The key to great candid and bridal portrait shots: don’t look at the camera

In America, from the time we are born we are told to say “CHEESE” for the camera. I don’t know if in other countries they are told to say “fromage” or “queso”, probably not since the point of saying cheese is to get shape of the mouth when we say EEEEEEE. This habit of saying “Cheese” for the camera has resulted in people getting a lot of cheesy photographs. Most all my couples and their guests have the natural reaction of, oh there’s the camera, let me stop what I’m doing and turn and smile big for it! But when it comes time to pick the shots for the album, most of my clients don’t pick these shots with the big cheesed out grins. They pick the FAR more natural ones that I caught of them during a candid moment. The best shots tend to be when the couple is naturally interacting with one another. This is why during a portrait session I will generally get a couple into a nice pose, but then ask them to just talk about their day, remember a story that made them laugh, or just to enjoy the moment and to hold each other close.

Here are just a few examples of the types of beautiful shots you can get when you aren’t concerned about smiling pretty for the camera.

There are 2 notable exceptions to this rule of no intentional direct eye contact with the camera. During traditional group photos it is paramount that everyone be looking directly at the camera. If they are not, then it leaves you wondering, what was that one rogue person looking at, and it ruins the shot. The other is if your photographer asks you to look directly at the camera. We still probably want to get at least a few of those cheesy big smile shots. Or we may want to capture a close up shot of your beautiful eyes. Whatever the case may be, if the photographer says look here at me, then follow suit. Otherwise, just be yourself, and don’t feel compelled to keep smiling like the cheshire cat at the photographer.

The same rules should apply to guests as well. When I’m a guest at a party, if I catch a photographer about to snap a shot of me from the corner of my eye, I don’t turn and smile for them unless they ask me to. Instead, the only change I make is to stand up a little straighter so that my posture is better. Guests should also not instruct children that are being photographed (outside of group photographs of course) to turn and smile for the camera. Often children are blissfully unaware of the camera until someone points the camera out to them, and then that beautiful natural moment is lost to camera shyness or mugging for the camera.

So on the day of your wedding, remember the day is all about you two and seeing all your family and friends, not about saying cheese for the camera. That way you can relax and enjoy your day more and we can capture more heartfelt beautiful images of you enjoying your incredibly special day.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Creative Expressions Photography

    Some of the best shots are when your clients DON’t “look at the camera” and say “Cheese!”…

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