How to deal with awkwardness or nerves before a portrait session

I'm Rachel, your PNW and Ireland elopement photographer.

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Feeling nervous or awkward before a portrait session is 100% normal.

I’m definitely not a psychologist, but in an attempt to assuage that nervousness, here are some useful things for you to keep in mind:

  • I’m not focused on how this will look on social media
  • I’m not comparing you to anyone else
  • You don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else either

No sugar-coating: I know what looks good

My sessions are chill and loose and fun, but I’m not going to put you in some horrifying position and then angle the shot straight up your nose. Give me a little credit here. I’m also not going to tweak the position of every limb and joint and force you into an unnatural mannequin pose, though.

I get to be a part of your life for a couple of hours; I think that’s so freaking cool, and I want to capture it how it is. Because you’re just how you should be. Try to let go of those insecurities for a minute, my sweet baby angels. We’ve all got them–let’s not pretend we don’t–but they really don’t matter nearly as much as you think they do.

I am fully aware of how uncomfortable it can be at the beginning, especially if you never get portraits taken.

Industry secret: photographers “swap” with each other all the time. We need photos of ourselves for social media, our websites, etc., and most of the time it’s way too difficult to take them ourselves. So we trade with other photographers fairly regularly, and let me tell you, I am only marginally less awkward now that I used to be.

I’d say my “transition out of clumsy baby giraffe” mode has gotten a little faster, but I’m still like “how long have I had arms? Where did these gangly things come from? Look at me, I’m a velociraptor.”

And this is literally my job. So yeah, even photographers get awkward, but don’t stress; I’ll have you prancing around in front of the camera like a pro in no time.

1. Choose the right photographer.

Seriously, this is incredibly important. We all have some tricks up our sleeves, and most photographers know what they’re doing, but most of us also know that the biggest secret to getting people comfortable in front of our cameras is getting them comfortable with us.

If we get along, if we feel like friends, it’s going to be so much easier for you to relax! Picture this:

You meet your photographer at the session. They shake your hand, introduce themselves, and then put a camera in your face. They don’t say a word for the next hour. They shake your hand again and leave.


…Unless that’s the environment you thrive in–you do you, cupcake. But that’s what I’m getting at here: don’t just pick someone because “they’re cheap” or “they have a nice camera” or whatever. Invest in someone’s skill and style and process and art because it resonates with you in some way.

Me?  I get excited. I’m going to run around, and dance without any music playing, then dance badly to the music I am playing, and then possibly make high-pitched noises when I get excited. Then I’ll invade your personal space while we take things down a few notches.

I don’t know, it’s a blur sometimes, and different for every couple.

What was I saying.

2. Think about why you want this.

Your mindset is key. If this is important to you, if you really take the time to understand what this means and share your excitement with your partner and get to know your photographer… this will feel a lot more like a date night + third wheel (hey that’s me) and a lot less like a chore.

Please for fuck’s sake don’t think of a session with me as a chore. I’m fun you guys.

3. Talk to me about outfits!


I know this sounds super shallow, but how many times have you left the house in an outfit you didn’t like, or felt uncomfortable in, or you forgot to wash your hair for the fourth day in a row, and you just felt…meh?

I’m currently working on something really cool, but for now, I’ve got all the tips you need to feel like a comfy badass, and none of those tips involve buying new clothes, wearing anything formal or uncomfortable, or doing anything out of character.

…is anyone else having a flashback to middle school when their mum insisted they wear a skirt and put their hair down and wear a floral headband when that was the very last thing they ever wanted to do ever?

Just me?


Look, basically, don’t even worry about it; I’ll help you avoid the random things that can look weird on camera, find what looks best on you and in the location where we’re shooting, and still feel like you. You’ll feel like a million sexy bucks, and nothing translates on camera quite like confidence.

Things to remember during your session:

This is a pretend section (gotcha) because you really don’t need to remember anything; I promise, you’ll be too busy enjoying yourself to pay much attention to the things you were worried about before. Leave it with me, go with the flow, everything is going to be fine.

Take it from one anxious human to another: if you’re running around, and laughing so hard your stomach hurts, and getting stared at the way Duncan stares at me, you won’t really have time to worry about what your pointy elbows are doing.

…I realize upon reading this again that the staring bit could come across as both heartwarming and threatening. Read it as heartwarming. Ok thanks.



If you still have any concerns, or you’re scared, I’m always a phone call away. Or an email or text if you’re still weirded out by talking on the phone.

You got this xx

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