Role Reversal: Our Experience on the Other Side of the Camera
Like all things in our wedding planning world, our engagement session was not what we thought it would be.
We have been on the other side of the camera before, during headshot or content sessions. But it did not prepare us for a whole session! Not going to lie, it is awkward!
That said, we do understand the importance of engagement sessions. Even though we have been on the other side of Paige’s camera before, and we know her quite well. The practice is more than worth it.
And it’s so valuable now to really be able to empathize with our couples.
There are a few things that I really get now, that before I didn’t even consider!
First off, there are a million things to think about.
It’s undeniable that as soon as a camera is on you, you become so aware of every little thing about you! I envy the people who don’t shift and change when a camera is held up in front of them. It happens to so many of us!
We’re lucky that Paige has a hands on posing system, very similar to ours! And part of that process with being hands on with posing is directing every part of our couples. From the direction your toes should point to where your gaze should be. Even how your hand should sit!
So while we’re thinking, “okay wait how do my arms hand down naturally again?? Did they ever do that!?” Paige is also directing us so we have to think about that too!
Then there are the things you can’t really direct, like how your hair looks, your posture, the way your dress is lying. Unfortunately, those things are definitely front of mind when you’re staring into that camera!
And THEN once you’ve got all that stuff down you’re like, okay time to be breezy and laugh with my fiancé!
So, now I can really say: I GET IT! The more time and care you put into the details of your engagement session, the more things you have to focus on while you’re in it. Just like your wedding day! The harder you plan, the higher your expectations.
Here are my two main takeaways from having our own engagement session:
The entire session experience matters a thousand percent. It rings so true that the way you felt when a photo was taken dictates how little or how much you’ll like the photo.
If I was feeling insecure about a pose, or was frustrated by my hair – even if objectively the photo is beautiful, it was still not one of my favorites.
So while half of it is trying not to get into your own head so much, the other half is how the person behind the camera treats you!
Think back to the last time a friend took a photo of you. If they just stand there, looking at the phone while you smile in front of them, you feel super awkward right??
But now imagine the friend who stands back and gushes over how you look! The friend who cheers and compliments and gases you up, while taking a million photos.
You will always love that second photo of yourself way more. It might be because that cheering made you give a genuine laugh and you look extra cute. But I bet you it’s because you’re vicariously feeling that same level of confidence and adoration from the moment it was taken!
That said, shooting style is so important.
One of main reasons we booked Paige over other photographers that we’re not as familiar with, is because we know how similar our experiences are to hers! By that I mean she is encouraging and constantly talking to you during your session. That is seriously invaluable!
As someone who is not uber confident in front of the camera, I was not willing to risk this. I needed to know that our photographer’s shooting style was hands on, encouraging, and similar to what we’re used to! So thank goodness we found Paige!
So here is my advice, from one side of the camera to the other.
First, if the experience is important to you, ask your photographer their shooting style and specifically how involved they are during portraits. Words to listen for are posing system, hands on, and involved.
There is nothing wrong with the photography style that is specifically hands off. Not trying to throw any shade, I promise.
But in my humble opinion, there’s a minority of people that thrive in that scenario. If you feel comfy cool in front of the camera, and you’re well versed in how to flatter your own self on camera, then you will end up in super cute, candid photos that are fun and breezy.
But if I imagine myself in that scenario, all the photos would be cringy. And you know why? It wouldn’t be any fault of the photographer. It would be because I would feel cringy during that whole session. And that’s how I would look back on all those photos. Again, at no fault to the photographer!
If you know yourself and know you’re prone to awkwardness (hi, me), do yourself a favor and double check that your photographer can walk you through the whole session.
Second: prepare as much as you can, but when the moment comes just relax!
Have faith in your photographer, have faith in all the work you did to prepare.
Get your hair done so you don’t have to fuss over it. Do your make-up so you can be confident in how you look. Pick a flattering outfit so you don’t have to worry how your arms look in a certain pose. Get your ring cleaned so you get that extra sparkle on camera.
Prep absolutely as much as you can, so that when the time comes, you don’t have to worry about what you did or didn’t do.
Then when you step in front of the camera, forget it all. Try to clear your mind as best you can. Listen to your photographer. Gaze up at your fiancé, and laugh through any tension or awkwardness you might feel.
I promise you, even if your hair is a little off, or your foot looks weird because you were walking funny, if you’re relaxed you won’t even care when you look back at your photos.
Because you’ll just feel that relaxed, happy way you did when you let go and let your photographer take the reins.
That’s the best advice I’ve got!!
Wednesday evening, Paige and I will be going live to chat more about this! As both photographers, besties, and now bride + vendor, we certainly have a lot to chat about!! I’ll be announcing more about that tomorrow, but stay tuned!