As a photographer, it is your job to bring out the best in people. This can be particularly true of a wedding photographer. Everyone needs to look their absolute best on wedding photographs, but when you are faced with a camera shy bride who would rather run away from the camera than say cheese, that can be a difficult objective to achieve.
So, how do you make shy people relax and allow them to let you photograph them without grimacing?
It’s all to do with their psychology. If they naturally freeze in front of a camera, then you need to work with them to make them feel like they are not in front of a camera. This may mean being as discreet as possible, and lurking in the shadows, rather than pointing the lens in their face every time they move. It could mean making them feel comfortable in your presence, as it may be the fact that a stranger is the one taking pictures.
Having the ability to make a person laugh can work wonders for their ability to relax and become more natural. If you have a few jokes up your sleeve, or you can be quick witted, or clown around, these may all be things that allow the bride, or bridesmaid, or other camera shy guest to lower their guard. As you won’t know the people you will be working with in advance, you won’t always know which approach is going to work best. For this reason, be prepared for a little trial and error.
The next thing is to try and work out why they are afraid of the camera. Is it because they are uncomfortable with the way they look? Do they have what they would believe to be imperfections that photographs always seem to emphasise, and this is why they would rather not be in shot. If this is the case, then one way to make them more comfortable with the camera would be to do a few test shots. Try and get one that doesn’t bring out their insecurities and show them it. This will make them believe that you are capable of bringing out their best features, and will allow them to relax a little in front of you.
If you photograph the subject in a real life situation, rather than making them strike a pose for you, this could also enable you to get the best and most natural poses. When they are talking amongst friends, or walking across the patio, they are much more likely to be themselves, and will be unaware that they are being photographed.
You also need to encourage them that shyness can be could. Actually shyness can look attractive on photographs, as it gives the person an air of humility and fragility. Sometimes this can look much better than a confident poser, and this is what the shy person should be reminded of as it may help give them a little more confidence to just be themselves and allow their natural character to come across.
Whatever else happens, make sure you do not allow the subject to be in silence while you photograph as this can simply have the effect of building up tension, which will lead to them feeling uncomfortable and you not being able to get the shot.
With regards to brides and grooms, and even potentially bridesmaids, it may be a good idea to offer a trial photography session before the actual wedding. This will give you the opportunity to discover their needs and how to bring out their best features. It will also take some of the pressure off on the actual day. Finally, it will make the bride and groom relax more with you on the actual day as they will feel like they know you a little better, and will also trust you to get the right shot.