It’s hard to believe, but I have photographed more people than I can count. And after seeing so many people through my lens, like anything in high volume, I see patterns.
It goes something like this.
Set up camera, position subject, cue photo subject’s self-deprecating monologue.
“I have a double chin, my nose is crooked, one eye is bigger than the other, I have this freckle…”
Next, I look at the photo subject through my lens, and notably, she is pointing her chin toward the ceiling in an awkward attempt to eliminate her dreaded ‘double chin.’
DON’T DO THIS!
If you’ve ever been a photo subject, you become suddenly self-aware of a big chest or a crooked nose or multiple chins or an asymmetrical face. You probably don’t actually have these things, by the way, so let me explain.
1. Whatever is closest to the lens will appear the largest
If you don’t take away anything else from this email, let this be the one thing you remember.
Imagine an invisible plane that descends from the camera lens to you (picture a sheet of paper flat against the lens, while maintaining its position it moves through the air until it touches you). What will the paper touch first? That is the thing/facial feature/body part that will appear the largest. Consider changing your pose and/or camera angle to have the thing you want, closest to the camera.
So back to the gal pointing her chin toward the ceiling, chances are by doing this, she has just made her chin the closest thing to the lens, and guess what is about to look large and in charge? Yes, the tip of her chin! Typically, in portraits, it is the eyes that we want to be the focal point, and therefore the eyes that we want closest.
2. Shift all your weight to your back foot
Doing this has a couple of benefits. First, it immediately relaxes you or at least gives you the appearance that you are feeling super chill. Second, it creates more dynamic lines as the eye travels down the body. Third, remember tip # 1 ^ up there? Putting your weight on your back foot, allowing your weightless foot to cross in front shifts your hips back from the camera. See what I’m getting at?
3. Practice facial expressions in the mirror
I’m serious. Do this. It is very common that people are unaware of what their facial expressions actually look like. A common one: “My lips/eyes disappear when I smile?” Practice smiling in the mirror and find a look that you like. And remember, a photograph of your face is the flip (left side/right side) of what you will see in the mirror.
4. Don’t overthink it
Remember to breathe! Almost 100% of photo subjects stop breathing as soon as the camera comes out. This creates visible tension everywhere – shoulders, neck, and face. You can tell in a photo when a person is holding their breath, and chances are, no one will respond positively to a stiff looking photo of you!
5. Have fun and laugh lots!
The most magical wedding day photos are the ones that evoke emotion. Most photographers are not comedians, so it will be up to you to convey happiness in your images. Turn to your spouse, laugh, relax and do what you have to do to have fun in front of the camera, or even when you think no one is watching for that matter. Trust me, your photographer will be off in the corner somewhere, noticing everything you do and hoping to catch that candid moment!
And remember, give trust to your photographer! Hire someone because you like their work, their attention to detail and make sure they have lots of experience. There is also nothing wrong with asking to see the images before you leave the session. I personally would much rather not throw any surprises your way, and I strongly believe that making YOU part of the process is key.
Alright – go practice in the mirror now – no one will know!