Are you worried you’ll look awkward in your wedding, engagement, or elopement photo session gallery? Here’s the thing – almost everyone thinks they’re going to look awkward in photos. And you know what? Getting your pictures taken, even with a professional photographer, will probably even feel a bit awkward at times. And that’s normal, I promise.
Without a doubt, one of the first things couples say when chatting with me is “I have to warn you, we’re really awkward in photos…” Does that sound familiar? Then this post, my friend, is for you! Continue reading to learn how to make your photo session feel more fun and natural.
5 Tips for Feeling Comfortable During Your Photo Session
1. Hire a photographer you vibe with
I cannot stress this enough: Hire a photographer that you feel comfortable speaking with. You don’t have to be the best of friends, but I often tell couples on Zoom calls that it’s important to feel like you could at least spend an hour getting coffee with me. Why? Because getting your photo taken can be an awkward experience, and working with someone you already feel a little bit comfortable with increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to relax during your time together. In my opinion, this is the most important tip out of the five.
So, when you first start searching for a photographer be sure to speak with a few different ones to help you get a feel for each vendor’s personality and process. Photographers learn how to photograph at flattering angles, in good light, and often have extensive practice working in the service industry. Photographers vary in personality type though, so it’s worth speaking with a few different people to determine who you’re most aligned with.
The last thing to mention here is: consider the shooting and editing style of the photographer you’re hiring. Often a more photojournalistic/candid style will cater to a photo session where you don’t have to interact directly with the camera as often. In simpler terms, you can avoid even more of those “Now look at the camera, and smile!” shots.
2. Wear outfits you LOVE
Okay, so you’ve hired a photographer you like but you’re still worried about your upcoming session? My next tip is to start your session in an outfit that makes you feel AWESOME. We all have it – that one outfit that makes us feel REALLY fabulous. Wear that. If it’s a more casual option? Bring a more formal one for the second part of your session to mix things up and vice versa. The better you feel in your own skin, the less you’ll have to worry about how you look (because you already know you look great). 😉
Pro Tip: Stuck on outfit choices? Neutral colors always look fabulous in photos, regardless of backdrop. Clients that book a session with me receive an entire PDF dedicated to location ideas and outfit choices – be sure to ask if your photographer offers help with this, too. Or, for more outfit inspo, head on over to Pinterest and start browsing!
3. Be yourselves
How do you and your partner normally interact together? Do you have a silly dynamic and laugh together often? Are you more serious naturally? Do you prefer quieter, more intimate moments? My first bit of advice here is to try to pretend your photographer isn’t there and recreate an authentic dynamic together. If you want those fun candid images you see everywhere, then the sillier, the better in my opinion! Laugh together, dance together, hug each other, pick your partner up and twirl them around, etc.
If you get stuck and don’t know where to look or what to do? Ask your photographer! Just remember that ultimately, you hired a professional for a reason – they’ve done this before, perhaps hundreds of times. They should be able to gently direct you through the session. Then, simply trust the prompts and direction they give to you. If you’re not entirely sure what they mean? Ask clarifying questions! I’ve worked with so many engineers and lawyers that I now know to be very specific in the way that I direct my couples. Needing more or less direction is absolutely fine – just communicate with your photographer as to what those needs are.
Pro Tip: Not sure where you should be looking? It’s always a good idea to look at your partner (or a friend) and smile. This allows your photographer to capture a few more candid shots as you move into your next set of prompts, or next location.
4. Play music
When all else fails, music always helps. As soon as couples have officially booked on my calendar, I send them a questionnaire that helps me get to know them a bit (and gives me a few things to chat about with during our photo session time). Within that questionnaire, I ask them for a few of their favorite songs and/or to link me to a playlist that they both enjoy.
When the day of their photo session rolls around, I will often bring my little Bluetooth speaker and my phone with their playlist pre-downloaded so that we can play some tunes! This always helps to lighten the mood.
5. Turn your photo session into a date night
My last tip to prep for a comfortable photo session is: turn the experience into a date! This could mean anything from taking the entire day off together to simply reserving a table at their favorite restaurant before or after your photo session. Heck, we could even turn the actual session into a date! Do you frequent coffee shops together? Hang out at breweries on the weekends? Prefer to snuggle at home on your couch? Love to canoe in the summer? These all make for awesome photo locations.
If you want to really level it up, choose your photo location based on somewhere that’s meaningful to both of you! Adding sentimental value to a session location can really help you focus more on each other while your photographer clicks away. Turning your photography session into something to look forward to will help you change the way you’re framing your thoughts around getting your photos taken.
Hi! I’m Jenna – a wedding and elopement photographer who has had the honor of documenting various photo sessions throughout Vermont, New England (even Jamaica and Aruba!) over the past five years. You can learn more about me here.
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