Written by Isiah Kurz

Despite working as the business manager for Love & Latitudes Outdoor Elopement Photography, I’m fairly camera shy. It’s not that I don’t like photographs. It’s just that I hate being the center of attention. I am deeply introverted, which can come off as aloof or even awkward when I’m caught by the camera lens.

But having dated and eventually married a photographer, this is something I’ve had to overcome.

There are three things to remember when getting your photos done:

  1. Once you become more relaxed in front of the camera, your authentic self will shine through.
  2. You’re not alone. Everyone feels self-conscious sometimes.
  3. If you don’t know what to do, put your trust in the photographer.

I Rarely Saw Photos Growing Up

When I entered college, one of the icebreaker questions I encountered was “what is one thing your family did that you assumed was normal until you learned otherwise?”

People had some interesting responses. But my answer centered around photographs.

College was the first time I saw people take photos of themselves and then look at them the very next day. I thought this was super weird because, in my family, my mom would take the photos on a film camera and then either develop the film years later or not at all. So, when I saw people taking selfies and then looking at them the very next day, it struck me as odd. After all, you know what you looked like yesterday. Why do you need to see the photos so soon?

I quickly realized that I was the weird one. Because, as people retorted, “Why would you take a photo to never look at it?” I had no response to that.

Photos Make Other People Happy

One of my favorite philosophers Marcus Aurelius said, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” As a Stoic, Aurelius believed that by tempering our emotions, we could let reason shine through. This helps us to be more moral and less reactive.

Of course, Aurelius is hardly the apt philosopher for an engagement photography business. Nevertheless, there is some helpful medicine in his ideas for a camera-shy person like myself.

While I might not be thrilled with being the center of attention, I recognize that my partner derives great joy from being photographed together or using me as a model in our outdoor adventures. By tempering my reactive nature (not wanting photos due to my own perceived awkwardness and inner turmoil), I can make her happy and capture special moments at the same time (spreading joy and creating art are moral acts).

Resisting photos would only cause tension between my partner and me.

When it comes to photographing our clients during an engagement, wedding, or elopement shoot, the same principles apply.

A camera-shy couple walks hand in hand on a cliffside in northern California.
A camera-shy expecting couple sits together in a pumpkin patch in northern California.
A camera-shy couple holds hands in Saguaro National Park in Arizona.

You’re Not Alone, Even John Lennon Felt Awkward Sometimes

Another lesson I’ve learned as a camera-shy individual is that everyone feels awkward in front of a camera. Okay, well not everyone. Obviously, some people love photographs of themselves and social media is a testament to this fact. But still, everyone feels awkward in front of the camera sometimes.

Just because you are camera shy, doesn’t excuse you from taking photos with friends and family members during such special moments as an engagement or a wedding.

What really woke me up to this idea was learning that John Lennon of The Beatles was sometimes camera shy. Yes, seriously!

We’ve all seen the photo of John Lennon wearing a white T-shirt reading “NEW YORK CITY” in black letters. Here’s a bit of background:

“[It was the summer of 1974.] Lennon needed a cover image and press photos for the new album, but he also wanted to get back to the studio. He’d worked with [Bob] Gruen and knew he would shoot fast.

‘It was a beautiful, sunny day,’ says May Pang, Lennon’s companion at the time. ‘John smoked his French Gauloises and drank lots of strong coffee.’

Gruen asked Lennon to put on a T-shirt he’d bought on the sidewalk for $5—white with NEW YORK CITY in bold black type, the black sleeves cut off with a buck knife for a tougher effect. It seemed right: ‘John had been in the city awhile,’ says Gruen. ‘He was becoming a New Yorker.’

One of the shots captures Lennon pale and unsmiling, his arms folded across his stomach. ‘That was his street stance,’ says Pang. ‘John was self-conscious about the cutoff sleeves, but I assured him it was fine.’

How incredible is that? John Lennon, arguably one of the most famous faces in the world, felt awkward taking one of the most iconic photos of all-time.

Which leads me to my final point...

Trust Your Photographer to Make You Look Good

If you can’t beat that awkward feeling, just trust your photographer.

Your photographer wants to make you look your best. After all, they want to produce photos to your satisfaction and to showcase how their work reflects on them. Trust their expertise.

Better still, your photographer has the educated perspective to direct you. There’s no counting the number of sly tricks your photographer employs to get the best photos. Some of these include telling you to look at each other’s foreheads, extend the chin or gaze into the distance at nothing at all (or me jingling my keys to make you laugh).

Put all together, these three tips can help you overcome your anxiety, and if not overcome at least manage during the shoot.

Looking to book a wedding/elopement, engagement session, or family photoshoot? Send your inquiries to Love and Latitudes Outdoor Wedding and Elopement Photography today!

A camera-shy couple locks eyes in Mammoth Lakes, California.
A camera-shy couple kisses at a pumpkin patch in northern California.
A camera-shy expecting couple poses for the camera in Northern California.

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