Do you feel awkward in front of a camera?
Take a deep breath. Everybody gets this feeling, models included.
Before I share my tips and tricks, I believe it's helpful to start by trying to understand why we all feel like this when the camera is pointed our direction. Here are my unscientific thoughts on the topic:
- Paying Attention - During the course of our normal everyday lives, we put little to no thought into our body language. Am I slouching? Is my smile coming off as fake? What's my breathing pattern supposed to be?
- Because you're now sitting or standing directly in front of my camera, you have no choice to think (and sometimes over-think) what your face and body is doing. These thoughts are unnatural, therefore they make you look uncomfortable and slightly awkward.
- Focus - When you normally appear in photos, you're probably standing next to a friend or family member. Headshots don't typically allow for your friends to make a guest appearance, especially if they are for professional use.
- Now you're stuck with all of the attention and focus on you, what you're wearing and how you look. That's enough for anyone to feel intimidated, so you're not alone.
- Howdy Stranger - Chances are that this is our first time meeting. I don't know much about you and you probably don't know much about me. Essentially, we're strangers, with little to no distractions, who are now focusing our attention on you. This is a pretty uncommon situation so why wouldn't you feel awkward?
- Take solace in knowing that I'm not judging you, your clothing, your smile, etc. While it may appear that all of my attention is on you, I'm thinking a lot about the background, the lighting, camera settings and trying to articulate what I want/need you to do. Judgement doesn't even have room to fit on my radar during your session.
Feel better yet? Probably only a little, but now let's talk about what we can do during your session to better help you capture the best headshot we can create together.
First off, don't worry about your posture or what to do with your hands. That's my job and I'll be sure to assist you along the way. However, the best posture can be created by taking a deep breath in and letting 20% of it out. That will generally force your shoulders back and straighten your upper body. The 20% exhale will keep you from looking too stiff and posed. As far as your hands, keep them connected to your body. The position of your hands will largely depend on the look and feel that you want your Headshot to convey to your audience. I'll help you with that part.
The biggest complaint that I hear about why people disliked their previous headshot is generally because they feel that their facial expressions looked fake. If you're feeling uncomfortable and awkward, then a fake smile is pretty much guaranteed. To help combat that, we'll get to know each other the best we can while I'm setting up and testing our our lighting. Tell me about the things in your life that you care about. Dog person or cat? Where is your favorite travel destination? Have you ever ran a marathon? Talking about things that you like and are passionate about will help you feel more comfortable when I start taking pictures. Mainly because it puts you in a good mental space by talking about the things that are important to you. It also helps to make us less of strangers to each other. Plus, I really enjoy learning about people and their passions. If it feels too strange to tell me about yourself, feel free to ask me about my favorite places I've traveled or people I've met along the way.
I really hope this post helps you nail the headshot that you've been wanting. While keeping some of these things in mind when we start your headshot session, just remember that you're hiring a photographer to help you through this process as well. We do more than just set up lights and click a button.
Above all else......