What if I do not like my photograph taken?

December 2017

Top tips for the camera shy amongst us

  • I don't like being in front of the camera!
  • I don't like my photo taken!
  • I am really not photogenic!
  • I have never seen a good photo of myself!
  • I don't like posing!
  • The only good photo I know of myself is when I wasn't looking / not aware of it being taken!
  • I am worried about my nose/teeth/smile/spots, I don't have a "good side"

Sound familiar? Every single person who really objected to having their photo taken and tried to convince me they have never seen a good photo of themselves - I gently proved them wrong - by taking a stunning photo of them!

I know exactly how you feel though, and if it was up to me, the camera would never point my way! Years ago, I was struggling with being quite overweight, so I always ran away or hid when I saw a camera pointing my way.

The thing is nowadays, everyone is a photographer. Everyone always has a camera in their pocket: their mobile phone. And without being asked, we are now subjected to being photographed and - worse even - published online without our permission, only to find out later that we have been tagged in some random, and really bad photos taken at a party, in the dark, with a really bad mobile phone flash. All this confirms that in fact we are not photogenic, and no good photos exist of us.

And that's what I am trying to "fix"!

Let's go through the statements.

I don't like being in front of the camera!

I hear this regularly, most photographers do actually. The thing is, most skilled and experienced photographers only need a few minutes to make you feel totally at ease in front of the camera, and you will be absolutely surprised about that you did not think about the camera during the whole process.

So rather than overthinking it, that you have to do this thing, just go with the flow, let the photographer do their magic and be surprised!

I don't like my photo taken!

This is similar to "I don't like being in front of the camera". The reason being that you probably expect to see some cringe-worthy images of yourself which you wouldn't dare share with the world. After you have had your pre-wedding photo shoot, I can promise you - you will love the photos and use them as a screensaver on your phone, for thank-you cards, or the guest book on your wedding day!

I am really not photogenic!

"Photogenic" means a person looks particularly attractive in photographs.

When we buy a bridal magazine, or Hello, or Tatler, or any other big name, we will see a huge collection of stunning photographs of supermodels who suggest to use a certain type of makeup, fashion label, jewellery, or perfume and we will look and feel like them. Reality is - we don't. We look at photographs taken by our mum, or sister, or best friend, on their iPhone 4s, in a restaurant, under a 20W light bulb, and we really feel not photogenic at all!

During my time as a professional photographer, I have photographed thousands of people. It is my duty to "tickle out" the beauty of the person in front of the camera. Everyone has a particular smile, or a way they look, who they really are.

When I take photographs, I really want to connect with the person in front of the camera. The camera is simply a tool, my tool, that I use for my art to create portraits. My skill is connecting with the people, making them feel at ease, and trust me - you will too, if you let me!

I have never seen a good photo of myself!

This is another frequent comment, but how many of the photographs you have seen of yourself were taken by a skilled and professional photographer, someone who spent time with you, gotten to know you, and then created a set of absolutely stunning photographs you would be proud sending home to mum?

Good photography happens when there is a big element of trust between you and your photographer. When you feel totally at ease in front of the person and start to ignore the camera.

I don't like posing!

Almost every couple tells me they don't like posed photographs. This comment totally baffled me until very recently I fully understood what the feeling behind actually is.

You see, for photographers, to pose someone is the most natural thing. And most photographs that look stunning are posed somehow, or directed by a photographer to look a certain way. The way I "pose" my clients is by gently giving the tiniest bit of directions of what to do with hands, feet, where to look and so on. It doesn't feel like posing at all.

If you asked a professional photographer to just take photos and they would tell you to "do your thing", you probably wouldn't know what to do unless you have been in front of the camera many times. You would probably expect some sort of directions. So just think of posing as "following a few friendly directions" to make you look fantastic!

Here's what's wrong with posing:
That's when it clicked with me: I don't like posing either! We recently had our own pre-wedding photo session and a very dear friend suggested to take some photos of me in a studio setup. He asked me to sit in a certain way, and then he adjusted the lights. He then took a photo, and needed to adjust the lights even more. He then took more photos. During all this time I had to sit still, in the same pose, without moving my head or body, and after a while you just feel totally weird! Stiff, unnatural, POSED!

Another reason why you might get into a pose and the photographer does not "release" you from the pose is because they can see an absolutely outstanding photograph through the lens and they get what I call "click frenzy". They just have to keep re-taking the same photograph, adjusting tiny bits, resulting in you feeling POSED.

My style of taking photographs has never been like that - where I adjust to the nth degree until everything is perfect. My whole bride and groom session is one flow of lots of different things. I must admit I do get click frenzy occasionally, but you will then know - it's an awesome shot I am seeing!

Read my own experience from our own pre-shoot.

The only good photo I know of myself is when I wasn't looking / not aware of it being taken!

Most people think they look more natural when they are totally unaware of having their photograph taken. For example, you were at a wedding, and the photographer picked you out during the reception or speeches and took a nice photo of you "not looking" towards the camera. Basically you are unaware about a camera pointing your way, you do not feel the normal fear associated with having your photo taken.

It is absolutely possible to take photographs of you when you are aware of the camera, but still totally be yourself! It works, I have seen it many times.

When I take your photos, you will feel like there is no camera pointing your way, we are just having a chat, while I fiddle around with this thing and press the button (well, there is a lot more happening actually, but to you it will feel that way).

I am worried about my nose / teeth / smile / spots: I don't have a good side

Having your photo taken is a deeply personal thing and at every stage of the process, I am very aware of that. Some people might be worried about certain features in their face and would want to avoid a certain angle. I believe that everyone has got a "good side", unless you are one of those really rare people with a very symmetrical face, then you have two good sides!

We never really see ourselves as others see us: what we see is a mirror reflection, and we will always be inclined to think that that photo of you is "a bit strange". Think about this a little bit more: when you look in the mirror I bet you subconsciously tilt your face slightly to one side - the side you think looks best, and what you see in the mirror is as a result your best face. But, this is the wrong way round from how everyone else sees it. Now part of a photographers skill-set is to figure this out for you, and present it in the best way possible, it may still look that wee bit different, but it will be your best face.

Spots - can easily be erased in Photoshop, so please don't worry about that.
Nose / teeth / smile: I have had the chance to photograph a lot of people who told me their worries about certain features in their face. And so far I have always managed to make sure you like the photographs, by working with you and finding out what works best.

One bride was adamant that she did not want photos of her smiling with her teeth showing, as she was very self-conscious about her teeth. During the pre-shoot, I encouraged her to have some photos taken with her teeth showing, i.e. a wide smile, and also a few images with her mouth closed. She quickly realised that the "mouth-closed" images were way too forced looking and she totally relaxed into the shoot, smiling heartily.

Who is Nadin Dunnigan - Wedding Photographer in Edinburgh

Hey, I am Nadin! (same as "Nadine" - just without the "e"). I am a wedding photographer in Edinburgh, Scotland, specialising in big family weddings in Edinburgh, Scotland, and internationally. I have photographed so many weddings, and it is my mission to help couples with planning their dream wedding. Any questions I come across repeatedly - either in person or online, I will pop in here and provide more insight.

I hope you will find them useful :)

Nadin Dunnigan Photographer