Friday Wine Chat: We don’t Photograph Awkward People

Think back over all of the times you’ve been professionally photographed in your life. I can’t actually think of that many pre-wedding. School photos? Yep. Oh God. Primary school photos. That’s where this all began. You’d sit your butt on this skinny, uncomfortable bench and stare up at those enormous umbrellas. I remember the photographer (same guy every year, what a trooper) would yell ‘Whacko! Woohoo! Alright Mrs Jellybean you look up here… oh hang on a sec’ – and then he’d pull the comb out of his shirt pocket which had no doubt raked the hair of many-a-child before me – and drag it’s potentially licey prongs through my heavy red fringe.

‘one – two – MRS JELLYBEAN LOOK HERE WOOHOO!’ click.

Temporary blindness ensued. The shame of being woohoo-ed at in front of my peers. The absurdity of being married to a Jellybean and subsequently taking the Jellybean’s name. The comb in the fringe. So. Much. Cringe.

The resulting photos? A vacant-eyed, chubby redhead kid with freckles and missing front teeth. The shame of having to smuggle these enormous prints of my dorky 10 year old likeness home to my parents.

Me and my lil’ Bro Ash. We rolled with the high pants crew back in the day (not the professional shot, but you see what I had to work with, right?).

I think I’m going to start a support group for the victims of dorky primary school photographs. That’s probably most of us, amiright? So, that being said, I suspect our collective dislike of photos grew from this place where we were marched in a photography production line, seated on a tiny bench in front of a grey backdrop and made to stare into a lens whilst studio lights blinded us. The pain from this uncomfortable experience was only magnified when the prints were delivered. Those humiliating prints are trotted out at your 18th, your 21st, and any time your siblings want to embarrass you on Facebook, only further increasing the sense of awkwardness and maybe even a hint of shame from being photographed professionally.

Being photographed on your wedding day is one of those inevitable things that will happen whether you hire us, another photographer, your cousin with the sweet DSLR, or even if you don’t hire anyone at all (that’s a bad idea, plz hire somebody!). Someone, at some point, will take a photo of you. Even if you tell them not to.

The ol’ ‘fake smiling for too long’ face. We hate it, too. It looks and feels uncomfortable AF. Let’s not do that.

I meet all of the couples that book Cloud Catcher for their weddings. So many people warn me that they are awkward, camera-shy, nervous about being photographed and so on.

I am here with my hand on my heart (and my other hand holding my Sav Blanc, this is Friday Wine Chat after all) to tell you that there is actually no such thing as an awkward person on a wedding day. Not in the truest, most genuine, cringing from head to toe version of awkward. Sometimes we might be asked to stage an awkward family portrait for the lols. But that’s different.

Maybe other photographers can’t say the same. But when you say ‘oh but we are SO awkward’ I say ‘not on my watch’. When Colette and I kicked off our business, right from the get-go, from our very first engagement shoot together, we decided we wouldn’t let people get to a point where they would say to us ‘oh god, this is so awkward’ or ‘what do we do now?’. Similarly, we didn’t want to ever get so desperate, disinterested or disengaged with shooting that we’d ask you to pretend to do something. If we are after laughing, joyful photos, we’ll just make you laugh!

Let me show you the first shoot we ever did:

This was the first portrait shoot I ever did, ever ever. Miranda is a dancer, so we just let them play around and I took a bazillion photos because I had no idea what I was doing.

That logo too, lawwwwwd.

I hated photographing portraits, I swore I’d never do it, because posing people made ME feel awkward! What we learned from our day mucking around in this field with the gorgeous Alex and Miranda was that we could shoot a whole session without posing the couple. We could actually just photograph people being exactly as they are, and by giving them what we call ‘prompts’ we could get totally natural reactions to questions and keep them busy and not focused on what we’re doing.

Before we started taking pictures as a job, we actually sat down and figured out a game plan so that each and every shoot was comfortable, and fun, and hilarious, and swoon-worthy, and a millionty-seven percent a photographic representation of the people in the pictures. I used to write the game plan on my hand. What I’ve found along the way is that our game plan can adapt to fit the personalities of our couples. That got a bit too much info to write on my hand. It’s become second nature now, though, luckily!

I guess the point here is that we are all awkward humans, awkwardly gallivanting through life together. For one blessed, magical, precious day of this life we get to navigate a wedding day. The uniqueness of this day, the weight it carries, the emotion (and all of the champagne) mean there just is no room in your brain to process the feeling of awkward.

Here are some Mr and Mrs Jellybeans whose hair we did not rake with the communal comb before taking these shots. In fact, wedidn’t need to do too much at all, other than step back and observe the action as it unfolded. That’s just how we roll.

Candid photo of engaged couple in a field, ToowoombaBride and Groom urban portrait, BrisbanePortrait of Bride and Groom Hillstone St Lucia

If youre still not comfortable with the whole being photographed thing, that’s okay. Our main job is to make you feel comfortable, THEN take your pictures. That’s what we’re here for. We’ll do whatever we need to make this happen. Another sneaky tip I have for you is to remember that the portraits are but a tiny part of what constitutes the photography on your wedding day. We kind of approach it as a bit of time to chill together. The rest of the day we shoot candidly, while you’re busy getting ready, getting married, then gettin’ down at the reception so the less aware you are of us being there taking photos, the better!

I’d love to welcome you into my new awkward school photo support group. We can chat about your awkward school photos on the phone, over Skype or in our sweet new home studio. Hit us up!

If you don’t want to own up to your childhood awkwardness, maybe you have just been cool the whole time. Teach me your ways.


Yewwww! It’s the weekend!

xo Alyce

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