It was a Sunday afternoon when we all gathered in the lobby of our hotel. We were staying at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, our first stop on a 10-day road trip across southern and western Ireland.
The idea seed for this trip was planted when my brother was accepted to a study abroad program in Oxford. If he was going overseas, my parents wanted to visit. And if anyone goes to Europe, I’m certainly onboard to pop over for a spell too. What began as a parental visit quickly blossomed into a full-fledge family reunion of eight people. The road trip to Ireland was our Christmas gift from our parents, and what better way to commemorate it than by surprising them with our own personal photoshoot?
This is where I want to let you guys in on a little secret: a company called Flytographer.
These guys are ah-mazing. Basically they have gathered super talented photographers in cities across the world, and connect travelers with these locals to stage their very own photoshoots. In a world that’s all about documenting our every glowing experience on film, it’s genius.
We met Vanessa, our Flytographer photographer, on a sunny afternoon. She was full of ideas for locations, compositions, and tips on how to make our shoot a mixture of portrait and candid-style shots.
And while we had an incredibly talented professional at our fingertips, it actually wouldn’t be terribly difficult to reproduce these results on your own.
Here are my tips on how to ace your own photoshoot.
1. No one is looking at your hands.
Anyone remember that scene from Talladega Nights, the one in which Will Ferrell’s character conducts an interview and has no idea what to do with his hands? Yeah, that feeling exists for still shots as well. But don’t worry so much – really, no one is scrutinizing your every pose for the perfectly placed hands. Or any body part for that matter. Just try and relax into a position that is comfortable for you.
2. Other people don’t really care all that much.
I get it, it’s super awkward at first to be out in public and the subject of a photographer’s lens. People will be staring, wondering what’s going on, asking themselves if you’re someone important, whatever. But rarely does anyone try to interfere. And most likely they’ll forget they saw what you were up to within the next half hour. So don’t let stage fright ruin your composure.
3. Smile. You’re supposed to be having fun.
A forced smile can be spotted from a mile away. A genuine smile, or a face caught in the middle of a laugh, creates a much better photograph. Vanessa prompted us throughout the day to laugh, and luckily this is one activity my family is practically pros at. After you get over the initial self-consiousness this gets pretty easy to do. And your final shots will thank you.
4. Let your personality shine through.
If you’re silly, act silly. If you never jump in the air and do weird things with your arms, don’t do it. My sister and I are known to act pretty ridiculous when together, and my brothers usually look at us and pretend they don’t know us. It’s us in a nutshell. And my sister’s fiancé and family friend are a mix of amusement and wanting to join in, which pretty much fits them as well.
5. Remember your school yearbooks. And do the opposite.
Yeah, those awkward chin down, now tilt you head to the left instructions were ridiculous. And the shots always looked forced. Portrait style photos can turn out well if you act natural and smile a real smile. Remember, you are having fun here.
6. Outtakes, outtakes, outtakes.
Anyone who has an Instagram account knows how many attempts it takes to craft the perfect selfie. Practice makes perfect here, and it’s the same for posing for a camera. We had loads of good shots (thanks to a professional photographer) but even then I’m sure there are many more that will never leave the cutting room floor. Don’t be discouraged if there’s more “oh my god what was I doing shots” than ones that meet your approval.