What to Do if You're Camera Shy | A Guide For Parents

Prefer to watch? You can read the article that accompanies this video below.

If you freeze or move out of shot whenever a camera is pointed in your direction you’re not alone. Feeling camera shy is very normal and completely natural. Perhaps you’re the one always taking the photographs, and have hundreds of photographs of your children, but not many with you in them.

But what about those times in life that just call to be documented? Perhaps the birth of your first child, each of your children’s birthdays, or first days at school?

As mothers we go through incredible changes in the early years of our children’s lives. After the birth of our children most of us feel big, bloated and oh so tired. The next few months are not much better as we adjust to sleepless nights and a permanently changed body shape.

Given all of this, it’s understandable that you might not feel comfortable being photographed. But it’s also important to ask how you would feel in 20 years time if you didn’t have any photographs of these special moments that included you?

Chances are you will want to have these precious memories documented. So how can you overcome the feelings of being camera shy, and confidently get in front of the camera? Here are 8 strategies you can use:

  1. Practice having your photograph taken at every opportunity
  2. Recognise that even if you don’t like a photograph immediately, you might like it later
  3. Choose your photographer carefully
  4. Visualise the photo shoot going well
  5. Allow plenty of time for your photo shoot
  6. Have something to do whilst you’re being photographed
  7. Ask the photographer for direction
  8. Give your photographer feedback

Let’s take a look at these in closer detail.

 

Practice having your photograph taken at every opportunity

If you’re uncomfortable in front of the camera, chances are you probably avoid it at all costs – perhaps you’re the one amongst your friends or family who’s always taking the photos instead.

But, like most things in life the more often you have your photograph taken, the more comfortable it will become.

So whenever there’s an opportunity for a photograph, take it! Whether it’s you snapping a selfie with your baby, or having someone else take a photograph for you don’t shy away from the opportunity.

Whilst you’re practising you might find these tips on looking good in photos helpful.

 

Recognise that even if you don’t like a photograph immediately, you might like it later

Have you ever looked at a photograph of yourself and hated it, and then looked at it again a few years later and realised that you actually looked pretty good? I know I have.

We are all our own worst critics. We look at photographs of other people and think how great they look, and then we look at photographs of ourselves and pick over every flaw. We might even delete it.

But chances are, you’ll look back at that same photograph in a few years and see something completely different.

Take the photograph below. My husband took this photograph in the first hour after my daughter was born. I absolutely hated it, and I made him swear not to show it to anyone else. All I could see was how bloated and tired I was.

Fast forward four years and I am so pleased that we have this photograph! Yes I was bloated and tired, and had no makeup on. But if I had made him delete it I wouldn’t have this precious memory of my daughter’s first hour with me.

So even if you’re convinced that you won’t like the photographs you have taken, remember that you may feel quite differently in a year or two, and might feel glad that you did.


 

Choose your photographer carefully

Chemistry plays a big role in how relaxed you’re going to feel during your photo shoot. Find a photographer who you ‘click’ with, whose approach suits you and who you get along with, and chances are you’ll be starting the shoot from a comfortable place.

Finding out whether that chemistry is there is a good first step to making sure you’ll feel relaxed on the day.

I always talk to my clients at least once or twice on the phone before a session, and ideally one of these times is before they book. It gives me an opportunity to understand the client, their personality and what they’re hoping for from the session. Importantly it also gives my clients a chance to get to know me, and make a decision about whether they’d like to hire me.

Use this opportunity to find out how the photographer works, see whether you get along easily with them, and importantly whether you trust them to do a great job.

 

Visualise The Photo Shoot Going Well

Many athletes use visualisation to prepare for a game or a race – Wayne Rooney apparently visualises himself scoring goals the night before a game, and before the 2012 Olympics Jessica Ennis Hill said “I use visualisation to think about the perfect technique. If I can get that perfect image in my head, then hopefully it’ll affect my physical performance.”

This may be a bit too woo-woo for some, but it’s actually a tactic I use myself when I have to do something I’m nervous about. I try to spend time imagining the event going brilliantly – what I’ll be doing, what I’ll be saying and how I’ll be feeling. I always find that things go much better when I do this – probably because I’m not approaching them as a bag of nerves.

If you want to give it a try, think about what would happen if the photo shoot went really brilliantly; what would you be doing, what would you be saying and how would you be feeling?

Try to revisit this as often as you can in the run up to it.

 

Allow Plenty Of Time For Your Photo Shoot

None of us are likely to feel relaxed in front of the camera if we’re against the clock.

I recommend keeping the rest of the day free when you have a photo shoot booked, so that you have time to prepare for the shoot without rushing, and aren’t worrying about what time it is whilst you’re being photographed.

I usually find that my clients relax more and more as the shoot goes on so allowing plenty of time should mean you aren’t clock-watching and can relax and enjoy the experience more.

Esher Newborn Baby Photographer Clare Murthy

Have Something To Do Whilst You’re Being Photographed

Having something to do, that distracts you from the camera focussed on you can be a great tactic for overcoming camera shyness.

If you’re not sure what, talk to your photographer; perhaps you can focus on looking at and cuddling your baby, rather than looking at the camera. If you’re having a family photo shoot, what games could you play with your children that will make it easy for both you and the photographer?

For those times when you just have to stand still and smile at the camera, having something in your hands can help to relieve the awkwardness. Something as simple as holding one of your children, or leaning your hands on the back of a chair can be all it takes.

 

Ask For Direction

Hopefully your photographer will spend the session talking to you constantly! There’s nothing worse than an awkward silence to make you feel uncomfortable, so most photographers will deliberately talk non-stop.

Hopefully some of this conversation will involve your photographer giving you direction on exactly what to do – they have the benefit of seeing the whole picture from behind the camera, and can direct you to perfect it. And if your photographer isn’t giving you direction, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

 

Give The Photographer Feedback

On a similar note, don’t be afraid to tell your photographer if something isn’t working for you.

If you’re feeling particularly uncomfortable about a pose or shot let the photographer know so you can work together to find a better way. If that chemistry that we talked about earlier is there this shouldn’t be a problem at all.

 

Over To You

I know first hand how uncomfortable it can feel to be in front of the camera. I definitely went through a phase of avoiding it, and deleting half of the photographs that my husband took of me and my daughter during her first year.

But looking back I can see how precious it is to have these memories documented. Not just for me, but for my daughter too. With practice it’s getting easier to be in front of the camera more, and I hope that it becomes that way for you too.

I’d love to hear how you get on with putting these tips into practice, and I hope they help you to feel relaxed and appear in more of your family photographs. Let me know how you get on in the comments below, or send me a message here.

 

Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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