If I were to pick up my camera and ask if I could take a photo of you, how would you feel?
If you’re anything like me you’d probably feel a bit uncomfortable, worrying about what you’re wearing or how your hair looks. And then there’s the fear of just not knowing what to do with yourself in front of the camera; how should I sit? What should I do with my hands?
Given half the chance we can all come up with loads of reasons why we don’t want to have our photo taken. But if you know me at all you’ll know how important I think it is for us all to basically get over ourselves and get in more photos.
If you really don’t like people taking your photo, then here are my best bits of advice on how to start feeling more comfortable in front of the camera.
The first thing you need to do is face your fear.
If you keep just avoiding having your photo taken you’ll never get used to it and one day you and your children will look back and be so upset to find that there are no photos of you to be found.
So take a deep breath and prepare to get familiar with your face.
Start by sitting in front of a mirror and spend some time slowing moving your face around to see what angle you like best. It might be that you like the way you look straight on, or maybe you prefer having your right side a little bit more towards the mirror.
Just have a bit of fun, posing it up and trying out different angles.
Yes you might feel really silly to start with, but no one is looking, no one can see what you’re up to and once you get past that ‘I feel silly’ feeling you should be able to start to relax and have some fun with it.
The next step is to move on from the mirror to getting in front of an actual camera.
This is baby steps though so no need to worry too much.
Just grab your phone and start snapping a few selfies. Try out the angles that you liked in front of the mirror and see if you still like the way you look at that angle in a photo.
The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take hundreds and hundreds of photos and it doesn’t matter. It’s not like the days of film cameras where you were limited to 24 photos per roll. So take photo after photo of yourself, have fun, experiment with the phone at different heights and distances away from you. Try all sorts of different angles again to learn the way to position yourself so that you’re happy with how you look.
Doing this means that next time you have your photo taken you know which angle to go for and the way to pose so that you’ll be happy with the end result.
The other big reason for all this practising is that it’s like with anything that’s scary or that we’re not really comfortable with; you have to keep exposing yourself to it until those feelings of fear and unease get less and less.
Basically, feel the fear and do it anyway.
I don’t particularly love having my photo taken, but I am much more comfortable with it now than I was a few years ago. And I think a big part of that is down to me challenging myself to get in a photo every day for a month each year.
I’ve done this every March since 2015, and it is a challenge every time but I am so pleased that I push myself to do it each time. I really do believe that it’s one of those things where the more you do it, the more you get used to it and the more comfortable you get with it. Or the less you care about all the little fears that bother you at the start.
The thing for me that pushed me to start doing this every year, and to start my little Instagram community #ShowYouWereThere, is the thought that one day my children will want photos of me from when they were little and I want them to be able to find plenty.
I don’t take the photos for me, although when I look back at them later I’m always grateful that I took them. The photos are really for my children though. One day they’ll be all they’ll have, and I want them to have a pile of them to look through.
This thought though, that it’s not for me and not about me, has really helped me basically get over myself.
I don’t always like the way I look in photos. I’m not as slim as I’d like to be. But that doesn’t matter. When my children look at photos of me they just see me. The mum that they love.
So if you need a push to get started with being in more photos, let that thought be it.
If you don’t want to do it for you, that’s fine.
Do it for your children instead.
They deserve to have photos of you.
On a more practical note, here are some other things you can do to help you feel more comfortable in front of the camera:
- Give yourself something to hold. Having a prop of some kind, even if it’s just your sunglasses or your bag, gives you something to do with your hands so you’re not worrying about where to place them or if they look awkward hanging by your sides.
- Have photos taken while you’re busy doing something. This is taking the first point one step further. You’ll feel much more relaxed if you’re doing something than if you’re just standing stiill having your picture taken. Try walking towards the camera, hugging your child, or even telling a joke to someone standing behind the camera.
- Take photos in natural light as much as possible. It’s just much more flattering.
- Have someone you’re comfortable with take the photos. I know that my favourite photos of me are taken by my husband, because I am completely relaxed with him and can just be myself. If you’re hiring a photographer to take some family photos then see if you can spend a bit of time just chatting with them before you start taking pictures so you can get to know them a bit.
There is no simple step to magically becoming more comfortable and confident in front of the camera I’m afraid.
You need to push yourself to do it even though it feels uncomfortable, or even scary at times. The more you do it though, the easier it gets and the more relaxed you’ll feel about it.
And it is so worth it to make sure you exist in photos for your family.