The Art of Feeling Confident on Camera

advice | photography

Stepping in front of the camera can be a daunting experience for most. I’ll hold my hand up and wave it around right here and say, “Yep, bloody hate it!” right now. I’ve made no secret, over the years, that one of the biggest factors for me getting behind the camera is because of my absolute loathing of having my photograph taken. Feeling confident on camera is as hard for me as anyone else!

Since those first forays into photographing people, it’s a line I’ve heard many times… “I hate having my photograph taken.” And it’s been said to me by some of the most beautiful people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and photograph!

And why?

In my experience, the overwhelming reason for this fear and loathing of stepping in front of the lens comes purely down to people’s confidence. People worry about their hair, an unfortunate spot that has developed overnight, their body shape and/or size, the way they smile, their teeth, their chins…

But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from being behind the camera, it’s that being confident enough to have your photograph taken is something that can be learned. So here are my tips on how you can be more confident on camera.

Those aren’t flaws!

I was shooting a couple session on a beautiful beach in Norfolk a few years back. I had, in front of me, a stunning couple, clearly very much in love, wrapped up in each other’s arms and enjoying each other’s company as I snapped away a few yards from them.

At one point I whooped (because that’s what I do!) and called words of encouragement to the pair of them along the lines of, “Argh, you two are bloody gorgeous! Look at that smile!” And in the next moment I was left gaping in surprise when the female of the couple looked at me and said, “Oh, I hate the way I smile.”

Err, what?! She proceeded to tell me that she was conscious of smiling with her mouth open because of her teeth. “They’re crooked,” she said, pointing them out to me. I had to lower my camera for a moment and shake my head sadly.

“Clearly, you can’t see what I see,” I told her. “When you smile, I see this beautiful face just light up! Your eyes are huge and amazing! Your smile is so wide, it makes me think of Julia Roberts. And when you relax and smile like that, I can see how much love there is between you. You’re bloody gorgeous and I’m sure your fiancé thinks exactly the same, right?” I said, looking at him for encouragement.

“It’s one of the things I love about her,” he agreed.

The thing you have to realise is this, the only person aware of your “flaws” is you. Honestly! What you think of as your flaws are simply quirks of your appearance. And, guess what? We all have them! Here’s mine: when I smile, one of my eyes scrunches up more than the other – makes me look pissed! – and don’t even get me started on my chin.

So, learn to love your “flaws”. Because, truthfully, no one else can see them.

Relax in the moment

Here’s the thing… when you’re nervous, you tense up. And when you tense up, it makes you look awkward and unhappy and these are things you can’t hide when the camera is on you.

Usually, the best images I capture of my clients are right near the end of the session, at the point where a) you finally realise I’m not going to smack you over the head with my camera, b) having your photograph taken really isn’t as scary as you might think and c) you know you’re almost finished and you relax, knowing the end is almost there.

Those relaxed shots are the ones I strive for throughout the entire shoot because they will be the most beautiful and natural photographs of you. The whole reason you hire me, right?

Thankfully, most of my clients relax fairly quickly into their shoots because I work bloody hard to make that happen. But it helps if you go into the shoot remembering that a relaxed you is a more beautiful you, really. Just take a deep breath and go with it 🙂

Trust your photographer

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Putting photographs into my portfolio of gorgeous, relaxed subjects goes so much further towards aiding my business than images of unhappy, uncomfortable and nervous subjects.

The same goes for images of squinty eyes, half blinks, weird mouth shapes and funny faces (unless it’s intentional!). Your photographer will gain nothing from putting images out there that make you look unattractive or unappealing. Because that makes their business look unattractive and unappealing. And who wants to book a photographer with a business like that?!

So, seriously, you’ve employed a photographer to take your photograph. Trust that they are going to take images that show the best, most beautiful version of you. It’s their job, it’s what they’re great at!

Rely on posing tricks

When all else fails, there are a few posing tricks you can employ to help you look your best on camera. Practise these in front of the mirror and see the difference immediately!

Instead of standing straight onto the camera, turn your body so that it’s at an angle. This immediately slims you as it shows a narrower silhouette. You can improve this even further by putting one leg in front of the other, keeping your leg closest to the camera slightly bent and shifting your weight onto the leg furthest away. It’s a well-known fact that anything in an image that’s further away from the camera appears smaller so by pushing your weight back, hey presto!

Angle your face. This is something you should try to practise in the mirror, you’ll get to know your best side and angle and, the more you practise it, the more naturally it will come when you’re in front of the camera. At the same time as angling your face, pushing your forehead slightly forward and down will have the desirable effect of losing any chin you might be worried about appearing in your images.

Relax your hands and shoulders. When these tense up, it makes you look nervous and uncomfortable (remember point 2 up there!). We all have a natural tendency to tense up our hands and shoulders without even realising it. As soon as you know it’s happening, take a moment to shake them out. Your photographer will thank you for it!

Smile with your eyes! Don’t just smile with your mouth. There’s nothing more obvious than a fake smile, human beings are pretty much programmed to spot one at a thousand paces. Of course, if you’re not a naturally smiley person, then don’t force yourself to smile for the camera. I’d sooner shoot a gorgeous unsmiling face than a fake smiling one, without a doubt!

And finally, create space by angling parts of your body. What I mean by this is, rather than standing with your arms straight down at your sides, bend your arms a little, create a gap between your arms and your body for instant slimming. If you’re leaning against something, try to create a gap between you and the thing you’re leaning on. It doesn’t have to be a massive gap, that would just look awkward and a wee bit silly. But by creating that gap, it stops you from looking wide and creates the lovely illusion of narrowness right where you need it!

And there you have it…

My top tips to help you feel more confident in front of the camera. Tried and tested by moi, no less! Don’t believe me? Here’s a recent shot of me by the very lovely and talented Jodi Redhouse Photography!

To get your confident self in front of my camera, get in touch X