How I Help People Feel More Comfortable in Front of the Camera
How I Help People Feel More Comfortable in Front of the Camera
Let's Get Some Things Clear First!
Let me just start with this - I don't believe in the idea that people don't photograph well. I think it takes skill, and a certain way of seeing. If you are open to seeing beauty, then beauty will be found in all things. People, who shy away when faced with an observing look of the camera - close their petals and hide their beauty. Like a wild creature that dashes into the hedge as soon as it senses the presence of a human being. The creature flees, because they don't trust the human. It's the same with the camera. That's why it's all about creating trust.
95% of the people I photograph are not confident in front of the lens. A lot of them worry about how well they will do, and that's ok - it's a very very common worry. But that's where I come in - I am used to it, I have methods & an approach to photography that is relaxed, and part of my mission is to help you feel as comfortable as possible. And I understand what it feels like to be on both sides of the lens.
At the same time, I'm not a magician, so if you have real difficulties with your self image or have extreme anxiety - it may be more tricky to have you fully relax, but it's not at all impossible! Just because you're nervous, it doesn't mean that you can't still absolutely rock your session. If you can trust me, it could even be a really healing experience when it comes to your self-love and body image. But I'd like to delve more into that particular aspect of photography in another blog post!
Now let's cover the basics, bust some myths & explore what it's really like to have your pictures taken by me.
It's All About Trust
Before a session, people often have various ideas about what's expected of them, what looks and what doesn't look good. You may think that you need to know how to pose, or which side of your face is 'a good side'. Scrap all that. The only thing I need you to do, is to trust me! I feel so blessed to be the person that gets to spend a couple of hours being in the presence of another human being, simply being a human being on this planet. Or to be there to see two people share a life together. It fills my heart with joy. And my camera - it's an extension of my eyes & heart. So trust it to see what I see - magic.
You're far more than a face with the good, the bad, and the ugly. You're far more than a Client Nr. X to me as well. You're a person, with your own unique look, character, dreams, mission & a reason to be there. When I photograph you, I want you to let go of control. Let go of worrying how you look and what you're doing, and know that it's my job to worry about all that. All I need you to do, is be yourself. Of course, I know how to work the angles, what light is the most flattering, and I will tell you if you're holding your arm in a way that makes it look stiff and awkward. I'm there to be your best pal - I've got your back. But that's all just details. I'll pull that stray hair off your face when it doesn't give off a romantic, wind-swept vibe, but sometimes - I'll just want you to let go, get messy, and I'll be there to embrace that. Because I look far beyond the surface, and embrace the in-between and not-so-perfect moments!
I'm there to show the shine of your spirit. I want to highlight who you are, not just how you look. That scar you're afraid to show anyone? It tells a story about what fires you've walked through. Those curvy hips you've been judging - they hold a strong character. I will not want you to hide yourself from me. I'll ask you questions & want to get to know you, I'll look for your story in your eyes. And in those moments when you're not aware of me, lost in a moment or caught up in the sound of the wind - I'll seek to capture your character.
If you follow what I do and have known me online or in person, then you know I'm not one to be afraid of sharing what's in my heart and asking real questions. If you have worries about something - let me know, this way we can address them before or whilst we shoot. I'll want to know what's on your mind, so I can help or reassure you.
The Unphotogenic Myth
When I speak to people about what worries them most about having the camera pointed at them, what comes up a lot is the fear of being judged. And I get that! I'm an introvert, and can be quite shy, so I do know what it's like to not be comfortable when someone is paying such close attention to you. But that's why it's so important to work with someone you can trust. We have to remember that most of the time we're our harshest critics. I don't look at your 'imperfections' in the same way as you do. You know when your loved ones admire an image of you that you're not confident about? That's because they see you with love, not judgement. They see the beauty of you, and it can be as simple as your physical beauty, but it always comes with more than that - they see YOU. And I see YOU. And to me - you're beautiful.
Now, another thing to remember is that when your mum flashes you with her point-and-shoot, whilst you're eating breakfast in a terribly lit apartment, and you're feeling kinda grumpy, do not assume the image turns out somewhat embarrassing, because you don't photograph well. There's no such thing as photogenic and un-photogenic people. There's good and bad photography. There's bad light, poor angles, and poorly picked moments. Always remember, it takes a village to build a Beyonce. No one, and I mean what I say, no one looks perfect at every angle and in every frame! After each shoot, I will carefully select the best images & get rid of all those with half-closed eyes and weird in-between expressions. Trust me with that process, I don't judge because I know how easily anyone can look their absolute best in one moment, and ridiculous in another. For me, it's just a normal part of the process. People are constantly moving - when we talk, when we're lost in thought, our faces are always changing. I'm not going to show you the back of the camera during our shoot, because you don't need to see the bloopers. At the end of the day - I'll select & edit the images that look best, but also make me FEEL the most. Because those are the ones where your character really comes through.
It's All About Enjoying the Experience
The reason I love photography so much, is because for me - it's a way to embrace the magic of life. And the magic is in the little moments, the way the light ripples across the water, the way you stroke the skin of the person you love, the way you smile when you think no one is looking. I want people to enjoy that magic, too. So treat a photoshoot as an adventure. It's an opportunity to go & climb hills at sunset, or run barefoot into the sea at sunrise. It's a chance to explore, connect and have a beautiful day on this planet Earth.
We can grab a coffee before we start, or a celebratory drink afterwards, we can chat about our lives, our stories, favourite tv shows, best places we've ever been to, etc. It's all about having a nice time & connecting with each other. The more connected I feel to you as a person, to your vision as a business owner, or understand your relationship as a couple, the better equipped I am to create images that really capture that. But this will also help you feel more yourself, and in turn more relaxed during the photoshoot.
When we shoot, I'll give you some directions. I may ask you to go there under that tree, or sit a certain way by the water. I'll choose the most scenic spots and direct you in a way that will give the best light. But mostly, we'll take a walk, we'll hang out, I'll find out more about you & we'll leave with some beautiful images to show for it. It's literally a walk in the park! Here's what one of my couples had to say about their session with me:
“Aiste is such a delight to work with. She really took the time to listen and understand us as individuals and the whole shoot felt just like hanging out with old friends! Nothing prescribed or strained, it was just really fun.” — Naomi & Ben
I love this so much, because that's exactly how I'd like you to see your photoshoot with me - a day of friends hanging out & having fun. So don't worry about how you're going to look, or how the pictures will turn out. Remember what you're there for! If that's to celebrate your love and capture some moments of you and your beloved - then we'll be there to do just that: we'll hang out, you'll tell me about your relationship, how you met, what you love about each other, we'll laugh, you'll cuddle, you'll look lovingly into each other's eyes... then one of you is going to make a fart noise and you'll both burst into a big old giggle. And I'm just gonna third wheel and get those naturally intimate, romantic, goofy and funny moments framed for you to remember!
A moment that stuck with me, was when I was doing a creative photoshoot with a friend of mine once. She was very nervous, but she was determined to enjoy it and have fun. At the start of the session, she began jumping around, throwing her hands about and then rolled backwards on the grass, laughing: 'I needed to do something stupid, so I would get over the embarrassment of feeling like I look silly'. Perfect. We were there to have fun and get creative. So that's what she did! She had fun. And she immediately felt more comfortable with having me take her pictures. Because she embraced it as an experience, rather than worrying about how she looked.
A Little Bit of Preparation Goes a Long Way
I don't know about you, but I'm a planner. Having a plan makes me feel confident in what's ahead. I tend to feel a little anxious when it comes to doing new things - be it a meeting with a new client, a new job, or a photoshoot. Knowing I have everything ready & am aware of all that's involved, means that I can relax on the day. So that's what I recommend to anyone that I photograph. Prepare what you can in advance & give yourself the opportunity to be in your best form. It can go a long way in helping you feel more confident during the session.
Here are some of the things you can get ready in advance:
We'll plan your photoshoot location & times well in advance of the shoot, but make sure to also plan your journey there and back as in advance as you can or need to. And always allow extra time! It will save you worrying about traffic or train times when you should just be enjoying the experience.
I strongly advice that you take the day off. This is an investment you're making in yourself. Whether it's for your business, or personal - it's an investment in you. Value that. Clear your schedule completely, if you can. Especially avoid scheduling meetings and work for that day. But it's also best if you don't have personal commitments, doctor appointments, coffee dates with friends, etc. It just creates more opportunities for your timeline to go wrong and to add unnecessary anxiety to the day. That's especially important if you're already nervous about having your pictures taken.
Take a bath the night before, watch a movie, get a good sleep. Do things that make you feel the most relaxed and at ease. If that's meditation and yoga in the morning, an afternoon spent reading or writing in your journal, walking your dog - whatever it is that makes you feel good, I recommend.
Outfits, Hair & Make-uP
Planning your outfits in advance can save you a lot of worry. Put some thought into what you will wear and have everything washed, gathered and ready to be worn the next day.
We will discuss your outfit options and the best colours for your location in advance. As the style and colours of your clothes can really help the overall look of the image. But the most important thing you need to know if you're nervous about having your pictures taken, is that I want you to turn up feeling comfortable, confident and make the best out of the session. So if you have a particular outfit you feel the best in - go for it. What you wear can really affect how comfortable you feel in front of the camera, so don't bother wearing something that doesn't feel like you, is too tight or makes you self-conscious.
When it comes to hair & make-up, it's entirely up to you. If you feel more comfortable not wearing any make-up - don't. It's not necessary and if it makes you feel bad - it's not worth it. We're trying to get you more comfortable, remember? So equally, if that means investing in professional assistance with these things - go for it! It's worth it, if it will make you feel your more confident in how you look.
Forget the Camera - Remember the Purpose!
Do you think of your school picture days, whenever you think of having your photographs taken? I know I used to.
Trust me, I remember: It's picture day at school. All the girls are looking their best and I've got a knot in my stomach, and a bad hair day. Again. The photographer is asking me to smile and keep my chin facing a weird direction. It's a nightmare.
Let's transport to a couple session I did with my partner for the first time last year. I was relaxed, I was joking around and laughing. I was a little nervous beforehand, as I wasn't used to being photographed, but I knew the images were going to turn out great, because I trusted the vision & talent of the photographer. So on the day, I just focused on having a nice time & getting to know the photographer. I love meeting new people & hearing their stories. And I love hanging out with my man. So I just did that and let the photographer worry about how everything looks!
What has changed in between these experiences?
It's a few things. The relationship I have with myself is more accepting, so I don't judge myself so much or strive for perfection. As a photographer, I understand the process & know why I can trust the person with the camera. But the one thing that makes the biggest difference is the purpose.
It's all about the reason. School pictures were nothing but a mugshot of you looking awkward in your teenage mutant stage. But the images I create for people or trust other photographer to create for me - whether that's a couple session, or a portrait shoot. It's about embracing life, capturing unique personalities and celebrating the moment. There is a bigger purpose involved. And that's besides the fact that these photoshoots, as an experience, are designed to be the complete opposite of having your school pictures taken!
While I want you to take time to prepare, plan your outfits & etc, all those things are details that are there to help you relax or assist the aesthetic and feel of the images. On the day, we're there to capture your character or your relationship, not your look, so once you're there with me, and we're taking the images - I'll want you to forget about the details and focus on your purpose. If you're there to tell your story as an artist, a business owner - tell me your story, tell me what drives your passion and what you love most about your craft. Tell me your struggles and your proudest moments. Leave the rest to me. If you're there to capture memories of your love - then be there with your love, enjoy their embrace, tell me how you met and what you love most about each other. Remembering your purpose will help you relax & enjoy the moment, instead of worrying about what the camera is doing. You're there, because you have something wonderful to celebrate. And I'm there to celebrate that with you. So keep that at the forefront of your mind and just let me take care of the rest. I completely trust and guarantee that we will finish the day with beautiful images, regardless of all the details or how nervous you were. Keep that in mind through the session, and you'll have a lovely experience.
If you enjoyed reading this, please share it on your social media, or pin the image below. If you'd like to share any thoughts or reflections, or ask a question - do leave a comment or send me a message - I always love hearing from you!