This is something that falls on my mind quite often as a photographer, as there’s rarely a time that I don’t find some little signs of anxiety amongst people when my camera comes out.
Whilst there’s always things I can be doing at that moment in time to ease the process for everyone – and I’ll certainly always be trying to get better at these things and find new methods! – I thought it might be useful to discuss some of the things you can do to help yourself in these situations as well, in order to make the experience more enjoyable and get the most out of your investment…
So here are the few thoughts I’ve considered that could help you out…
#1 – Keep yourself and your thoughts entertained!
It’s so easy to just end up focusing on the literal task at hand when you begin a photo shoot – your mind is simply absorbed with where to stand and what to do, unable to ignore the camera! So of course you’re not likely to be acting completely naturally straight away.
What you need to remember is that the camera and the purpose of the photo shoot are second to you.
You’re not here to fill a role and entertain the camera. The camera is here for you, to capture and share on your behalf.
And as one of the creatures on this amazingly diverse planet, you are already intrinsically fascinating and have a story to tell just by being. That might all sounds a little over the top but I honestly believe it. It’s great to just be a fly on the wall to how other people live their lives, which is why my job is such a privilege.
So to begin creating photographs that capture your true genuine side, we just need to get you in a nice relaxed & natural zone mentally!
To help this I’ll always try to start our shoot at a location that is relevant, beautiful and engaging. Basically, somewhere you would want to spend time anyway. This means, hopefully, you can just imagine: what would you be doing in this space if the camera weren’t there? If you had those minutes alone with your partner or family, in that setting – how would you interact? Where would you explore? Or where would you head to relax and spend your time? When you do turn to address the camera, you can turn to it like another friend who happens to be along for the ride.
Get involved with your surroundings and engage your thoughts. You can absorb yourself the current moment in time or think ahead imaginatively, considering things that are important to you.
Ultimately, bringing you back to your genuine self!
This is the difference between those pictures that depict someone looking uncomfortable and somebody looking confident. The confident person draws your attention away from the camera by simply just focusing on themselves first!
This is the time to celebrate you after all!
#2 – Consider your what your photographer’s actually doing in moments of quiet…
There’s always a minute or two where you’ll notice a pause in the flow of your photographer’s shooting.
After the continuous clicks of the shutter, a sudden silence can perk you up and wonder what needs to be done next, but I assure you, if your photographer needs your help or attention, they will most likely say so.
Usually the pause is due to something technical the photographer just wants to get right: a moment for thought or the adjustment of settings; to review your progress together and keep the creative ideas flowing…
In the mean time, I’d just recommend carrying on as you were. Don’t worry or assume you need to move yourself along or change anything, unless of course, you want to! Like I said in point 1, the camera is there for you, so whatever you want to do comes first – although it’d probably be best to avoid rushing off to explore and leaving your photographer behind!!
Just relax with the flow of the shoot and everything will resume and even pick up, as things progress.
#3 – Be kind to yourself & keep in mind the perspective of your loved ones
For those of us who still feel challenged beyond these first barriers, it’s often recurring confidence issues that can take over the situation.
It’s so easy to overanalyse and let our thoughts run away with themselves, and then it’s hard to claw your way back out of that frame of mind.
But whatever the issue is that we keep tormenting ourselves with – of course, it’ll be different for everybody – we should still be able to take back control with a little creative discipline, positivity and kindness. This is good practice for everyday as well actually! Not just your occasional photo shoot.
I like to start by reminding myself what advice and words I would offer to a friend in the same situation. It’s great to build a relationship with yourself that is as valuable to you as the relationships you have with your closest friends. You don’t deserve anything less!
If you’re patient and deliberate with the thoughts you say to yourself, eventually this will simply become habitual for you! And there lies that beautiful relationship we’re after.
Then there’s also another side in shifting your perspective…
When I think about the people I really, absolutely cherish, it frustrates me when I’m unable to capture photos of them the way I see them. In my eyes everything I’m looking at is just perfect the way it is, but when I lift up my camera, quite often they’ll flinch or even just cut me off by turning away.
Obviously it’s their perception of what I see that they’re not comfortable with, but I just want to show them, that’s not how I see it at all! My perception is not even close to what they are thinking.
If you can switch the roles around and get into the mind of the people who absolutely cherish you – probably your partner or family who are actually on the photo shoot with you – maybe you’ll find that you’re able to trust and open up in order to let them get those photos of you that they’re longing for.
I’m sure you’d want photos of your loved ones to treasure forever too?
That’s what I’m here to do for you! Photos for you to love, and for everyone else to love as well.