Overcoming your fear of directing


Last time you have read my tips on posing voluptuous women. Let’s continue with a few tips on “Overcoming your fear of directing” 🙂
Many times I hear photographers saying – ” I am a photo-journalist, I won’t intrude on your day – I will record you day as it is; I am not going to make you pose and so on and so forth… And then – I check their photos and those are just…. let’s say – ordinary…to say the least”.
Don’t take me wrong – I know plenty of “photo-journalist photographers with a great eye and a beautiful imaginary. If you look at majority of my Awards – those are photo-journalistic images. So I am all for being able to observe and see.
But there is huge difference between Being a Photo-Journalist and calling yourself one due to inability to direct and pose people. Therefore hiding behind the “Title” – “A Photo-journalist”
I will try to help you with some tips. You don’t have to do it the way I suggest. But even if you find that you are hating the way I suggest you do it – it is still a great result as thinking and analysing what you do and don’t like; how to do things that you are comfortable doing will help you on your way to be a great photographer.
Tell me – how many of you don’t feel comfortable directing people?
Do you think – I just can’t tell people what to do, or I don’t want to appear too bossy or that will be too rude or I am much better at just being a fly on the wall… or that is not for me, I am just not that type of person… How many? A lot…Maybe you just don’t know how to start.. That is all…
The answer is simple actually, but requires some work and preparation. And that is – planning, planning and more planning. Planning ahead, planning in advance.
Scout the location that you will be shooting at, think of poses in advance, think of situations that would lead to particular poses. Think of poses in that location. Notice the light that will be at the time of your shoot, which way the sun will be, what sorts of background are there, if there are different levels of the ground nearby to take advantage of…research the poses that you like and think it through how to make it happen.
But to imagine it right – you need to know how the couple looks, what sort of clothes they will be wearing, what style of hair, if the bride will have a veil, high-heel shoes? If she is taller than her fiancée; if she is very little, if she is a voluptuous girl, if she is being vain about being a voluptuous girl or she is down to earth, easy-going person who is proud of her curves?
But what if the couple booked you online or on the phone and you don’t get to see them before the wedding?
Ask them to email you their photos, individual and together if they have some – that will give you a better idea of how they will look together, of their heights and body shapes in comparing to each other. Ask of the photos of her dress so you can see the challenges or opportunities that dress will present on a day. You will see, for example that there is no way bride could sit in that dress without looking much bigger than she is or without looking too stiff and posed.
You would know that as soon as voluptuous woman who has been brutally pushed into her corset try to sit in her bare-shoulders dress –demonstrate. Suddenly she will have a double-chin, folders of skin above the dress, breast looking much bigger that in reality and so on….
Looking at their photos will also help you decide if you need to bring some props – like a veil or scarf to cover her arms if she is not having it.
Ask her about her shoes – she might have high heels that probably will make her very uncomfortable when they start digging into the ground of your magical location. Advise her to take alternatives with her that will also help her feet relax. Trust me – bride in pain and they often are as the shoes are new, tight and they have been on their feet for the whole day – is not a cooperative bride. Prevent a Bridezilla moment from happening. It is in your power.
Have water, have a fan, warm clothes, umbrellas – anything and everything you can think of that will help avoid an irritated, tired, hot or freezing to death woman. That includes her bridesmaids. Planning, planning, planning.
Ask them how do they feel being in front of the camera, of their previous experiences – being it bad or good. Note it all. Ask about what they like doing – knowledge of their favourite playtime will help you on the day creating much more relaxed poses. Ask them what they like doing separately and together. If they love to dance… because if you know that guess what… yes, right – you will ask them to dance J, if they like music, of they can sing, if they like walking along the beach barefoot together because guess what are you going to suggest for a location if you know that?
Ask if they love kids, know about if they have kids in bridal party or as guests? Playing with kids relax some people and distract them from being focused on being in front of a camera.
You need to know about him loving to play rough with his mates, playing a soccer or a guitar. As one of the things you might suggest to the boys is to kick a ball a bit.
So know as much as you can about them and visualise, visualise. Do the homework. Ask them if they would like to see themselves in a particular location, pose or mood. If they can bring or email you images where they like the pose, the light, the location. Talk to them about the ways of achieving this in advance…
Make them invest emotionally in creating the look and feel they want, spend time researching… when people invest – they will be more cooperative in achieving those results on a day.
Plan to use lens with a very shallow depth of field – will help you create a more intimate look, hide some imperfections of a background.
Another way of overcoming fear of directing – show them. Be playful, grab your assistant and demonstrate the pose. That is also why I wouldn’t do without an assistant. Not only because your assistant can drive, light, calculate, feed you, massage you and even shoot sometimes.
Mine is a bride’s best bridesmaid on the day who runs to fix her dress, carries stuff, helps bride up and helps her down and who also is being a victim of my demonstration skills. That is why I married my David. I needed to keep a good assistant all the time. Plus it was cheaper to marry him than to pay him. But that is beyond the scope of this post 😉
Enjoy these tips. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions and Happy Shooting everyone!
P.S. Ask about our workshops if you are interested to learn more and practice 🙂 Otherwise wait for more tips on this blog


  1. Linda Kelly Lee on September 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Neat tips. I think a lot of the tips are great for amateur photography also. Thank you.

  2. MagiesMentions.com on September 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Very good article and tips. Your photography is amazing.

  3. Linda Finstad on September 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Great tips Kira, I dont shoot weddings, I shoot horses and their people, I like to recruit moms as my helper, mainly to get horses ears forwad its a different perspective altogether but you have to know how to pose and direct both horse and handler – I dont mind sounding bossy its better than sounding dumb. As most people ask at the start of the shoot ” what do you want me to do” and if you dont several ideas up your sleeve you look clueless.I would love to learn about your wokshops – info@asharperimage.ca thanks Linda Finstad

  4. Anonymous on September 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    It is Kira here 🙂 – still can't figure out how to make this blog work, can't sign as myself 🙁 Thank you girls so much for your comments. It is great that I could help. I will be posting more tips soon.

  5. Kira on September 29, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    btw Linda,Is it possible for you to come to Sydney? :)You are welcome to stay with us while learning 🙂

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