The Wedding Portrait Session: Manage Your Anxiety and Ease Up With Three Simple Tips

Today’s guest Shutterbug is Pasadena, CA based fine art wedding photojournalist, Aaron Gil of Fotonuova.


Let’s face it, most couples dread the notion of having to take their formal wedding portraits. Most are simply not accustomed to maintaining poses and smiles for so long. When the time comes to pose for the camera, we tend to tense up and become uncomfortable. The nerves start to take over, stirring butterflies in our stomachs and producing sweaty palms. Add in unfavorable factors such as unpleasant weather, thirst, and hunger, and it’s no wonder people feel anxious.

But on your big day, you really want those very special and important photographs to be perfect. These are the photographs you show to your friends and family. They are photographs that will serve as a historical documentation. Your children and grandchildren will get to know these photographs well.

Oh, and one more bit of stress: The lens does not lie ”“ being nervous during your session will certainly be conveyed in pictures.

One bit of good news is that your photographer will try to put you at ease. Often this comes in the form of encouraging words, jokes or instructing you to take deep breaths. Just remember that getting great looking pictures is a collaborative process between the model and photographer.

Here are three tips that will help calm those nerves and sure to have you relaxed for wedding portraits!

1. Clip And Save! Prior to your wedding, flip through a few of your favorite fashion magazines and determine which photos contain poses and expressions you enjoy. Study the elements of these photos: How is the body, arms and legs posed? What is the expression in the eyes and mouth? Clip your photos and continue to study them when getting ready for other events and by the time your portrait session arrives, you will have a mental file of poses and expressions that you enjoy. You should feel free to strike a few of those poses between shutter clicks! Some might want to bring along their clippings for visual assistance.

2. Snack & Sip: On your big day, it is so very important that you cater to your body. Running on an empty stomach only compounds any discomfort. Designate a person in your party to carry a few fruits, granola bars and bottled waters. On the way to your portrait session, find a moment to eat a quick snack, drink water and serve your body. This will help ease and comfort your stomach and you’ll be in better spirits naturally!

3. Mini-Meditation: A few minutes prior to your shoot, ask your photographer for just a moment of alone time. What?!! Take a few extra minutes prior when we have a timeline to follow and our guests are waiting at the reception, you might ask? While this might not sound like a good idea, remember that portraits are forever. Now, find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably. Close your eyes and keep them closed for the duration of this exercise: Take 5 deep breaths. Inhale deep through the nose and exhale out through the mouth. Allow your muscles to gradually release. Now as you begin to relax, create a mental picture of yourself posing for your photos. Visualize yourself looking into the camera in a very relaxed manner. Briefly envision yourself effortlessly flowing through many poses. Bring to life a mental vision of you looking at the resulting photos and loving the outcome. Imagine that you are naturally aware of which angles are complementary and automatically take the best stance to enhance your look. Continue with a few more supporting scenarios. Then, allow this image to fade.

You want more?

OK, let’s take the mini-meditation it up a notch by creating a mental Happy Place that can be summoned later in your actual session. It’s easy and useful: Think of a very happy moment that took place in your life (It only works if you select an event that you remember clearly) and relive the details ”¦ Where are you? Who is with you? What is the time of the day? What is the weather like? Remember the happiness and joy of the moment. Continue to hold this great feeling. As the feeling reaches it’s pinnacle, rub your index finger and thumb together to lock in this Happy Place. Then you can allow the image to fade. By the time you open your eyes, you should feel more relaxed.

If your nerves start to get the best of you during your photo session, rub your index finger and thumb together to recall your happy moment. The power of positive thought is immense. Maintain that a positive thought while your photographer is clicking away.

It’s that easy! Now you can say goodbye to thoughts of stiff cardboard-like photos and say hello to easy ”“ and beautiful ”“ portraits!



For the Love of Photography
My Sweet Shower!
Add a comment


  1. misscookie Bee
    misscookie 795 posts, Busy bee @ 6:03 pm

    Great advice! I think the mini-meditation is a fantastic idea!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Miss Miffed, Guest @ 10:49 pm

    This post left a sour taste in my mouth. Sounds extremely self serving and like the photographer is tired of comforting nervous brides to me.

  3. Member
    cannotwait 2168 posts, Buzzing bee @ 11:58 pm

    I think these are good tips. I am not nervous in front of a camera but have a hard time doing ‘serious poses’. My natural inclination is to smile, and if I even have a hint of smile my dimples show through! (sometimes this is a weird combo!) So, I”ll have to try out some of the visualization techniques!

  4. Member
    vyeta7 220 posts, Helper bee @ 8:17 am

    Kind of obvious advice (eat! drink! collect yourself!) and sounds pretty condescending to me.

    The reason I love this site is that it lacks trite, prepackaged advice but this article could have been posted straight on the Knot.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Annie, Guest @ 8:21 am

    I didn’t think it was self-serving at all. It’s not like brides and grooms are professional models – most people really do not have any idea how to hold themselves in photos, to know where the most flattering light is, and to have all the pressure that these photos WILL be immortalized in family albums for the rest of your life really makes people nervous! I was extremely nervous for my boudoir shoot – but getting my hair and makeup done for an hour beforehand and the photographer’s professionalism really made me feel comfortable. I cannot stress how important that was, in hind-sight! And I will take this advice very well for my wedding day.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Guilty Secret, Guest @ 10:30 am

    Great advice… thank you!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    harpgirl1984, Guest @ 5:09 pm

    What SERENDIPITOUS timing!! I was JUST talking to my fiance about how I needed to look up like tips on meditation for the morning of the wedding. We are 2 weeks away and when i think about the doors opening to walk down the aisle I get this huge knot in my stomach. It just freaks me out to think about everyone’s eyes on me – especially when there are so many more people coming than I had originally thought. So, I will follow your steps to calm down before pictures that morning and before the big walk down the aisle! Thank you!

add a comment

Sent weekly. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Find Amazing Vendors