As we live in the age of disclaimers, here we go:
1) The aim of this article is to help people who are extremely self-critical and concerned that they won’t love their wedding photos because of it – it does not promote the idea that people should be hyper-critical of their bodies and general appearance, simply that it’s normal if they are.
2) The images I chose for this article are NOT of my self-conscious clients and do not relate to the topic of the article, for obvious reasons – these are simply a random selection of photos to help me illustrate my points.
And now that’s out of the way, let’s talk.
First things first, being nervous and unusually self-conscious before your wedding is nothing out of the ordinary. In the world of poreless celebrities and Facetune, it is very normal to feel the pressure to look perfect on what people will tell you is going to be ‘the best day of your life’.
So if you are feeling like those small insecurities you have had since you were a teenager are suddenly getting amplified in the run-up to the big day – don’t worry, you are not alone. And as a professional wedding photographer, I am here to offer you three steps to making sure you get the best photographs from your special day if you are self-conscious!
1) Choose a photographer whose photos of PEOPLE you love
When choosing your wedding photographer, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the sea of beautiful photographs you will see on Instagram accounts – and it’s easy to get distracted by aesthetically pleasing images that don’t contain people at all. As your brain automatically fills in the blanks, you imagine that the same attention and care that was put into a photograph of some flowers, trees or sunsets will automatically apply to the images of you on your wedding day – flawless, dreamy, perfect in every way.
But please know: photographing inanimate objects that don’t move takes a very different set of skills to photographing a real person, especially if they are worried about how they will look in the images. As human beings, we blink, we move, we have good and bad angles, good and bad skin days and, most importantly, we have a very clear idea of what we want to look like in a photograph.
So please don’t just simply book the first photographer that works in a visually pleasing colour palette and hope for the best. When you find a photographer whose style you like, go through their portfolio more carefully, critically focusing on full weddings and analysing the photographs of real brides and grooms by imagining yourself in their place. It is absolutely possible to love the colours in a photo, adore the creative idea and the location it was taken in, yet realise that the photo is completely unflattering for the people in it. And since the point of having a photographer at your wedding is to have great photos of you and your loved ones – put yourself into the bride’s or groom’s shoes and ask yourself – ‘If this was a photo of me, would I love it?’
2) Be honest with your photographer
As wedding photographers, we have heard it all, so it won’t be an odd request for you to say that you would rather be primarily photographed from a certain side or that you are self-conscious when it comes to a particular part of your body – it’s much more common than you think and this information will be extremely valuable when planning your wedding coverage. Believe me, it’s much easier for your photographer to simply position themselves from your preferred side as much as possible during the day than to receive the soul-crushing email a few months later saying that you were unhappy with your photos and wished they had taken them from a completely different angle, all simply because you didn’t let them know ahead of time that you always automatically hate photos that show your left ear.
So please don’t expect your photographer to read your mind and photograph you the way you would ideally want to be photographed – be open and give them as much information as possible! And if you would rather not share your possible insecurities during your consultation with your partner present, email or call your photographer privately.
Remember, our job as wedding photographers is to capture your happiness in priceless photographs you’ll cherish forever – so if there is something we should know, please tell us and help us create the wedding images you will love!
3) Ask your photographer if they will be able to do specific retouching
Whether you are worried about a pimple ruining your close-ups or the way your body looks from your least favourite angle, ask your chosen photographer if they will be able to retouch your photos if needed. Ideally, this is something you might want to consider enquiring about before booking, as while most wedding photographers will edit your images to make the colours look their best, not all photographers specialise in detailed skin retouching or digital body alterations.
There is no need to be careful or overly generic about it and ‘Do you retouch photos?’ is far too broad of a question that can be easily misinterpreted. So instead of using hints and vague questions, be blunt and be real about what your expectations and preferences are. Want your skin smoothed out? Tell your photographer: ‘I would be interested in having my skin retouched to look smoother in photographs, is this something you could do?’. Want your hair to look fuller or your tan to look more even? Definitely tell your photographer about that too!
And remember that your chosen photographer will not just assume that you want digital changes made to your face and body unless you explicitly tell them that you do, and as some photographers don’t offer retouching as part of their standard wedding coverage, it can also involve an extra charge as they will need to outsource it to a specialist, so it’s definitely worth discussing ahead of time!
Some final thoughts:
Everyone feels at least a little insecure at one point or another, and the stress of wedding planning certainly doesn’t make it easier for those who are already self-conscious to begin with, so if you don’t feel 100% confident in the run-up to your wedding day, please know that that’s okay!
Remember that your wedding photographer would never want to accidentally create painful reminders of your perceived imperfections, but only to tell the story of a very special step in your life in the most beautiful way possible. So when choosing your wedding photographer, choose an artist who is happy to have open and honest conversations about insecurities, expectations and concerns, to ensure that you are always on the same page. It’s important that you feel safe and relaxed on your wedding day, free to enjoy yourself and have the most amazing time possible, knowing you have a great professional with the right set of skills on your side.