5 ways to keep calm in front of the wedding day paparazzi

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A reader sent me this question…

Hi Megan,

I'm one of those people who FREEZE around a camera. Deer. In. Headlights. I want to be able to enjoy my wedding and for once not hide whenever I see a lens. I was wondering if perhaps you had any advice for relaxing and enjoying the wedding documentation.

Thanks!! -Halle

Hey Halle, and all my other shy brides. I'll fess up right now and say that I can't identify with this at all — I'm a total ham and LOVE to have my picture taken. While I can't really give you tips AS a shy bride, I give you advice based on my years as a wedding photographer!

1. Spend some time getting to know your photographer before the wedding.

There are several ways to this…

  • Have the initial meeting in person.
  • Keep in contact via email.
  • Find them on Twitter and Facebook.

I know I enjoyed getting to know my clients through these methods, and getting to follow their wedding planning process, and even chime in on a few things. So when I showed up on the day of their wedding, I already felt like we knew each other.

2. Practice having your pics taken with an engagement session!

This will accomplish two things…

  1. You can let them know flat-out that you are not comfortable in front of the lens.
  2. It gives you a chance to get comfortable with your “personal paparazzo.”

My favorite couples to shoot were the ones that I've become friends with (no shit, huh?). And that's happened over coffee while we're having the initial meeting, or even during silly engagement photo sessions followed by margaritas.

3. Have a shot of tequila!

I don't know about you, but this is like instant-comfort-zone-juice for me. Of course, everyone's different… wine, whiskey, your semi-legal imbibement of choice… And then watch all your relatives tell you how “blissed out” you looked in all your wedding photos. Way better than “dear in headlights” amahright?

4. Ask your friends and family to chill out on the snap shots, or assign someone to do this for you.

Throw and unplugged wedding! Because, honestly, two photographers (a main photog and a second shooter) on or around the dance floor can already be a bit much when you're having your first dance moment, but when your Uncle Bob and your wedding-photog-in-training friend gather around, flashbulbs a'flashing, it can turn your intimate moment into a fake smile and squint-fest. If your photog has any skillz, you won't even know they're there during the intimate moments.

Speaking of intimate moments…

5. Schedule some alone time for you and your newly betrothed.

Get your yichud on. It will probably be the only time during the day someone WON'T be trying to take your pic — enjoy it and use that time to re-energize.

Honest time? Even my most SUPER shy brides have gotten over their lens fright on the day of their wedding. They're just so damn excited to be getting married that they find themselves, either in awesome moods, or just WANTING to have as many pics taken as possible because, really?, when is this going to happen again? So embrace the lens! It's gonna let you re-live this day over and over again. Love the lens, the lens is your friend, goosfraba!

Comments on 5 ways to keep calm in front of the wedding day paparazzi

  1. all of the advice above is EXCELLENT.

    i would like to add that good photographers are EXPERTS at making you comfortable and helping you forget they’re there. my wife HAAAATES getting her photo taken, but whitney lee (yes! her!) was able to make everyone just love being around her. i know it doesn’t help right now, but i hope it will be the case for you, too.

  2. My wedding officiant and I had this discussion at one of our pre-wedding meetings. He decided to add a line “the bride and groom ask that family and friends share in this wedding fully and not through a camera lense. The couple would like the only person taking pictures to be the official wedding photographer.” It really helped our shyness.

    • That was so awesome of your officiant, and he raises a good point. So many people spend so much time just taking pictures that they don’t live in the moment, and miss it completely, without realizing it.

    • Another way to minimize the guest photo-taking would be to set aside 5 minutes, say after you make your grand entrance, where you, your partner, and your wedding party can just stand around and let guests take photos of you (not with you). If you do this, you can contain the photo-taking to a specific point during the wedding, allowing you to both brace yourself for a limited, defined period of photos and make a small concession to Aunt Mildred et al who just want to capture you in your finery. There will always be one or two people who make it their mission to document every minute of the wedding, but for most people, they just want one or two decent photos of the couple. Our DJ unexpectedly had us stand on the dance floor with the wedding party after we made our grand entrance and before the first dance for random guest photos and although I don’t mind having my photo taken, I really think that guests being given a defined opportunity to take photos early in the evening was the reason we weren’t approached 120398098 times during the reception for photos, which ultimately allowed us to relax more overall and enjoy spending time with our guests.

    • I agree too. We asked that our officiant ask people to not take photos. My then fiance has rather thick glasses so an unexpected flash can honestly startle him.

      Also, I’ve been to so many weddings where the poor bride and groom can hardly eat their food they paid for. What can help this is DO NOT have a bride and groom table! We sat with our parents and ate with them and because of that, folks left us alone. If you and your honey are at a table all by yourselves folks will be like “oh hai! can we get a photo?” every ten minutes

  3. I’m not particularly camera shy but I did have a few insecure moments about photography when I’d look at posed photos of us. I basically decided to – and did – pretty much ignore our photographer and not try to pose at all.

    Other than the portraits with other people, I didn’t pose and I mostly pretended the photographer wasn’t there at all. If you can find a mental place where you can just ignore it, I think that’s the best place.

  4. great post!
    a bit off topic but does anyone know what those purple paper ball things are called in the photo? I want to google how to make them but don’t even know where to start!

  5. One of the things I like about our photographer is that his previous clients have said they didn’t even know he was there a lot of the time. He gets great photos but it does it quickly, photo-journalist style so it’s not a case of having a camera in your face all day.

    I’m not so sure how I’m going to cope with everyone else, but I’m definately liking the idea of scheduled alone time!

  6. Even though this is great advice, I’ve got to say that I squirm every time I read someone saying that you just have to get an engagement session done, because otherwise you will be awkward around the photographer on the Big Day and have lousy pictures. Just one more wedding-related thing that you just HAVE to pay for, or else you’re doing it wrong!

    • While never required, this IS one of the things that as a camera-shy person I never regretted finding the money for and I would recommend it to anyone in my situation who asked me for advice.

      It was kind of like getting the first date out of the way before I went all the way with my photographer- a little awkward, but I walked away a lot more confident about the main event.

        • I treasure my engagement pictures because the thing I thought was smiling that my face was doing? Was not smiling. I may have a goofy grin in all my wedding pictures, but AT LEAST IT IS A SMILE.

          • That sounds like my problem. When I think I’m smiling normally it just seems to make me look blank in photos, like I don’t know what’s going on.

            I feel like I’m pulling some crazy Joker face whenever I smile for a camera but it looks normal in the photos.

    • It’s odd to me to hear people say this. Both of the photographers I actually crunched numbers with offered FREE (or perhaps just included?) engagement shoots. Basically because it was important to *them* to be comfortable with photographing the couple. Of course, they were both pricier photogs, but still. If you’re camera shy, but want pictures, then I think it’s worth paying the extra money to make sure you get a photographer who specializes in a photojournalist style and includes an engagement shoot in even the most parred down bundles.

  7. Awesome article! It also always seems good to remember that if you feel like your forcing yourself to smile or ‘look good’ the pictures will show that force. Just let the happiness of the day shine through and be yourself.

  8. I absolutely hate my picture being taken. I don’t think I’ve taken a flattering photo in my adult life. The thought of so many photos being taken on my wedding day makes me want to puke. We’ve hired a photog on the basis that she’ll be taking shots of the day as they happen, all candid so we aren’t posing (I hate posing with people). I’ve told her that we prefer more photos of the DIY projects than of ourselves. We’ve also sort of hinted to our friends that we don’t want a ton of photos taken of us already, and slowly we’re getting fewer photos taken of us. I’m hoping they continue the trend 🙂 The photos are the worst part of this wedding for me.

  9. I absolutely hate getting my photo taken, but I honestly really really enjoyed getting our engagement photos taken. We ended up having great chemistry with our photographers (we are using them for the wedding too). One thing I found that really helped me was just being super involved in my fiance and just enjoying our time together without thinking too much about the lenses around. We did what we naturally do at home and they are some of the best photos we have of us, it allowed me to be super happy and not worried about the lenses around me.

    Granted it may have helped that one of our photographers accidentally went swimming when he tried to get a shot from a canoe in a lake…

  10. So, off topic but…any chance we’ll get a profile of the wedding featured in the photograph? I kind of fell in love simply from that picture.

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