Not a Natural Thing
One of the reasons Photography is such a powerful art form is that it enables us to freeze any moment of our lives and secure any emotion we once felt down to a given fraction of a second. But, unfortunately, this magical phenomenon is also what scares us.
We all aspire and deserve to look our best in front of others, and if we are going to be photographed, we suddenly feel this pressure that we cannot control what the camera sees, leaving us unsure and rather anxious it will not record our best smile, our best profile… in a nutshell: the best version of ourselves.
So yes, it is time we admit once and for all that being in front of a camera is not natural; it is daunting. None of us are natural-born models. And to make matters worse, we dread the idea of being posed by the photographer. They will ask us to be someone else, smile on demand, and put our limbs and body in very awkward and uncomfortable positions, which we already know, will result in awful photographs that won’t be the natural storytelling and compelling photographs of ourselves we dream and deserve. But what shall we do since we still want to secure the memories of our wedding day in photographs?
Candid Photography is a Fool's Gold
Some inexperienced seasonal photographers have done the maths and concluded that to get the best out of us, the true naturally beautiful we, the photographs have to be captured candidly. Meaning the subject should not be aware they are being photographed. It makes sense; if you don’t know you are being photographed, then the pressure is lifted, and you will smile only naturally, express your emotions freely and all that will result in the most compelling photographs ever.
Well, it is not so simple, and this reasoning does not hold for long, especially for an event like a wedding.
If being a wedding photographer is about being entirely non-intrusive, like a fly on the wall that snaps all day at all the candid subjects, then anyone could do it, and sadly many try. These photographers will even play on our evident anxiety of being in front of a camera to reassure us that they will not even try to pose us. They do not want to change us; they do not want to interfere because we are great naturally. But this somewhat charming attempt to reassure us hides a dark secret: They do not want to pose us because they do not know how. They do not understand what posing even is. They may have tried following some online guide or cheat sheet downloaded off the internet that shows 40 different poses, which they failed to reproduce.
What is Posing Really About?
Posing is not about imposing a posture. These photographers failed to reproduce the cheat sheet poses because they forgot one fundamental aspect of photography: knowing your subject. We all have different body shapes and sizes, and a pose that works for one individual may not be suited for another. Clothing also dramatically affects whether a posture can be visually pleasing or even feasible. Posing is about understanding the person in front of us. Their personality, body, complexion, insecurity… Then it is about helping that person improve their natural posture as they would if faced with a mirror. A Wedding IS NOT a PHOTOSHOOT! It is pointless and disrespectful to want to change the individual into someone they are not. It is your wedding, your story, and you are the main character of it. But as a Master Photographer specialising in wedding and portraiture, I firmly believe it is my responsibility to explain and make you aware of how your natural posture can be dramatically improved by simply adjusting it slightly.
This is why I have created my Engagement Shoot over the years and included it in my most popular Wedding Collection.
Engagement Shoot by Tom Migot Photography
Contrary to what one may think, this is not just another photoshoot that precedes your wedding. Firstly, it takes place where you feel at peace and comfortable. It can be the countryside, the Scottish hills, the woodland, the beach or even the city. It will last an average of 3-4 hours. This alone gives us a fantastic opportunity to get to know one another better and create a trusting bond that will be invaluable on the wedding day.
We first start by catching up on any updates regarding the wedding preparations. We then begin our training session. I usually start with photographing the groom without any guidance. Then I tweak his posture slightly, photograph him again, and we analyse the before and after together. We carry on with different scenarios where we adjust what comes naturally each time while always backing it up with an understanding of the reason behind the chance.
Then it is time to practice with the bride alone. While many of the adjustments can be applied to both of them, certain amendments are specific to her, her body shape, the dress she secretly showed me a picture of and even her shoes.
Once the individual phase is completed, we focus on the couple. How to stand as a couple. While in phase one, I concentrated on assessing the boundaries of each individual; here, we discuss their usual behaviour as a couple, such as holding hands, hugging or kissing in public. Not everyone is comfortable showing emotion or romance in public. As the photographer who will spend 12-14 hours with the bride on the wedding day, I must know all this. So we even practise walking as a couple so the stroll, while natural, is kept at a slow enough pace to convey their romance. Once the training is complete, we take photos while navigating (in the park, on the beach…). We do this for a few hours, and very quickly, the repetitiveness of the “poses” leads both participants to adjust their posture by themselves. The anxiety of being in front of the camera is now long gone. It has been replaced by fun and banter where we play with photographs, experimenting and unleashing a creative collaboration that will last until the very last minute of the wedding day.
Seize the Unique Opportunity
When the big day comes, not only do we know each other very well, but we are all eager to have fun. The couple is not only camera aware; it is camera ready. So we are prepared to have fun. And because of the experience gained during the Engagement Shoot, the Formals go smoothly, and we do not struggle to create memorable and dramatic photos that will end up on the walls.
A wedding is one of the most significant and unique events in one’s life. Hence we are so eager to secure its moments in the best way possible, with photographs. But if we put aside the significance of a wedding and focus solely on its logistical aspect, it is undeniably a unique event. There are no other opportunities in life where
- you and your partner are both pampered
- You are both wearing beautiful garments
- You are surrounded by the people you love and cherish
- Everyone is gathered in a location you chose that resonates with you
- The day is filled with joy and love
- You have hired a professional photographer
Hence you must seize that opportunity to secure the memories of that memorable day and even create magic in photographs. So while I value some candid photos throughout a wedding, relying solely on those to fulfil an album or get compelling and storytelling photographs is simply fool’s gold. We have no control over microexpression or the behaviour of all parties involved to guarantee the emotion will be shown at the right time without disruption.
So often have I been contacted by couples who chose the whole candid approach only to be devastated upon collecting the resulting photos. These couples admit not having any photographs worth to be hung on their wall or used for a wedding album. Yet, ironically, these couples were usually given hundreds of photos by the photographer. I find this infuriating, and it is with great honour that I work with them to create, although much too late, the photographs they deserved all along.
How about you?
If you, too, have found your life partner and neither of you is a professional model but still wish to secure your wedding with compelling storytelling photographs, don’t hesitate to contact me. I believe I can help you. Photography is a blessing and should never be a source of any anxiety or stress. This is why you can always trust the experience of a qualified Master Photographer.