The Cure to Camera-phobia

This post is for the photographers out there---whether you are a trigger-happy mom with a point and shoot, an amateur photographer with a love for still-life, or a pro photographer wondering how in the world you actually get paid for doing something you enjoy. I know that this might be common knowledge for some of you, but I hope that you can all glean a little something from what I'm going to share (or maybe comment and share a little nugget of knowledge yourself!) 

Last blog post, I mentioned that my new friend, Katie, had a little "camera-phobia," and I thought that I would shed a little more light on this common epidemic and its cure:

Camera-phobia. Don't shoot Me!

I know that getting in front of the camera makes most everyone a little nervous. I mean, I've been there. Point a camera at me and, suddenly, I'm very aware of my hands...what do I do with my hands? And why am I scrunching my forehead? I don't do that in real life, do I? My sis says that I have a "fake smile" in front of the camera. What? Where did my real smile go? And everyone knows that it's those awful, goofy looking pictures of yourself that make it to the social media sites where it's shared and spread around the world quicker than you can say, "Cheesy!" When I was younger, having these fears made me gravitate towards being the one holding the camera, thus ensuring that I wasn't in as many photographs. (Don't go double-checking that info. I still managed to get tagged in many a goofy moments on Facebook.) But over the years, I've honed in on these phobias of mine and allowed them to teach me a very valuable lesson, probably the most important lesson in photography---how to break down the walls of mistrust that go up when the camera comes out. You want to know my secret?

The Cure. Take Two and Call Me in the Morning:

1. Keep things lighthearted and comfortable with lots of conversation. Don't get so absorbed in taking the photograph that you get in the "zone" and forget that other people are present, leaving that awkward silence for them while you get closer and closer with your giant intimidating camera lens. Keep the conversation going.

2. Let your subjects take their time and loosen up. Don't expect them to be super-models from the get-go! That's why I don't do mini-sessions, because I want that full hour to let my subjects' personalities unfold. Except for the occasional professional model, it usually takes ten to twenty minutes at the beginning to get everyone "warmed up" to the camera. 

3. Always be encouraging. ALWAYS. I can't stress this enough. Keep a smile on your face and praises on your mouth. (Even if the sky is falling and you are having a mini heart-attack.) Positive encouragement really goes a long way to make your subject feel comfortable and look natural for the camera. 

 4. Lastly, make them laugh. There's nothing more natural than a smile following laughter. How do I accomplish this? Well, to be honest, I usually embarrass myself in some way. This is never part of the plan, but is inevitable when I am talking or trying to tell a joke.  

Photographers, what's your way of keeping things loosey goosey and fun on a shoot?