Photos for social media have become such a big part of our lives, whether we like it or not. I get asked quite often for advice on posing. Truth is I haven’t always felt comfortable in front of the camera, I actually used to dread it. After coaching a few friends on posing I have gathered up 11 Tips to Feel Comfortable in Front of the Camera. I am so excited to share those with you, as well as my journey to get there.
First let’s talk about the pressure to take a good photo… So many industries, like theatre, will actually check to see what kind of following you have before hiring you. I hate this so much. Talent has nothing to do with follower numbers. I have been to auditions in NY where they asked me to write down my social handles and state my follower numbers. With this it feels like there is so much pressure to get that perfect picture taken every time you wear anything mildly cute.
I used to struggle with this pressure A LOT. Photoshoots used to stress me out so so much. April 2018, the last time I had headshots taken, was where everything kind of exploded for me.
Not feeling comfortable in front of the camera lead to a breaking point for me:
I was so crazy stressed. Headshots are EVERYTHING for an actor. In fact at some auditions in New York they type out based on your headshot and resume. This means they collect everyone’s headshot and resume and then decide based on your experience and looks if they will let you stay to actually audition.
With this pressure on top of the high cost of getting quality headshots done I was so stressed that I couldn’t sleep. I had a loop of doubts running through my head “what if I hate how these look?” “What if I feel awkward and stiff?” “Or I never get typed in with these headshots?” “What if this ends up being a big waste of money?” “Or I don’t sleep at all tonight and look tired in all my photos?”
Well I barely slept that night. I maybe got three hours.
But luckily… despite only getting 3 hours of sleep… the session went really well. The reason it went well was because I was prepared and worked with a fantastic photographer that made me feel at ease.
I learned so much from this experience about what it takes to feel comfortable in front of the camera. It was a turning point. It has truly informed every photoshoot I have done since.
11 Tips to Feel Comfortable in Front of the Camera:
1. Identify and research the type of shoot
There are so many different types of photoshoots. A few examples include: headshots for theatre, family photos, and business portraits. Feelings of uncertainty often come from the unknown. Take some time to research the type of shoot that you will be doing and what you need to get out of it.
2. What is the style?
Based on the type of shoot you are doing identify the style of clothes you will be wearing. Chic? Office appropriate? Cocktail attire? Sunday best?
3. Identify the mood. Then look for inspiration.
Is it formal? Flirty? Conservative? Edgy? Femme? Whimsical?
With both the style and mood in mind look for inspiration. Pinterest is my favorite place to do this since it is a user curated search engine. Search for the mood and style. Example search: “Femme Chic Style”
Take note of how the models are posing. Use these poses as a starting point and safety net when you don’t know what to do with yourself during the shoot.
4. Give yourself 3 adjectives
Based on the style you are modeling give yourself a few adjectives to think about when posing. For me I try to get photos where I think about being sweet, silly, and flirty.
5. Think of camera as scene partner
Actors really identify with this one, but I feel everyone can benefit from trying this! Having photos taken can feel really weird sometime. You are expressing yourself to an inanimate object, after all. Try pretending the camera is your friend and you are expressing those 3 adjectives to them.
Set up your camera on a timer and try out different poses. This has really helped me figure out what poses I like best on myself. With this practice I am able to take note of what my habits and tendencies are and retrain my muscle memory.
7. Play with your clothes
With the exception of something like a business shoot don’t be afraid to have some fun with your cute outfit!
Is there a big skirt that you can hold out with one hand? Or is there some cute detail that you can frame with your hands? A scarf that you can take off and toss into the wind? Take a tip from your childhood self and let your imagination inspire you to try new things!
8. Find a photographer you feel comfortable with
Always vet your photographer and do a gut check. If you get a weird vibe over the phone or even email, it probably isn’t a good fit. Feeling comfortable with your photographer is KEY! If you don’t feel free to be yourself in your shoot that will come out in your photos.
9. Speak up
Need to get out of the sun for a second? Get a drink of water? Get advice on how you are posing? – No stress!!!
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your photographer for what you need. Their success is yours. You are employing them at that moment. If they are any good, they will be more than happy to help you out.
10. Off days happen
Off days happen in life, which means off days can happen on shoot days. When things aren’t going as planned or you aren’t “feeling it,” just remember you are human and no one will judge these photos as harshly as you.
11. Have fun and play!
Photoshoots are supposed to be fun. Of all the tips to feel comfortable in front of the camera I can give, the best thing is to just enjoy yourself. Take a deep breath and have fun living out your model dreams for a bit.
- Headband; H&M 2020
- Bodysuit; Amazon 2020
- Skirt; Amazon 2020
- Heels; Chelsea Crew 2017
- Pillbox Purse; Vintage from my Grandma Janice
Photos by Allie Provost; pretaprovost.com