Their love story began on the campus of SUNY Geneseo. A chance meeting in the dining hall led to a beautiful friendship, which eventually led to their first date: dinner at Applebees and a movie (which is apparently a very typical first date in the town of Geneseo due to the lack of restaurant options!). When Katie told me that they wanted to do their engagement session on their old college campus and around town, I was all in. What could be more perfect than going back to where it all began?
I am a huge believer in the energy of places and spaces, so choosing a shoot location with sentimental value is always a great idea. In fact, I have a whole page in my Engagement Session Style Guide dedicated to the how to’s of choosing a location, and there is definitely a section on sentimental value. Whenever Ben and I have family photos taken, we have them taken in our home because it’s such a special place for us, and I think that feeling of “specialness” really comes across in the images captured. The same was true of Katie and Michael’s session. You can see not only how special they are to each other, but also how special it was for them to be together in the place where they fell in love. I’m not sure it gets much cuter than this. :)
If there’s one thing I know for sure about our couples after all these years, it’s that they feel a little bit awkward in front of a camera. 99% of the time, I hear at least one of the following phrases: “We just aren’t photogenic. He blinks in every photo. We’re so awkward in pictures. I never know what to do with my hands.”
I think our very relaxed, documentary style of photography tends to attract people who want stunning wedding photos without having to do much “posing,” because let’s face it, “workin’ it” in front of a camera can, in fact, be super awkward, even if you’re not an awkward person.
I mean, I don’t consider myself to be an awkward person. I am an extrovert through and through; but I am SO camera-awkward that it hurts. The first time that Ben and I were photographed as a couple, I was so nervous that I downed an entire pitcher of margs before heading out. Thankfully, we had awesome photographers who made us laugh a ton and look natural despite the fact that I was basically drunk throughout our entire shoot. #notrecommended
Over the years, I have really perfected my “posing” skills, and have mastered techniques to make even the most camera-awkward people look and feel like they get photographed for a living. The secret is to work them in and out of “poses” quickly, before they have time to think about feeling awkward. I keep the excitement level high by giving lots of “actions” to carry out, and shooting the moments in between. I will typically run through anywhere from 10-15 “actions” every time I photograph a couple, and they have become such an important part of the process I use to make everyone feel completely relaxed and at ease. You get constant direction for what to do along with a ton of positive reinforcement, so your brain never has a chance to wonder how you look on camera, and that, my friends, is when the real magic happens.
So, if you’re self-conscious about your camera-awkwardness, welcome to the club, my friend; you’re in good company. And this is your lucky day, because I’m going to share 3 of the most effective tricks I use during shoots that relax my couples into looking totally natural EVERY SINGLE TIME! If your engagement session or wedding day is fast approaching and you’re dreading being in front of a camera, screen-shot these tricks and make them your go-to actions; I promise you’ll feel at least 97% less awkward immediately. Ready? Let’s dive in!!
Mindreading – Stand facing your partner with your arms around each other. Close your eyes and think (to yourself) of a number or a color or whatever you decide. (I usually go with colors!) Then, open your eyes (looking at each other) and take turns trying to guess what your partner thought of! This is a fun exercise because whether you guess correctly or not, it will still make you smile. ;)
Whispering – Whisper in your partner’s ear very quietly, “If you were a food, you would be…” or “if you were an animal you would be…” These might sound ridiculous, but they are hilarious, and I have the photos to prove it.
Dance – You can slow dance or fast dance or crazy dance or whatever makes you happiest! The important thing is to connect with each other. Make eye contact while dancing. Laugh!! Show off your best moves! I use this one at almost every wedding and every engagement session, because the results are always so, so good.
No matter who is behind the camera, you can use these 3 strategies to kick your camera-awkwardness to the curb, and make yourselves look natural, relaxed, and completely in love anytime, anyplace! Whether you’re a bride-to-be or a photographer interested in capturing more natural, joyful moments, I’d love to hear what you think of these 3 tips. Let me know in the comments below!!