Location: two fundamental elements to any photograph, these are especially important for good portraits. The golden hour, just before sunrise or sunset, or overcast days work best. If you’re stuck under the noon sun, then try to shoot within the shadow of a building. Unless I want a very specific location, I try to find pretty side streets for a bit of privacy. Not only does it make it easier to relax but you also don’t have to worry about it taking ages to get a clear shot, or later photo shopping people out of the background. Plus it adds spontaneity and a unique element to the images. If you’re going for a very popular area, it may be worth braving an early wake up call to get there first thing in the morning.
OOTD. You don’t have to be a jet setting fashion blogger or model to wear a fabulous look. Clothing can have such a transformative effect, and so make sure that whatever you wear is something you love yourself in! If you’re not a heels gal don’t wear them- you’ll look like you’re walking on stilts! If short hemlines makes you uncomfortable, mini dresses and skirts are not for you my dear. No one looks good when they’re constantly fidgeting with their clothes. For next level photographs, try to match the vibes of the look with the location. Pair a sundrenched winery with a striped jumpsuit and a straw hat for example. For especially dramatic pieces, move around to show them off. Or you can play with opposites and have a girly lace dress against a grungy city backdrop. Outfits can completely change the mood of a photo and they’re a great way to add some personality to portraits.
PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. With just over a year of blogging under my belt, this is something I am very much working on. For this shoot I met up with the marvelous Lucy Loven, Instagram veteran and lovely human. In between shots, we chatted photography and confidence. Her advice to me was to power through and keep taking photos because ease in front of the camera comes with time. Not even models are photogenic 100% of the time, so if you want good photos chances are you are going to first have to take some not so lovely ones. Anytime I’m talking in the middle of a pic I look like an absolute twit. But looking back, with every shoot I get a bit more comfortable and the improvements in photos from six months ago is astronomical.
Camera confidence is a work in progress, so try not to get frustrated. Photos are supposed to capture the times you want to remember, not be a source of stress. As with many things if you have fun, and aren’t afraid to laugh at yourself a bit, you’ll do just fine. Not to mention any silly photos make excellent behind the scenes highlights. Hope you found this helpful lovelies, share your photos with me on twitter or Instagram stories if you used these tips or just think it will make me grin!
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