This is what I hear when I meet my clients for the first time.. “Pauline,we really want natural and relaxed photographs from our day because that is the way we are. We want more of the spontaneous moments between us and our guests captured than too many shots of just the two of us”. We proceed to have a great chat about which guests are important to the couple, the story is becoming clearer to me and I am excited about making this happen. But as we continue, small bombs start to drop in the form of “I don’t like my upper arms”, “My nose looks crooked”, “I have a lazy eye”, “I have a double chin”, “I always look terrible in photographs”, “I’m super conscious of my teeth”. These are only some of the concerns I hear (mostly from my Brides!). So where do we strike the balance between natural photographs and photographs where you are guaranteed to look good? Here are my top tips:
1: Posture – Body language speaks volumes so if you are anxious about any part of your body this will come across in your photographs generally in the form of tensed up shoulders, arms clamped down by your sides and an expression that says you are being made do this! Drop the shoulders and move your upper arms out from the body. Make sure they are bent at the elbow so that the curves of your waistline can be seen. The lower part of your arms can sit across the hip bone when holding your flowers. Stand in front of a mirror and do this to see the difference it makes. Practise, practise, practise! so that you do it automatically on the day.
2: The Dress – Become aware of how your body reacts when you stand still, move, sit down in your dress. If have chosen a sleeveless dress and have an issue with your upper arms, you may need to consider a veil which is long enough to fall partly over your arms. A bolero type top works really well, cuts a structured line over the shoulders and stops at just the right place to highlight your waist while silhouetting the arms. I have to admit the dresses that photograph the best are those with sleeves/collar that may come in the form of lace/tulle or a modern structured collar that really cuts a great shape. While boning in sleeveless dresses is important to keep the shape of the design, make sure you take a look in the mirror to check how your upper body reacts when you sit down. A spillage of flesh over the top can happen if the dress with boning has been closed too tightly and believe me this is not flattering to the boob or arm area! I could talk forever about dresses but my last point on this, is that I see brides pulling their sleeveless dresses up all day because the weight of the dress keeps pulling it downwards. For the Bride, it is not very pleasant to be preoccupied with this feeling of baring too much chest to the awaiting congregation!
3: Placement – This tip is particularly effective for those who have an issue with their nose or teeth on a particular side. I photographed a Bride recently who, in her words, “hated” looking at herself in photographs because her nose looked crooked on the right side. We decided that she would position herself on the left side of her Fiancé whenever being photographed so that when she looked towards him we would only see the left side of her nose. This was a girl who really wanted her photographs to be as natural as possible but knew she needed to put some thought into the process beforehand if she was to be happy with how she looked in her photographs. She was overjoyed with the results and she continues to use this tip!
4: The Plight of the Chin – Unless you are someone who has had a Sharon Osborne style facelift and your under chin flesh has been pulled back and tied up behind your ears, keep on reading…I am going to include myself in this particular plight in that I am not comfortable looking at photographs of myself with a cushion of flesh under my chin. I will always blame the angle I have been photographed at! which brings me to my next point that yes indeed, it is the job of the Photographer to know that you should be photographed from a higher point than where you are, and not from below, looking up to your chiny, chin chin! So if you see a Photographer doing a “dynamic” shot from a lying on the ground position, give him a kick (generally a him!) and tell him to have some consideration for your jaw line! Side profile shots may not work well for you either and your Photographer can use his/her expertise to figure this one out. Photographing from above is also a super flattering angle for anyone who feels they have a lazy eye, heavy eyelids (before consuming alcohol!) or is a squinter.
5: Accept the Balance – If you were to put natural photographs on one side of a weighing scales and photographs where you look good on the other side, which would outweigh the other? Think about this before meeting your Photographer for the first time, you might surprise yourself by the answer. It is possible to have both, provided you have an honest and open conversation with a Photographer who listens, who fully gets who you are and who ultimately is able to figure out how YOU need to be photographed. Do come clean with any fears that you have about being photographed, even if it is something as simple as just being nervous about the whole process. It is only then that you will give yourself and your Photographer the chance to develop a certain kind of trust between you that he/she will do a great job and that you receive the respect that you deserve.
“Pauline, We just wanted to say a huge thank you for our wedding
photos. To say we are blown away by the photos is an understatement. We
were all holding back tears when we first looked at them at your house and
even now, a few months on, we get emotional when we watch the slide show.
It’s clear from your website that you are a technically excellent
photographer but what has amazed us is how you have captured exactly what
we wanted when we weren’t quite sure ourselves! We really appreciated your
time, patience and guidance in the run up to the wedding and on the
day. Words cannot express how grateful we are. Thank you so much.”
Hanna Whitmore & Ryan Ross, Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney