... and some tips on how to make it a success!

Hey, listen. I know I can't be the only one who's ever been nervous before a photography session so I'm about to do you a solid with this blog. You with me? Cool cool cool! Be it an easygoing couples session, engagement photos, heck even wedding day portraits, you've probably gotten the jitters as soon as you see your photographer lift up that camera as they start firing away. If you're like most people, chances are you don't naturally feel comfortable in front of the camera. As soon as that lens cap comes off, the thoughts start racing: "I'm going to be so awkward! What do I do with my hands? Where do I look??! HAALLPPP!"

Solution? Just a few quick tips and tricks and you'll be on your way - no matter what kind of session it is!

I want you to go into your next portrait session feeling confident, comfortable, and mainly focused on how much fun you're about to have. Fun? Yes, you read that right. FUN!

Tip 1: Your photographer shouldn't be your focus.

Your partner should be

Am I saying ignore the photographer? Yes. Does that make you a d*ck? Absolutely not! Hear me out. Less focus on the nerves of the session, more focus on how much you love your partner. See what I did there? Mindset is everything, and this shift will make for a huge change in the quality of your photos, promise! It's because when you look at your partner and focus on them, your surroundings seemingly melt away. Act however you two naturally act together: intimate, loud, goofy, soft. Whatever floats your boat, seriously. The more you can lean into this, the better! I always say to my clients "think of this as a date!" Would you be nervous on a date? Probably not if you've been going steady for a while! So act how you would if you were having a long overdue, intimate date. Photos always turn out way more authentic this way! Not to mention, your heart is probably gonna be super full after all of the cuddling, kissing, and handholding. Seriously!

Tip #2: Plan your outfits

In Advance

It's always a good idea to pre-plan your outfits at least a few days in advance. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling the day of to find something to wear! Clothing is so key in adding to the entire vibe of the session. You want your choices to be something that's flattering and comfortable on your bod. Sweater a little itchy? Ditch it. Feel like those pants are just a smidge too tight? They probably are. If you find yourself questioning it as you try it on, there's your sign! Another rule of thumb I like is to stick to solid, neutral colours. With that being said, never be afraid to play around with colours and patterns - just make sure that they're complimentary to your partner's attire. To clarify, complimentary does not mean matching! Another tip, if one person opts for a pattern, the other person should try to keep it simple. Check out the photo up top to see what I'm talking about. If you're still at your wits end and are more of a visual kind of person, head to my Pinterest Board right here for some more outfit ideas! I hope it gets you inspired!

Tip #3: Questioning Hair and Makeup?

Treat Yourself

I'm not going to tell you to go and get your hair and makeup done if that isn't your jam. All I'm saying is that a little extra effort in the hair and makeup department can go a long way. Makeup can cover those day of blemishes (yes, they happen), while hair is another great way to add life and movement into your photos. My advice? Make a day of it. Get your hair styled, splurge on some lashes, go buy some makeup and take advantage of that free makeup application! You're going to show up feeling and looking like a million bucks.

Tip #4: Location, Location, Location

Scope it out

Think about locations that are meaningful to you: it might be where you and your partner first met, a place you like to hike, or somewhere you've always talked about going together. Shooting in a spot with meaning can completely level-up a session. It's so common to go to a well-known park or beach, which is pretty and all, but when we think outside the box there's some serious magic to be made! If you're not sure, ask your photographer for some help with the location scouting... if you do this just don't be afraid to say yes to something crazy!

Tip #5: Choose a Photographer

... and make sure you trust them

If you want those raw, candid, in the moment photos, you need to trust the person behind the camera. This is the most important tip I have. It's not you that will make an amazing photo, it's your photographer - how they see light, how they direct you, the little things they do to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. So when you choose a photographer, make sure you opt for one whose direction you are going to trust 100%, because it's this person who's going to be documenting your love story.

I hope these tips put you at ease when you're in front of the camera next. A little preparation goes a long way, and it can help put that anxiety to rest! Now get out there and vogue, honey. You got this!

Chelsea Gurr is a portrait and intimate wedding photographer for the untraditional, passionate, bold lovers based in Ottawa and the Kawarthas and is available for travel. She lives for slow moments, candid imagery, and any type of outdoor fun. Her style is emotive, passionate, and subtle. She firmly believes in telling stories the way they naturally occur: real and unposed, made up of the moments that evoke emotion years down the line.


What better way to create a special keepsake than with an adventure session?! You can find me in Ottawa or the Kawarthas for the most part, but I'm always down for an adventure. Let's get in touch.