Anxious about having your photo taken on your wedding day? I'm here to help you.
You're not alone!
In my 10+ years as a Lancashire wedding photographer, I've captured hundreds of beautiful wedding days with the loveliest couples out there! One thing I hear more than any other during our initial chats is that the bride, groom or both are anxious about having their photo taken / they always feel awkward in front of the camera / they don't know how to pose / they always look terrible in photos / they're worried about the wedding portraits part of the day. I'm here to give you some top tips on how to manage these concerns, to show you you're not alone in feeling this way and that I promise that not only will it be ok on the day, but that it is very likely you'll actually find that you enjoy yourselves in front of the camera!
Fear of the Unknown
First and foremost - any anxiety about having your photo taken on your wedding day is totally normal. Unless you're a model, work on TV or you're on your 5th marriage it's likely that this is the first time in your life that you'll be followed around by a photographer with a "big camera" for the day. And it's only human to feel a bit apprehensive of the unknown, especially when you don't know what to expect.
You might have an idea of what you think wedding photography involves, maybe from weddings you've been to, maybe from what you've seen on TV or even just from what you imagine it to be like. There are 2 main approaches to wedding photography - a traditional style, and a documentary or storytelling approach.
Traditional vs a Storytelling Approach to your Photography
Traditional wedding photography involves lots of posing, direction, standing in a line and smiling awkwardly at the camera until your jaw aches. If you're feeling anxious about being in front of the camera, I would highly recommend opting for a storytelling or documentary style approach to your wedding photography. Put simply, a documentary photographer stays in the background all day, capturing your day as it happens, with little to no direction. You won't be aware of your photo being taken for the majority of the day, meaning that all the natural, beautiful moments are captured.
For me, a storytelling photographer primarily takes a documentary approach to the day, but also incorporates some family group shots, and also a little bit of time for some relaxed couples portraits. I would describe myself as a storytelling photographer - although I don't love taking a long list of group photos, I think it is important to capture some of these images (as these are so lovely to look back on years down the road and remember when all your family members were together in that moment) and I think having some beautiful natural images of the two of you alone on your wedding day is really important too.
Do you feel self conscious about how you look in photos?
One of the common concerns that I often hear from couples is that they don't like the way they look in photos. Again, this is totally normal as we are so super critical of ourselves, and see things that no one else sees when they look at our photo. By opting for a storytelling or documentary approach to your wedding photography, you are far more likely to love your photos. Your natural smile when you're laughing with your friends and family makes you look so much more beautiful than the Chandler Bing smile that you pull out of the bag when someone points a camera in your direction! A documentary photographer will be able to capture those moments in the background on your day without you being aware that you're having your photo taken.
Also, when you are looking back on these natural moments documenting your wedding day and telling the story from start to finish, those memories and feelings that the photos bring back to you will far outweigh any insecurities you may usually feel when looking at photos of yourself!
Another important point to keep in mind is that usually when someone takes your photo it's a friend with a phone camera, who doesn't necessarily know the best angles and lighting to make those images look flattering - we know what we're doing and how to make you look the best version of yourself!
And another very important point to note here is that on your wedding day, you'll have had your hair and make up done, you'll be wearing your most favourite dress you'll ever wear in your whole life and the excitement and happiness really does shine from your face like sunbeams!
Feel awkward in front of the camera?
A common concern that I often hear is that the couple really want some posed couple shots but they're worried they'll feel super awkward in front of the camera and don't know how to pose. I have a couple of top tips to help you to overcome this!
Choosing the right photographer is key
My first (and most important) tip is to choose a photographer that you can see yourself really getting along with. After all, your photographer will be by your side for your whole wedding day, so to make sure you feel comfortable being your true self around them is really important. Have a chat with them during the booking process and if they put you at ease and you get along well this is a really great start! It's really important that you have confidence in them, so choosing a photographer with plenty of experience will also put you at ease. A photographer who has captured many weddings will likely be a calm presence by your side, gently guiding you through the day which will automatically make you feel more relaxed about your photos on the day.
Try an Engagement Session
My second tip is to book an engagement shoot before your big day. The thought of this may initially fill you with dread but hear me out. An engagement session is the very best way to get to know your photographer before your wedding day - go for a walk and a chat and capture some beautiful images of you both during this exciting era of your life. You will get to see first hand exactly how your photographer works, how they make you feel in front of their lens and this will dispel any of those nagging worries that you have in the back of your mind about how you might feel in front of the camera on your wedding day, because you'll have tried it out already and will realise it's not the intimidating thing you'd built it up to be.
Every time I do an engagement session, my couple are always then so excited to have their photos taken again on their wedding day, and a bonus is that it feels like we're old friends when I show up to bridal prep on the morning of your wedding too!
“We’re not a particularly photo loving couple, but Rebecca really put us at ease in the engagement shoot so we didn’t feel awkward at all. I’m really glad we went ahead with this as it made us both more relaxed and less self conscious on the day of the wedding, so would definitely encourage anyone who’s a little camera shy to go for an engagement shoot.”
Couples portraits - reframe your thoughts
As a storytelling photographer my couples portrait session on your wedding day is really relaxed. Rather than awkward poses and getting you to contort yourselves and smile awkwardly at the camera, its more like 20 minutes of quiet time alone with your new husband or wife, where you get to catch up (if no-ones told you this already, you often don't get to spend much time alone on the day as you're so busy mingling with your guests!) and enjoy being in the moment together. I provide some prompts - for example I might ask you to hold hands and walk a little, I'll make you laugh, but most importantly make you feel relaxed! And in the euphoria of the day, when you finally get to spend a little time alone together, your focus will be right where it should be -not on the camera, but on each other. I pride myself in my ability to read people and make them feel comfortable and at ease and I truly believe this is the only way that you can achieve those beautiful, not-awkward images!
Talk to your photographer!
Finally, if you have any worries about having your photo taken, talk to your photographer about it. We've heard it all before so don't feel silly to ask anything at all and discussing your concerns will make you feel better as they will be able to address your concerns.