In the age of Instagram and Pinterest, sometimes it's easy to get lost in the sea of lifestyle bloggers documenting their picture-perfect life online. But if you don't have long tan legs, freshly balayaged hair, or the makeup skills of Nikkie Tutorials, does that mean that you aren't photogenic?
This weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a very sweet and shy couple (who, I might add, have given me some of my favorite photos to date) and one of the first things they admitted to me was that this engagement session wasn't entirely their idea. Their friends had talked them into it, though they expressed to me that they may not have thought to do so otherwise, as they didn't feel they were very photogenic.
Each time I meet a new couple, I'm never hunting for a certain level of physical appearance; I rarely even know what my clients look like until the day of our shoot. What I'm searching for is to capture the emotions they feel for each other, and why they've gotten engaged to begin with.
Occasionally, this is easier said than done, as some clients are more quick to open up in front of a stranger than others. But I don't get discouraged because even for the more reserved couples, I know that this love and excitement is in there, even if it means I need to shovel through their shyness. No one becomes engaged and pays a pretty penny for a full photoshoot unless they have something worth capturing, so I dig deeper until I find it.
Even as a photographer, I'm all too aware of how awkward it can feel to be in front of a camera, especially when it's not myself taking a selfie with my own phone. We perceive ourselves entirely differently when looking through candid images, and we all know how it feels to be tagged in an unflattering Facebook photo.
But unlike those images you're secretly untagging yourself from, there's a few things to keep in mind about getting a photography session done that might be of comfort. You are, of course, getting your photos taken by a professional, who likely has a high-quality camera and is skilled with retouching and color-correcting software – unlike Debbie, who took an unexpected photo of you at the office party, with your mouth half open using her grainy cell phone.
As well, your photographer can guide you through poses and angles that will universally work well on anyone, and is also knowledgable about where to position you so the lighting will look the most flattering. (If you're interested in learning about lighting, read here!)
Another thing I always encourage and welcome, is to spend a moment on sites like Pinterest to gain a little inspiration (more on this topic here!) We like you to feel like the shoot isn't just something that's happening to you, but that you can participate in creating if you want. Something that might make a client feel more comfortable is if she sees a few engagement photos online she really liked and wanted to try to recreate a similar pose.
But, it's also okay if this isn't your style. My even bigger piece of advice is very simple – to just be yourselves! At the end of the day, there's really no pose I can give you that will replace the candidness you express with each other. A lot of the time, that involves pretending I'm not there. I want you to simply be you – be silly, be cuddly, be downright disgustingly mushy if you want; as a photographer, I'm utterly incapable of getting uncomfortable. These are the moments I live to capture! I don't need you to be photogenic according to the rules that society's laid out, I just need you to be unapologetically you as a couple.
When you look up the word photogenic, you get two definitions. The first one is more or less what we'd expect it to be – "looking attractive in photographs or film". Then there's the second definition, which is a biology term referring to an organism that is "producing or emitting light" – this is the definition I'd like you to focus on. When you look at each other, do you remember all of the reasons that led up to this moment? Are you excited for all of the adventures to come? Are you emitting light? Then you are as photogenic as any photographer could possibly ask you to be.
Morgan Ofsharick specializes in proposal, engagement, wedding, maternity, newborn, and family portrait photography, servicing New Haven, Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, Litchfield, and plenty of other regions around Connecticut! –MEO Photography