“I’m sorry, but we’re a little nervous about this and we’re going to be really awkward.”
Nearly every engagement shoot that I do begins this way. I’m here today to say that it’s ok to be anxious about wedding photography. In fact, it’s totally normal and that’s just the way I want it.
I’m a wedding photographer. In that, 95% of the people I photograph aren’t professional models. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been told “the only photos we take are selifes” or “the last time I had my photos taken was my senior portraits.” So, what do I do to help?
You’re not alone
First, I want to let you know that I totally feel your awkwardness. I totally get awkward when someone takes my photo. I try to hang out with other photographers and get my photo taken from time to time to remind me that it’s super scary to stare down the barrel of a huge lens (and they look even bigger when you’re on the front end). It’s really easy for photographers to hide behind the viewfinder and forget what it feels like to be the subject. So, you’re not alone. We all feel this.
The most important thing about being comfortable in front of the lens is the relationship. So, I’m going to keep talking to you all the time. As much as possible, I want you to focus on each other and talk to me. We’re going to make jokes, smile, move and over time forget that that big piece of glass is even there.
My second tool to help you not be anxious is to keep moving. Silence is awkward and everyone starts to freeze up. But keep moving, keep telling jokes and it will be much more normal. Usually, when I’m doing a shoot, I start with poses and motion.
All of this is why I offer free engagement sessions to all my wedding clients. I want to give you that opportunity to practice, to get to know me better, to get the feel of being in front of the lens and help lower your anxiousness. Honestly, the same really goes for any wedding vendor. We know the business. We know the weddings. We’re here so you don’t have to worry about it and can just focus on the things you care about.
What do you do to lower that stress level? Did I forget something? Let me know in the comments below.
Joe Tobiason | Seattle wedding photographer | PNW engagement photography