Wedding Photographer Toby Lowe’s ten top tips on loving having your photograph taken

Beautiful photographs from your wedding day are something to be treasured, but can be difficult to achieve if you loathe being photographed. Despite elegant clothes, a make-up and hair stylist and a stunning backdrop, awkward poses and rictus smiles can ruin the end result. Experienced wedding photographer Toby Lowe has generously shared his ten top tips to couples on how to put the demons to rest and model up before the camera.

  1. Forget the glossy magazine front covers and celebrity social media. Toby explains: ‘Hating being photographed is a common problem which is growing as more people are taking photos and sharing them to often unpleasant peer review. People really need to relax and remember a photograph is a time capsule of your life, not a photo shopped advert, but a true record of your wedding day. Obviously you want the photographs to bring out the best of you but it should be of you, not a touched up fantasy.’
  2. Getting those best photos of you, means you and the photographer getting to know each other as good photographs are based on trust. ‘Rather than just looking through a photographer’s website to see if you like their style, spend time with them at the booking stage,’ advises Toby. ‘Ideally this would mean meeting up but if distance is a problem, then skyping or facetime is a good idea. You will be spending up to 14 hours with the photographer on your wedding day so a personal relationship is key.’
  3. Talk to your photographer honestly about what makes you nervous about being photographed. Toby says, ‘A lot of people have a feature they hate, whether a double chin, crooked teeth or their nose. Often that hatred is not based on fact, rather an unkind remark that has stuck or the merciless teasing of a sibling, but if your photographer knows how you feel they can shoot from angles you feel more comfortable with and will not be trying to persuade you to do things you suspect highlight your flaw.’
  4. A very important point is to remember to breath. ‘If people are feeling tense, they start holding their breath and become stiff and that really shows in photographs particularly the ones of just the bride and groom,’ explains Toby. ‘I ask couples to take 3. They close their eyes, breath in slowly to the count of 1, 2, 3, hold the breath, then open their eyes as they expel the breath. That takes the tension away and is when I get a really great relaxed shot. I really recommend couples practice breathing in this way before the wedding day.’
  5. Another thing for couples to practice beforehand is how to pose in a way that looks natural and is also flattering. Toby provides some simply followed instruction on this, ‘Don’t stand with your legs apart like a guardsman, instead put one foot ahead of the other and about 5cm apart, creating an L shape. Then lean forward on the front foot. This means you lean into the camera so you are engaging with it and this focuses attention on your eyes. And don’t get confused with the catwalk strut where the model leans back, that’s designed to focus attention on the clothes and the attention should be on you.’
  6. Arms and wrists should also not hang straight down. Instead Toby suggests, ‘Arms and wrists crooked at a light angle always look more comfortable, that’s why celebrities on the red carpet often have one hand on a hip. You can use props likes glasses of champagne, but the best thing is if the couple are touching each other, but only lightly. This is a tender and passionate occasion and that’s what should be caught in the photos. No grabbing!’
  7. Remember hands too are a big part of pulling off a natural pose. ‘Hands tell us so much of how someone is feeling and you don’t want you wedding photographs to show you with tightly clenched hands,’ laughs Toby. ‘I also don’t like the holding a football pose. Hands should always look as if they are holding feathers. I also remind grooms that pockets are there for a purpose and they can always stick their thumbs in them. Brides have bouquets to hold onto which makes it easier but the best thing a bride and groom can do is hold hands.’
  8. Forget the big smiles. ‘I don’t know who thought of the instruction ‘Say cheese!’ but they are responsible for more bad photos than anything else,’ groans Toby. ‘Unless you are the type of person who looks in the mirror every day with a big grin, you just look totally unnatural and forced. Hopefully couples are feeling happy on their wedding day and they don’t need to play to the camera, that smile comes from the inside and will show in the photos. People are always saying the Mona Lisa isn’t smiling, but I think she looks perfectly happy.’
  9. A good way of practicing all these poses is having an engagement shoot with the photographer prior to the wedding. Toby says, ‘It gives the photographer a chance to pass on tips in a very unpressurised and unhurried environment when they are not worrying about other things. Hopefully as well, they will love the engagement photos, that will build rapport and also mean they feel more confident about having their photo taken on their wedding day.’
  10. However, do bear in mind an accurate record of your wedding day includes the other people attending. This also goes back to the important point of being honest with your photographer. ‘Families are very complicated,’ sighs Toby ‘but if there are some difficult relationships it’s best for if the photographer knows. I had one wedding where the groom and his father hadn’t spoken for some time, so an intimate man to man shot of them was not appropriate. Particularly in these times of so much divorce, there can be hard feelings and people who don’t want to be forced to stand next to a former partner.’ Ending on a happier note though, Toby recalls, ‘I’m divorced but get on well with my first wife and her new husband, so they came to my wedding to my beautiful wife Sylvia. It was very funny when people asked them how they knew us.’

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