Having a camera in your face is awkward. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I'm almost positive EVERYONE has felt awkward in front of a camera at some point...unless you're 5 and under. No awkwardness there. However, that awkwardness doesn't have to last for an entire session. My goal is that it leaves as soon as possible! So how can we make that happen?
1. Remember Why You're Getting Photos Done
First way to say bye to the awkwardness is to remember why you're getting your photos done in the first place. Most likely, you're getting your photos taken because you have people you love around you, and you want to remember those people as they are right now, these moments as they're happening. It's truly amazing that we have the ability to do that! We can't freeze time, but we kind of can capture it. Remember the people you love surrounding you. It will probably relieve a little bit of stress to think of your session in this way too! If your life isn't perfect, why do your photos have to be? Let's ease up a bit and let the crazy in. Most likely you'll want to remember that in 20 years too.
2. Choose the Right Photographer for YOU
Find a photographer you feel comfortable with! This is huge. Ideally you've spoken with your photographer before and already know that it's someone you can feel comfortable around. That doesn't always happen though, so just find someone you think you would get along with well. If you have kids - same goes for them! Choose a photog that will make your kids comfortable!
Movement movement movement - It's always good to start the session with some movement because that's comfortable. Most likely, you walk ALL the time, so it shouldn't feel too weird to walk toward a camera. I tell my clients to walk hand in hand while looking around - at each other, the ground, the trees, whatever they feel like looking at! I had one mom and dad who even talked about what they were having for lunch during this "pose." ...I actually think that's happened more than once. It feels pretty natural, and it translates to beautiful photos!
4. Choose the Right Location
Location is important, and crowds are something to consider! If you know you're going to feel awkward with a lot of people around, take that into consideration when choosing your location! I'm convinced all that's needed is an open field or grassy area, and we can get more than enough photos that you'll be happy with! Because to me, location isn't the most important thing. Where is the focus of the image? On the people - you and your loved ones. I actually prefer a simple location because it does make it entirely about the people. The picture below was taken in my apartment complex. There's a small wooded area, and if I would've turned the camera the other way, you would've seen apartment buildings and homes. But the focus is on those happy faces, and it's one of my favorite bride and groom portraits I've taken.
5. Go All In
That might sound a little strange, but it's true. Just like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you're willing to NOT worry about how you look or feel or what others are thinking, you'll probably get better images. Don't be afraid to laugh with each other, talk to each other, smile somewhere other than the camera, and show some emotion. It's the photographer's job to guide and direct the posing, so I absolutely do that, but sometimes my "poses" feel more like simple prompting. Examples: "Everyone look at the person who snores the loudest" "Give dad a big bear hug" "Whisper something silly in your brother's ear" "Nose wrestle!" (personal fave), and the list goes on. If you like to have a good time together, you want that to translate into your images, and that will only happen if you're not afraid to be yourself!
I hope you can relax and ENJOY your next session. That's the goal - that you leave having actually enjoyed your time, and I think it's possible - even for Dad!