The Camera Shy’s Guide to a Portrait Session

Not the photo kind of girl? Here’s how to cope with (and even enjoy!) your time in front of the lens.

  • Story by Photo Benjamin + Elise Photography

Not the photo kind of girl? Here’s how to cope with (and even enjoy!) your time in front of the lens.

You’ve perfected the art of shuffling to the back of group photos, and you’re more familiar with Facebook’s ‘untag’ button than any other on the internet.

What to do, then, on your wedding day – a day where, on a scale of worst-case scenarios, lifeless photographs seem to rank just below forgetting to hire a celebrant or a bridal party member not showing up? It starts with recruiting a true pro, says photographer Jody Lidstone.

‘Choose someone whose aesthetic you love,’ she says. ‘But also make sure you connect with them on a personal level.’

Auckland photographer Amanda Wignell concurs.

‘You need to be relaxed with your photographer – it’s the key to feeling comfortable and confident in front of the lens.’

It sounds easy enough, but how do you find your miracle camera-bearer? Jody says a face-to-face meeting is important: talk about your concerns, point out photos you love, and suggest ideas for locations and aesthetics.

‘Initially I meet my clients before booking, often at their home. They feel comfortable in their own space, and it gives me an idea of who they are,’ she says.

Once you’ve found your photographer, an engagement shoot acts as a good trial run – you’ll discover what angles work for you and feel what it’s like to be in front of the camera.

For added confidence, former model and talent agency owner Amanda Betts suggests practising your poses.

‘Stand in front of a mirror, close your eyes and pose in a way that you envision yourself wanting to look,’ she says. ‘Then open your eyes to check if you’re happy with how the pose actually looks. Check how your arms are positioned, for example. Are they pressed so hard against your body that they resemble ham hocks? And don’t push your head back like a turtle retreating when a camera is thrust in your face – move toward the lens!’

If you’re still feeling nervous, it pays to have some big day relaxation techniques up your sleeve, says Amanda.

‘I call it “separating your body”,’ she says. ‘Relax your limbs by rolling your shoulders backwards and forwards, swinging your arms, shaking both legs, then taking a few deep breaths and relaxing your shoulders down.’


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