It’s almost time for you to step in front of the camera! If the idea of having your photos captured is a bit overwhelming–I can totally empathize. When I get in front of the camera, I seem to forget everything and can’t figure out what to do with my hands or how to even smile properly. If you’re like me, don’t worry! I’ve put together a few handy tips on how to not only feel confident, but also have natural and genuine expressions, letting your true self shine through.
The main thing I like to do to elicit natural expressions is getting couples to interact with one another through prompts that I like to call leading actions. The leading actions aren’t what I aim to photograph, but rather the reactions that the prompts lead us to. The way this happens depends on the couple. I might start dancing or I might put on some of your favorite tunes to get you dancing. Another thing I may do from time to time is ask you to tell me your first impressions of one another when you first met (this prompt usually provides a treasure trove of priceless facial expressions). These leading action prompts are just a tip of the iceberg, there are many more that are used. The leading actions depend on your personality and vibe, and other bits of information that I learn from you. These interactions are designed to loosen you up and open the door for you to be yourself.
Here are some of my favorite leading actions to elicit natural expressions and really bring out your personality in photographs:
The Ear Whisper
So it’s really not about the whisper itself, but rather what you whisper. The weirder the better.
For this leading action, I guide couples to get in close (like to where there’s no daylight between the two of you). The closer you are and the more points of contact between the two of you (touch points), the more intimate the photo can become. You can sit or you can stand, either position is fine.
For whoever plans to be the whisperer, be sure to not bury your face in your partner’s hair or hide your face behind their cheek. Although you’ll be whispering in their ear, we really want to see as much of both of your faces as possible.
The photo that I am looking to capture is not the whisper itself; what I am looking for is the subsequent reaction to whatever was whispered. For example, in the series below, the first photo was the whisper. The two following photos were the reactions what was whispered. These are photos of genuine laughter, facial expressions, and captures their personalities pretty well.
The Snuggle In Tight
What I like about this, is that “snuggle in tight” can be open to many different interpretations. I like to keep my initial instructions as vague as possible to allow the couple to interpret the pose as they see fit. This is a great way for personalities to really shine. “Snuggle in tight” can mean wrapping your partner in a tight bear hug to one couple, while it may mean “let’s get close and let me lay my head on your chest” to another, or a very tight and cozy side hug to another couple. After your initial action, I direct from there, responding to how you naturally position yourselves, which as a result, leads to more natural posing.
This leading action can morph into a variety of different poses, such as cheek kisses, forehead touches, and many other poses that you can do with your arms.
Another great leading action is walking. But as you’re walking, there’s a few things you’ll be doing. While I guide you to walk in a particular manner, the most important thing you can do here is to interact with one another: looking at each other, laughing, wrapping up in one another’s arms. Walking shows great movement and life in your photos.
Prom Pose and Temple Sniff
My absolute favorite thing is the prom pose. Well maybe not the pose itself, but everything that comes after I guide couples into that pose. You all know the prom pose–the pose where you’re standing one in front of the other, with both sets of your arms wrapped around the waist. Super awkward pose, I know. And honestly, that’s the whole point of it, to be as awkward as possible. To make it even more awkward, you will have whoever is standing in the back to lean forward, point their nose to your temple, and inhale. And when I say “inhale” I mean the inhaling with the biggest sniff you could possibly muster. The facial expressions after are PRICELESS.
A fun leading action is surprise shot. This is achieved by one person being unaware of what the other is doing. Usually, I will instruct one person to strike a particular pose. Meanwhile, I whisper to the other person to sneak up behind and surprise them on the count of three.
Tickling is one way to elicit genuine laughter and lead to some hilarious moments. Tickling and then the subsequent retaliation for tickling–it’s awesome. It usually photographs wonderfully too.
These are just a few tips to shake things up and get relaxed in front of the camera. Enjoy!