Picture Day

Kate's school pictureTips and tricks from Humboldt County, California based wedding and portrait photographer Kate Donaldson.

I don't know about you but I went to great lengths to pick out my picture day outfit(s). Fortunately, I was relatively short so ended up in the front a lot, giving my decisions that much more prominence. What you can't see in the above photo is that I have carefully pulled my socks over my pants, halfway to my knees. Because. Yeah.

It starts early - this desire for accurate visual preservation if you will. I will. For sure. And obviously, I get it. But what starts as cute kid, zero questions asked as to why your socks are pulled up over your pants (probably to focal point your Cabbage Patch kid slip ons) takes a vicious left at the advent of the yearbook and suddenly having your picture taken is almost as fun as showering in public. Yes, I am listening to Jawbreaker as I write this.

My favorite high school outfit consisted of a navy corduroy snap button down shirt, white tank top, pink floral on black a-line barely knee length skirt, white athletic socks with grey stripes, black combat boots. Fact: my mum still tracks the locations of army surplus stores in proximity to her house. My basic style has evolved a little bit but guess what: I still hate having my picture taken.

Although in my case this probably has more to do with residual and inadvertent traumas incurred at the hands of art school class mates than camera shyness. I just so happen to have zero statue empathy a.k.a. sit-still-ability a.k.a. I am the worst model ever.

So what to do if you're newly engaged, going to the chapel or just desperately in need of a portrait without a laser light backdrop? There are a few simple ways to make having your picture taken less of a teen angst throwback.

1. Move.

Standing still tends to amplify that whole ohmygod why are you looking at me like that am I making a duck face (oh, I would tell you) mania that comes with the introduction of a camera. These thoughts do tend to lead to duck face. So walk, spin, sway, skip, wobble (if you can do the actual dance you will get many donuts), waltz, ride a bike. No, you are not expected to frolic but unless you are a Buckingham Palace guard, movement comes naturally. That's a good thing.

2. Find something to do with your hands.

Whether holding a bouquet of flowers or throwing water balloons, keeping your hands occupied tends to quiet that buzzing inner monologue about the best angle for your hip as per something you read/saw somewhere one time. An added benefit is that you are that much likelier to interact normally with your partner in photographic infamy. Because in real life you don't think about where to place your hands because why and who has time for that (there's a water balloon fight happening)

3. The safe word is banana.

Ask for help. If you are uncomfortable or uncertain about what to do, just say so. Talk about your camera comfort a bit beforehand. Some people/couples can forget there's a camera around (yes, do get a room) and others need a little bit of arranging/coaxing. Ultimately, remember that you're not modeling (smize if you realllly want to) you're just hanging out with someone you love more than anything in the world while someone else (me) turns that into magic. Because that's why you hired a photographer.

4. Wear the nicest version of your pajamas.

If you were going to wear pajamas to a cocktail party. Comfort is key but you also want to feel incredible. Take a little time to play dress up. You're investing the time and energy in having your photo taken so have fun with it! Get your hair did, put on a new dress - or your absolute favorite dress. Whatever makes you shine is the outfit you want to wear. I know you've got this. I have faith in your fashion sense. I will draw the line, however, at ironic turtlenecks.