Stepping in front of a professional camera for your engagement and wedding photos can be intimidating.
“I’m awkward in front of the camera.”
After 4 years photographing dozens of couples, I’ve heard this so many times, and I totally understand. You don’t feel like a model, and you want these images to represent this important time with beauty and grace.
Choosing a photographer who puts you at ease in front of the camera and has an eye for detail is important. But in addition, I want to set you up for success with five tips and ideas to keep in mind to help create the most stunning images possible.
I want you to feel confident, at ease, elegant, and totally beautiful. When you feel amazing, you’ll look even better.
I’m keeping things simple here with just five tips to consider before you step in front of the camera. These are all ideas that I’ve gathered after photographing dozens of couples, noticing the subtle shifts that result in utterly elegant, authentic, unforgettable photos no matter the pose or location.
One: Relax Your Shoulders
When you first step in front of the camera, a little bit of tension in your shoulders is natural – you’re feeling awkward, not completely sure how to position your body. Raised or tense shoulders read in images as discomfort, bad posture, nervousness, or like you’re cold! If the weather is actually chilly, this is even more tempting. Think warm thoughts, imagine you’re walking by the sea on your favorite beach, and relaaaax your shoulders down. Your chest should feel open and lifted, as opposed to closed and collapsed. Feel the length in your neck. Voila! Instant pool-side relaxed and beautiful vibes.
Two: Pay Attention to Your Hands
Hands can be tricky. The first tip here is to watch out for clenched fists. It’s natural to close your hand into a fist, without even thinking, when you feel a bit nervous or don’t know what to do (or again, if you’re chilly). Fists look aggressive, not what you want in your relaxed and romantic imagery. So shake it out! Let your hands fall naturally and softly at your side or, better yet, put your hand casually in your pocket (gents!) or gently hold onto your skirt or dress as if you’re holding it up to take a step forward (ladies!).
The second trick is to keep the relaxed, natural shape when your hand is resting on your fiancé’s arm or chest. A flat palm and straight, stretched fingers can look like you’re pushing them away, and we want the opposite feel. Instead, let your hand rest gently with a little bend in your fingers. Think of the way your hand drapes over a computer mouse when you’re using it (weird, but it works!)
Three: Get In Close and Cozy
Being photographed with your fiancé/husband/wife is a whole lot more fun than being on your own in front of the camera. As your photographer, I am seeking out the unique and unforgettable connection that the two of you share. It may seem obvious, but getting cozy and close to your partner is the easiest way to create that intimate, romantic feel. This means bringing your faces close together – which is surprisingly hard! I think couples tend to want to look at each other when they’re being photographed, but that keeps you far enough apart to focus your eyes on your partner. Try almost touching noses, or going forehead to forehead, for an incredibly romantic pose. Think about the natural way you cuddle together. The more authentic the pose feels, the more you’ll be able to relax and get cozy!
Four: Contrapposto – Creating a Beautiful Shape
This concept is a bit more advanced than my other advice, but I think it can add so much life to images and poses. Contrapposto refers simply to a stance where your weight is distributed more towards one foot than the other foot. It creates a more dynamic, interesting, and elegant shape in your body and is super flattering. Instead of standing with equal weight on both feet, simply shift your weight towards one hip. You’ll have most of your weight on one foot, and your knee on the opposite side will bend slightly. That’s it – a more relaxed, beautiful pose with just that weight shift. Play around with this and see what feels most elegant and relaxed for you.
Five: Bring the Magic (Believe You’ve Got It, Too)
After years of experience, I have no other way to say it but this: The cliché is true. Your authentic joy and beauty will shine through if you relax and let it. If you want to put on some Beyonce before your engagement session, do it. If you want to have a glass of wine, do it. If you will feel pampered and gorgeous having your hair and make-up professionally done, do it! Do what you know will make you feel beautiful.
Then, find your confidence. Picture the situations in which you feel beautiful and relaxed. Imagine yourself at a cocktail party, wearing something fabulous with your arm gently draped on the bar. Imagine the love of your life just asked you to marry them, and you said yes. Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine that…