What I Learned from Being in front of the Camera


Being photographed can feel very awkward, strange, and unnatural. It's super common to not be jazzed about having your photo taken, but at the same time want to have nice photos of yourself, your kids, or your family.


There are lots of reasons to not enjoy having your photo taken. Some people feel like they have to perform for a photo, as if they're on stage and have to bust out the perfect, glowing smile right on cue. It's overwhelming to be the center of attention! Others have insecurities about how they look, and the idea of being in front of the camera and documenting those insecurities seems less than appealing. And some are on the more introverted side and meeting someone for the first time feels intimidating and draining.


Maple Grove photographer holding camera in hand at a park in Minneapolis
This is one of the photos that was taken of me by Angie Smith of Bobeedy Photography during golden hour at Boom Island Park. What I love about this photo is my genuine smile. Also, I'm a huge sucker for black & white.

It can feel WEIRD to be in front of the camera—yes, even for a photographer! It would seem most logical that a photographer would be familiar with the process and understand what to expect, which would at least eliminate some of the nerves. And yet when I hired a Maple Grove photographer to take some branding photos for me, I felt all kinds of awkward. Nope, even I am not immune to weird feelings about photos. Here are a few things that I learned from my hour in the spotlight:


It takes time to warm up and to loosen up.

This is true 98% of time. No matter who you are, no matter if you know your photographer or not. Introverted or extroverted. It take some time to get into the photo taking groove. This is true of most social situations actually, whether you're at a party or a play date. Therefore, it's pretty common for the favorite photos to not be taken within the first few minutes. And that's okay!


This is one of the main reasons why I don't like mini sessions. A lot of times, my favorite photos are the ones taken towards the middle or end of a 45-minute session.

You might not like the same images your photographer likes.

When I'm going through photos and deciding which ones to edit, one of the first things I notice is the lighting. Did I nail it? Sometimes I gush over an image simply due to perfect lighting. (Even while I'm taking a photo of a family, I'll exclaim, "BAH!!! THE LIGHT IS PERFECT!!" Don't be super weirded out. It's a pretty common photographer thing.)


BUT when I'm looking at photos of myself for the first time? Mmm...It's a different story. I'm definitely not analyzing the light. I'm noticing deer-in-headlights eyes or the sweater that's bunched up funny.


All that to say, your photographer's job is to use light, angles, and interactions to create incredible images. But she may love one because of the look on one of the kid's faces, and yet you can't get past that semi-crooked smile.


Because of this tendency to be super hard on ourselves in photos, I like to deliver more than what's purchased and let my clients choose their favorites. And sometimes the ones they pick surprise me!


It's easy to be very picky about yourself in a photo.

You'll see a double chin when no one else sees one. You'll see every fly away hair and shirt crinkle and you'll know when that look in your eyes isn't genuine.


It can also be quite an emotional thing to have an idea in your head that you look a certain way and find out you look another. It's normal to think things like, Wow, I didn't realize I had so many wrinkles or Dang, my butt's gotten a lot bigger in the last couple of years.


My advice when you start thinking those things is to focus on how the documentation of your connections. Also, picture yourself ten years older looking at the same image. We're often much kinder to younger selves.

Hearing encouraging things about how you look and if you're doing it "right" goes a loooong way.

While there's no one right way to be in a photo, we all can use a little reassurance. Even if there's not a lot of posing, knowing that whatever you're doing is looking good from behind her lens helps a ton.


Furthermore, hearing that you look great feels especially validating coming from your photographer. Her job is to create beautiful images. She knows what looks good. And those words aren't dished out unless they're honest. Plus, more often than not, feeling great is what makes you look great in photos. It's all about confidence baby.


Photographer interacting with a baby during a family photo shoot.
This is one of my absolute favorite images from the session. I love it for so many reasons. It feels like me and how I am when I'm at a session, with my hair back and a smile on my face. It's also the style of photo I enjoy taking the most, where I'm a fly on the wall, simply capturing the beauty that's already there.

A Few Final Thoughts

I'm so glad that I invested in some photos of myself for my business. Yes, I needed the images for my website and social media, but honestly, seeing what it's like on the other end in a one-on-one fashion was SUCH a valuable experience! Probably one of the best decisions I've made to invest in my business in this first year.


If you're looking for a photographer who understands how uncomfortable it can be and will put in the extra effort to make you feel at ease, please reach out! You can send me an email at karajoyphoto@gmail.com or give me a call at 612.599.8349. I'd love to chat about what you're looking for.

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HEY, I'M KARA JOY

Looking for a Newborn Photographer in Maple Grove?

Based in Maple Grove, MN and servicing the Twin Cities metro, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. Kara Joy Photography is known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

If you're on the hunt for a newborn or family photographer, I'd love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have! Click the link below to send me a message or you can shoot me an email at karajoyphoto@gmail.com​.