I can think of maybe a small handful of brides that are comfortable in front of the camera. I never realized how many awkward, silly faces I made until my wedding day. A photographer will catch every.single.detail! While I wish she had not sent the mall to me, I will admit some of them made me giggle before deleting them FOREVER. Except this one… because it was too funny (and embarrassing…). I don’t remember who I was looking at but it clearly was not fine with me HA!
If you are like me and struggled with personal body image for most of your life, the prospect of an entire day (or several days depending on the package you choose) of photography where you are the main focus of attention is really scary. The whole point of having photographs of your daily life is to hold on to important memories. As your wedding day coordinator, I wish you don’t end up spending the whole wedding day prioritizing your face/body angles and miss the joy of getting married. My hope with this post is to give you the best advice from me and the amazing photographer Hannah Bell of Southern Belle Photography to keep you from being painfully camera-aware, constantly having in the back of your mind the thought “I need to make sure I look like my best self in photos (neck out, chin down, elongate, elongate, elongate).” Here we go!
Both of us agree that one of the best ways to look good in your wedding pictures is to get to know the photographer you booked BEFORE your big day. This gives you and your future spouse additional time to feel comfortable in front of the camera. You can do this by booking an engagement session or bridal portraits with your wedding photographer so you have a chance to go through the motions and see first hand how they work before your wedding day arrives. From the beginning, be honest with them and let your photographer know what you are most self-conscious of so they can help you enhance your best features and minimize your level of shyness.
The best way to avoid questions like “What do I do with my hands? What do I normally do with my hands?” get yourself moving. Movement helps your pictures appear more natural, and when you’re actually enjoying yourself, it shows in every single image. This advice is true for all types of photography, whether it’s engagement or wedding photos, or photos a friend takes on an iPhone. Don’t feel like you need to stage something elaborate, movement can be simple having a cocktail or just taking a walk. Other than the traditional family and wedding party pictures (if you chose to have those taken) much of the photography taken during your wedding is taken informally. From beginning to end you photographer will be waiting for you to laugh at an inside joke, get misty-eyed over a handwritten note from your fiance or your maid of honors toast, or let loose on the dance floor.
While you are moving and grooving, allow yourself to have some fun and keep your attention to each special moment happening throughout the day, all the emotions you’re feeling, and the people around you. As mentioned before, basically ignore the camera and talk to those around you, grab a drink and smooch your new spouse, break the silence with laughs and endless smiles to enjoy more of your day thus making amazing, memorable pictures. In the end, listen to your photographer’s professional advice. At times the poses they suggest may seem awkward or silly but professional photographers know the camera sees things differently so they’ll only suggest poses that will fit you best and look good in your final images.
I can’t stress enough that you don’t need to change yourself in any way just to have your picture taken. From one woman to another know that you are absolutely enough. YOU are beautiful. YOU are special. And on your wedding day, you will be marrying the person you love more than anyone else, who makes you very happy, who adores you for YOU. Try not to let worries about pictures distract you from that truth.
Hannah says it best with this last piece of advice, “A smile is the most beautiful thing you can wear.”
***For anyone who is dealing with body image issues, disordered eating, or anxiety about food, I highly, highly recommend reaching out to a trained professional for help. The Body Image Movement is a great resource to reach out to if you are struggling with these issues and wish to speak with someone.