How to Take Wedding Pictures When You're Camera Shy

Follow these tips to avoid freezing up in front of the camera.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Former Associate Editor
  • Maddy is a Brand and Social Content Manager at Birdy Grey, and was a former associate editor at The Knot.
  • Maddy has written for several different publications, including HUM Nutrition, Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School of Journa...

Given that your wedding is such an emotional and happy experience, you're definitely going to want to document it. But if standing in front of a camera sounds like your worst nightmare, taking wedding pictures can cause uneasiness. To help with this, we tap professional wedding photographers to get the best tips for taking wedding pictures especially if you're camera shy.

It's super common for couples to be nervous about being photographed, but there are tangible tricks to make your photoshoot go smoothly. Wondering what they are? See all the best tips for taking wedding pictures if you're camera shy, below.

1. Hire a Photographer You Trust

The pros are unanimous on this one. The absolute best way to ensure that you feel comfortable while taking your wedding pictures is by working with someone you trust. While it's super important to check out a pro's portfolio and make sure you like their style, you should also make sure you like their personality. "If you are super awkward and hate taking pictures, your choice of photographer must go beyond picking someone with a good portfolio," Liz Fogarty, a destination wedding photographer based in Washington, D.C., tells The Knot. "You need someone with good directing skills, positive personality and a reassuring demeanor."

A great way to gage if you'll work well together is to ask them how they can put you at ease during the session, Theo Milo, a U.S. and destination photographer based in Washington, D.C., adds. "Working with your wedding photographer is an intimate process, so it's important for both you and your spouse connect with them."

2. Schedule an Engagement Session

Practice makes perfect—and wedding pictures are no exception. If you're worried about getting great photos on your wedding day, schedule an engagement session with your photographer. "This will allow you to get to know your photographer and to help you get comfortable in front of the camera," Fogarty says. "You don't want the first time you're meeting your wedding photographer to be on your wedding day." Another pro of scheduling an engagement session is you'll feel more confident while posing. Since you'll be familiar with your photographer, another perk is knowing your preferred angles.

3. Focus on Your Partner

If looking at the camera gives you jitters, Sara Wolfram, owner of onelove photography in California, suggests taking your focus off the camera and concentrating on other things. One of the best options? Your partner, of course. "We encourage people to focus on the person they love right in front of them," she tells The Knot. "That's your safe space, so focus on your person. The photographer will work around you. We don't feel like you have to stare at the camera to get great pictures."

4. Have a Drink

Yes, really. There's nothing wrong with having a little liquid courage before your wedding photos. In fact, the pros recommend it for couples who feel extra uncomfortable in front of the camera. "If you're really nervous, have a glass of champagne or a cocktail," says Michelle Beller, a destination wedding photographer based in Southern California. "It gives people their wings, and they're less likely to be stiff or give their fake smiles."

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However, Wolfram cautions that it should be limited to just one. "You don't want to have a bottle of champagne because that will take it too far. But just a glass of bubbly sometimes helps people relax," she says.

5. Laugh (Even if it Feels Forced or Awkward)

As the old saying goes: Fake it 'til you make it. If you're feeling nervous, laugh out loud with your partner. It may feel awkward, but Wolfram tells The Knot that it works really well. " Awkward laughs actually make for great pictures," she laughs.

Beller adds that this method works extremely well for photos since people won't know what was happening in the moment. "When it's a still photograph, nobody knows what you're saying to each other and they don't know why you're laughing," she says. "So hold hands or just laugh awkwardly because sometimes those little moments in between can be really cute."

6. Talk to Each Other

Chatting with your partner is also a great way to illicit authentic emotions during a photoshoot. Milo says it's his go-to method to loosen up shy couples. "I'll have the couple reminisce on something in their past—either funny or romantic," he says. "Then I step back aways and just let them talk."

Chat about anything that brings a smile to your face. Maybe it's your first date or the moment you knew your partner was the one. Focusing on the story will distract you from the camera and you'll get some adorable pictures out of it.

7. Start With Your Back to the Camera

Ease into your photo session by turning away from the camera. Beller says it's her go-to move if the couple is extremely nervous. "I'll tell them to hold hands and just walk away from the camera. Talk to each other, make sure you're looking at each other as you walk away. Talk about the wedding plans." Eventually you'll want to turn and face the camera, but this can be a great way to start off your session.

8. Have Some Pictures Taken From a Distance

You can also work with your photographer take pictures that are far away so you don't have the camera in your face. This can be great for some romantic scenic shots, but Beller says you definitely want to get some closer shots as well.

"I think when you look back in 10 years, you'll regret not seeing yourself. Having those photos from that time in your life is incredibly important for documentation purposes and for the history of your family. They are irreplaceable."

9. Ask Your Photographer for Direction

A good photographer will give you some direction no matter what. However, if you're feeling especially nervous or awkward in front of the camera, it doesn't hurt to ask your pro to give you extra encouragement. Wolfram says that it's important to ensure your photographer has experience guiding couples who need a little more help in front of the camera.

10. Get Your Hair and Makeup Done

Looking for an extra confidence boost? Consider getting your hair and makeup professionally done (for the engagement session and on your wedding day). "I've never had hair and makeup and felt awful after it. I've always felt amazing after I've had hair and makeup," Beller says. She says that feeling good is the key to getting great photos, which is why she recommends getting a pro to give your look a little boost. "They will make you look and feel your best, and when you feel your best, that's what comes across in the photos."

11. Wear Something You Feel Good In

For engagement pictures, Beller says it's best to wear something that you're comfortable in and that you feel great in. "The better you feel, the better you look in photos." She says this is why wedding pictures are usually so successful: because people feel great in their wedding outfits—and it comes across in their photos. Make sure you pick an outfit that makes you feel confident, and you'll have a much easier time during your photoshoot.

12. Plan an Activity

This tip is mostly for engagement photos, but you can steal it for your wedding day. Since distraction is the best cure for camera shy couples, bringing an activity is great compromise. "It could be popping a bottle of bubbly or grabbing ice cream at your first date spot," Fogarty says. "Not only do those things help you loosen up, it also brings a little more meaning to your pictures. We are also very good at directing our clients to get those poses that look natural and authentic." Other ideas include bringing an instrument you play or involving your pet—the options are endless.

13. Take Your Pictures Away From Your Guests

While this sounds like a simple tip for taking wedding photos, it's an important one. If you freeze up in front of crowds, it's best to take your wedding pictures away from your guests. Work with your photographer to find a more secluded, private spot where you and your partner can pose comfortably, Fogarty advises.

14. Remember These Are Your Photos

"First thing's first, remember that this is not going to be some magazine glamour shot," Wolfram says. "This is your own personal memory, so you don't have to worry about impressing anyone." Wolfram says that remembering that these pictures are just for you and your partner always helps her couples relax a little bit more.

15. Don't Compare Yourself

Turning to Instagram or Pinterest for some photo inspiration is great, but falling into a comparison game can be dangerous, Wolfram says. "I've had couples who get stressed out thinking that they have to do this perfect shoot," she says. "Just let it be you. Let this be your experience. Don't try to imitate or duplicate someone else's experience." Trust your photographer (they are professionals, after all) and focus on what really matters: the love you and your partner share.

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