This blog post took me a while to write ‘cos I wasn’t too sure about what to say on the matter. Nobody really believes me when I say I’m a bit shy (and especially camera shy). Apparently, it doesn’t really show, which is good…lol. Anyway, I’ve been taking pictures for work for a couple of years now and I’ve picked up a thing or two. I still have bad shots though, so my advice is NOT gospel. But here I am, sharing my tips on how to feel comfortable posing in front of a camera.
Let’s Get PERSONAL!
My personal tips for feeling comfortable in front of the camera, have to do with: (a) helping you feel great on the inside and (b) making you LOOK comfortable. I find that you need both to thrive.
IDENTIFY AND ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR INSECURITIES.
We all have insecurities, and most of the time we’re just scared that it will be photographed for all to see. For me, it was my overbite, forehead and mid-belly section. All things that I couldn’t “get rid off” or I at least wasn’t willing to. So, I had to confront those first. Plus, our insecurities are there even when the camera is turned off, so treat the underlying cause, not the symptom.
REORGANIZE YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS.
Oh my God, I wish I had a straight cure for insecurities, or a shortcut to full self-acceptance, but I don’t. Sorry! It just takes time. What I CAN share are the things I did to drown out the noise.
- First, I said to myself “these things are part of you. They’re the ones you’ve been given. And you’re blessed to have a full set of strong teeth, a beautiful smile and a forehead that houses a very-functional brain.”
- Every time the ugly thoughts arose, I would be reminded of that, and of all the other things I have that are not physical traits.
At the end of the day, the traits that make up our physical appearance are just facts. And I KNOW THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE, especially if your insecurities are not just personal – in your head – but are also a reflection of our warped societal standards of beauty.
We’ll be talking more about this in the future. But, let’s get back to the task at hand…
BE HUMAN & AU NATURALE.
Not literally naked! Please, no! Unless that’s your thing, in which case I say LIVE YOUR LIFE…lol. Do what comes naturally to you as you pose. If you’re not Naomi Campbell-ish, don’t try to act Campbell-ish. Just be yourself. Unoriginal advice?! I know, but, the photo will look more natural that way. Play with your hands, legs, necklace or hair. Walk a little bit, twirl, jump, but nothing forced. Basically, occupy the space you’re in. It’s yours in that moment, so move around and use it.
Before the shoot, practice your angles and poses. See what facial expressions give you the look you want…hello, sexy smirk! Find your “good” side. Look to the left and right, up and over your shoulders. Then try that in some of your shoots.
Shoot near a bench ( e.g. here), a wall, a table, a railing, and sit if you have to. Just use any surface that gives you something to lean on and muddle with. This obviously depends on the person but if you’re a beginner, you may be making life harder by starting out in open spaces. That’s when you’ll find yourself wondering, how do I stand? and OMG what do I doooo? Calm down, I’ve got you! Lean on the wall/bench/railing, rest your arm on it. Look ahead or to the side. Perch one leg on the bench, cross your legs on the chair…you get the idea.
By now, I feel the need to say, a lot of these get better with time. Trust me, I’m a testament to that… Anyway, let’s go on.
USE A PROP.
I remember starting out, I would feel uncomfortable because I didn’t know what to do with my empty hands. So, instead of depending on awkward hand placements (that will SHOW in the photo) you’re better off taking a short-cut by keeping something in your hands. A drink, a hat, a purse, your phone, anything that a human will be seen with naturally. Put your hands in your pockets, place your fingers in your belt hooks etc (another reason why I’m an all time pocket-advocate).
DON’T RUSH THE PROCESS.
If you’re new to shooting. I’d say plan for a longer shoot, and give yourself time to settle into the mood for a few minutes. Take a couple of test shots to begin with – no pressure – and you’ll find that you’ll get more at ease as you go along. And with time you’ll be more comfortable posing in front of the camera.
I would say this is the easiest way to not look uncomfortable or stiff. Sure, you’ll probably have to take a ton of photos at once, but chances are you’ll get at least one great one.
So, just hit the burst button and don’t wait till you’re “ready” before you snap. These photos usually turn out the sweetest ‘cos you’re just being yourself.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER & TRUST HIM/HER.
These are two things that aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s important to have a photographer that you have great chemistry with. Someone who’ll make you more confident and at ease during the shoot. When you find that person, be in the moment with them, relax, breath and trust them. However, all the chemistry in the world won’t make up for a lack of training and experience, so hire a professional OR ask a family member or friend who KNOWS how to work the equipment (phone or camera). Truth is a good photographer will have both qualities.
Tips for Public Shoots (Bloggers, Models & Co.)
FOCUS ON THE WORK. Realize that it’s not as strange as you you think it looks. Most people aren’t judging you when they see you work. They’re mostly curious. It’s a bit odd to see someone posing in public spaces so eyes tend to linger, but they move on pretty quickly and then forget they even saw you. You also most likely won’t see them again, so get your images.
It may sound weird, but for me it’s easier when I’m shooting in something extravagant (NOT REGULAR CLOTHING) that’s obviously styled. I imagine in that case most people think “she’s probably doing this as a job or something” but really they don’t care as much as I think they do.
TIMING. Shoot early in the morning or later in the day…not too late, obviously. There are two reasons for this. One, the lighting is better right after sunrise and right before sunset. Two, there are fewer people around at that time, so no huge crowds to limit the space or make you feel uncomfortable. If you’re starting out, then you probably want to try this tip first.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Go out to places with people an shoot. Is this contrary to the previous tip? Yes! Is it one of the quickest ways to get over the fear and anxiety of shooting in public? Absolutely! Sometimes, I like to rip the band-aid right off; other times, I let it soak. Do what works best for you at whatever phase you’re in.
ASK FOR PERMISSION & BE CONSIDERATE. This is specifically for those of us who want to shoot in public spaces that are owned by others e.g. restaurants, stores, museums or wherever. You’d be more at ease and will feel less rushed during the shoot if you ask for permission to use the space, and are considerate of the other people using the space. So, three basic tips I use:
- give a heads up
- work for 5-10 mins tops
- buy something
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, then you know this is one of my favorite reminders. Be kind, gentle and patient with yourself. Practice makes perfect, and I use that term “perfect” loosely. Chasing perfection is no fun so save yourself the hassle. Give yourself time.
I’ll end by saying this…It may sound generic, but it takes us all a bit of time to get perfectly comfortable in our own skin. Honey, fake it till you make it. Of course, it’s easier for some more than others, but there is still just ONE OF YOU and that is the best one made. It may not seem like it and you may not always feel like it but you’re unique. I’ll say again and again and again…Be patient with yourself, and not just with the photos thing…but in life in general. I hope you feel the warmth of my heart as I send this to you, and know that with all things PRACTICE really does MAKE PERFECT.
I hope this helps you, whoever you are and wherever you are in your journey. Let me know what you think in the comments and I hope you’ll share this post to whoever needs it.
Tell me, what are some of your tips?