How to be Relaxed in Front of the Camera
Most of us tend to freeze when the camera is focused on us. Why does this happen to us? The fear of taking a “bad” picture causes us to get in our heads and we often become unnatural. The fear gets in the way of our natural essence and we get the opposite affect of what we want captured in the photo; the fear makes it worse.
As a photographer, I’ve seen even the most experienced models become exposed. When the soul is exposed and the embarrassment is in its peak, the camera is focused on the subject and the energy is stuck. While I attempt to get close-ups, what do you do when everything you do isn’t working? How can you get un-stuck?
First: Self-Awareness. You need to recognize it. As soon as you can recognize that the situation is controlling you and you need to be controlling it, you’ve taken the first step to find the solution to your problem! Be aware that this environment makes you feel uncomfortable. To help alleviate this uncomfortably, prepare yourself as much as possible and try to relax as soon as you arrive on set in order to get the best out of yourself!
Before the day of the shoot, prepare everything you need to bring or have! Anything from a cellphone charger or your own makeup, to making sure you look the way you feel most yourself! You don’t want to start worrying about whether you missed some hairs shaving (for the men), or if the photographer will edit out that one surprise pimple that appeared magically on your forehead the morning of and you forgot to cover it or maybe missed some hairs plucking your eyebrows. If you have a razor and tweezers, take care of that hair and manicure yourself how you feel yourself! Pimple? Cover it! Do whatever you can before the shoot to make you feel the most comfortable. Take care of the little things before the shoot, so that all you have to focus on is being you and only you!
When the shoot starts, you feel something isn’t working. Your body starts acting on it’s own: the upper lip starts to twitch, one of your eyes becomes lazy, or the shoulders tense up. In short, your body is reacting uncomfortably to the camera because of how you’re feeling internally. It happens more often than not. Not all models are aware of these reactions their bodies make. As a photographer, I can spot these things without my camera in plain sight, but most of my models don’t believe me until I point it out on the camera in the photos. It’s as if their bodies are disconnected and what they think they are doing and what their body is actually doing are two different things.
Whether you are told about your bodies reactions and aren’t aware until the photographer points them out, or if you are aware of them before or while they start occurring, ask the photographer for a few minutes for your own to get yourself into the right mood. Utilize this precious time by doing a few exercises. Get the blood circulating, especially in the areas are you aware of that are reacting in front of the camera. It will not only help the areas loosen up, but it will detach them from your feelings and emotions. There are a few other exercises you can do to help resolve this. Shake your body: imagine you just got out of the shower, you’re soaking wet and you have no towel. Shake as if you are trying to get dry and get each water droplet off. Yelling is another great release! Yell a few times, with all your heart as loud and with as much power as you can. Try to get the neighbors to hear you. Yelling will allow you to release any unnecessary tension that is locked somewhere deep inside. After you yell, massage your face muscles gently to loosen them up. Jumping is a great way to utilize this time as well! With each jump, try to jump higher and higher each time with your hands, arms and legs lifting with the same intensity. A quick run is helpful too. All you need is about 2/3 minutes to allow the blood to circulate quickly all over the body. It also gives you a nice flush to the cheeks in seconds, so you won’t have to worry about blush! Massaging your face is key. Use your fingertips, and be aware to massage more gently if you are already wearing makeup. Also, pretend you are chewing gum, but exaggerate your facial muscles and try opening your eyes really wide, and closing them really tight. All of these exercises will help relax you and allow your face to express more freely.
Now get back to set and try to enjoy it as much as possible. If you’re still feeling “off,” you most likely aren’t loose enough. Ask the photographer to play music that will make you forget any technical thoughts, and allows you to feel comfortable and takes the distracting thoughts away allowing you to be more relaxed and feel more yourself. You can also ask the photographer to be alone with you in this stage of shooting if you feel the company of the other members of the team makes you feel less comfortable. Remember that they are here to make you feel good, but if their presence is distracting or making you feel uncomfortable simply ask the photographer if you can work alone with them while you shoot.
Hopefully you feel more comfortable at your shoot after trying these tactics, but if you’re still not feeling completely natural of you feel unauthentic in your body, find an object that will help distract your mind, especially for close-up shots so you can use it while you shoot. You can hold any object to help release the tension in turn releasing it from your face. Squeeze a ball, massage something soft or try holding a glass of water (water is always a good idea).
A good thing to be aware of is whether you will be photographed sitting or standing. As soon as you become aware to your preference, ask the photographer to shoot you that way. Most of my models feel more comfortable sitting because they feel they don’t have to worry about “what to do with their hands.” Others feel standing allows them to move in between shots and they don’t feel stiff.
Overall, remember that everything starts with you and ends with you; It’s your story!
Control the Situation.
Be Aware of your Body, Mind and Soul.
And do Whatever You can to Live in the Moment; Let Go of Anything that Makes You Feel Less You. You are the Most Beautiful when You are Most You.
Enjoy Your Shoot, and Take Beautiful Photos!