photographer's advice

3 Posing Hacks to Rock Your Next Selfie

Christmas is coming, New Year’s Eve isn’t far behind, and you know what that means? It’s time for PARTIES!!! Christmas parties, office parties, end-of-the-semester parties, your kid’s classroom party, Christmas gatherings with extended family, and the biggest party of the year, New Year’s Eve! And do you know what parties mean? PICTURES! Whether it’s your Aunt Edna pulling out her point-and-shoot for family photos at Christmas dinner, or your BFF taking a million selfies on NYE, there’s a good chance you’re going to end up in a few pictures that make the rounds on social media in the next couple of weeks.

3 posing hacks to make you look less awkward in front of the camera - Jason & Melaina Photography, Waco & Texas Wedding Photographers - www.jasonandmelaina.com

But what if having your picture taken fills you with dread and makes you get the nervous sweats? What if you want to look posed and confidence like the picture on the right, but are terrified you’ll look more awkward and uncomfortable like the picture on the left?

Have no fear, friend! We’ve literally taken courses on how to pose people in flattering poses and we’re going to share with all you ladies (sorry, fellas) 3 quick posing tricks to give you confidence the next time your picture is taken.

These posing tips deal with 3 areas of the body women often consider unflattering in pictures - their necks, their upper arms, and their hips. So scroll down to learn our tips to make your neck double-chin-less, your arms slender, and trick the eye into thinking you’ve dropped a full dress size!

The Neck - “The Turtle” Posing Hack

Ever open up the camera on your phone and look down to realize it’s still on selfie mode? Then you know how unflattering multiple chins can look! If the potential to have a double-chin or saggy neck is something you worry about when you get your picture taken, there’s actually a really easy fix for this.

Get rid of your double-chin in photos with this posing trick - Jason & Melaina Photography, Waco & Texas Wedding Photographers - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Before I tell you the fix, though, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This posing hack is counter-intuitive to what your body will want to do. You see, when we have insecurities about how we’ll look in pictures, our tendency will be to back away from a camera. Someone brings out a camera or pulls out their phone for a group selfie, and we start worrying about how we’ll look in the picture and wish we weren’t getting our picture taken, and then we’ll start pulling our body away from the camera or phone in an attempt to “hide” ourselves.

But here’s the thing, if you pull your face back, you know what happens to the skin on your neck? It bunches up on itself! Even if you have barely anything to be considered a double-chin, pulling your face away from the camera is going to exaggerate that area of your neck. And you’ll end up with exactly what you were trying to avoid!

Profile view to demonstrate posing technique to get rid of your double chin in photos - Jason & Melaina Photography, Waco & Texas Wedding Photographers - www.jasonandmelaina.com

So instead of backing away, you need to do what we call “the turtle.” Imagine a turtle slowly stretching his neck out to push his face out of his shell. And then, ever so slightly, push your nose and chin towards the camera.  Pushing your face toward the camera slightly is going to stretch out your neck and get rid of any extra chins that could potentially show up.

The Upper Arms - The “Elbows Out” Posing Hack

Now not all of us are blessed with Michelle Obama arms and this trick isn’t going to help you have defined biceps. But it will help your upper arms to not appear as large as they could, which is a huge win!

Once again, your fears over how your body will look in the picture could in fact make your fears reality. Just like pulling our face away when we’re uncomfortable in front of the camera, our natural tendency with our arms will be to clamp them down at our sides. Maybe it helps us feel more secure, or maybe it’s our way of forcing ourselves to be as thin as possible? Whatever the reason behind it, holding your upper arms tightly against your body is going to force all the muscle and fat on your upper arm to spread out. Go ahead, try it now. If you hold your arms against you, you’re actually going to make your upper arms appear bigger than they normally are!

Before and after examples of posing trick to make your arms look slimmer in photos - Jason & Melaina Photography, Waco & Texas Wedding Photographers - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Instead, remember our simple trick, “elbows out.” If you’re concerned about how your upper arms look in pictures, when it’s time to pose simply pull your elbows away from your torso. This will allow a slight gap between your upper arm and your torso. By leaving this slight space you give your body definition and avoid flattening out the muscle and fat in your upper arm. Your upper torso will appear slimmer and the upper portion of your arm will look it’s thinnest. Win-win!

The Hips - The “Hip Swivel” Posing Hack

What if I told you that remembering to do our “hip swivel” posing trick in pictures will make you look one dress size smaller than you are? I haven’t actually measured to verify this claim, but I can say our “hip swivel” will trick the eye into thinking your hips are not the widest part of your body.

If you are concerned about how your hips look in pictures, you’ll want to avoid standing squarely facing the camera. Standing with your hips squared with your shoulders, pointing at the camera, is going to showcase the exact width of your hips and make them appear as the widest part of your body. But keeping your hips at an angle is going to give the illusion of a slim bottom half.

Before and after examples of posing technique to make your hips appear smaller in photos - Jason & Melaina Photography, Waco & Texas Wedding Photographers - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Here’s how to pull off our “hip swivel” technique. First, figure out the hip closest to the center of the group in the picture. Next, shift your weight onto that leg, pushing that half of the hip towards your rear. Now bring the other side of your hip slightly towards the camera. Finally, put a slight bend in your front leg, popping the knee and pointing it slightly towards the center of the picture.

So for example, say you're posing for a picture with your office BFF and she’s standing on your right side. You’ll need to shift your weight onto your right hip/leg and push it slightly behind you. Next you’ll bring your left hip slightly forward toward the camera. And finally, you’ll put a bend in your left knee and angle it towards the center of you and your friend.

Ta-Da! Now you're selfie ready!

And there you have it! 3 quick little adjustments you can make the next time you're in front of the camera to tweak any body areas that concern you. But more importantly, these posing hacks will give you confidence in front of the camera, and confidence is the most important tweak you can make in front of the camera!


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Should you have an unplugged wedding?

We’ve been blogging our answers to different questions we’ve been asked by our J&M Sweethearts. In previous posts we’ve talked about should you hire a planner, should you do a first look, and tips on what to wear to your engagement session. We’ve even shared some wedding planning advice from former brides.

In today’s Bride Advice blog we’re going to help you answer the question, “Should we have an unplugged wedding?” There’s quite a few articles out there written by photographers to explain why they would like you to have an unplugged wedding. But here we’re going to talk about reasons you as the bride and groom may want to consider having an unplugged wedding. But first…

A wedding guest takes a picture of a bride and groom with his cell phone during a wedding ceremony-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com 

WHAT IS AN “UNPLUGGED WEDDING?”

If you haven’t attended an “unplugged” wedding yourself, or haven’t come across the concept in your wedding-planning Pinterest searches, you may have never heard of an “unplugged wedding.” An unplugged wedding is a wedding where the couple asks their guests to put away their cell phones, iPads, and cameras, and refrain from taking pictures. Most often this is only requested during the ceremony portion of the day, but could potentially be a request for the entire ceremony and reception as well.

3 REASONS TO CONSIDER AN UNPLUGGED WEDDING

Being fully present

Imagine it’s your wedding day. You’re standing up at the altar with your sweetheart, preparing to say your vows and commit your lives to one another. You look out into the audience at all the most important people in your lives who have come to witness this day with you. And all you see is a sea of cellphones, tablets and cameras aimed at you, hiding the faces of those most important to you. Or people looking down at their phones as they post the picture they just took on their social media account.

Having an unplugged ceremony invites your guests to be fully present with you during this important moment in your love story. It allows you to lock eyes with your friends and families, truly cherishing this special once-in-a-lifetime moment you’re all sharing. If the thought of missing that connection with present guests makes you sad, you may want to consider requesting guests to put down their devices for your ceremony.

A wedding guest takes a picture of a bride and groom with her cell phone during a wedding reception-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

Public sharing of wedding images

Speaking of posting pictures to social media...If you consider yourself a more private person in what you share on social media you may want to consider an unplugged wedding as well. Guests are excited to share the pictures they have taken at your wedding to their Facebook or Instagram accounts, and will often tag you in the images. So it’s possible images of your wedding ceremony, your first kiss or first dance, or even you in your dress before the ceremony could be shared online for a lot of people to see before you’ve even seen pictures yourself. It could even be possible an excited guest or member of the bridal party will snap a quick picture of you before the ceremony and share it to social media, potentially ruining any sort of surprise you wanted to have in what your wedding gown and hair/makeup looks like. And if you didn’t do a first look and your groom-to-be happens to be scrolling social media on his phone before the ceremony and sees the post? Well that’s a bummer!

Less accidental photobombing

Our first two reasons for having an unplugged wedding dealt with the actual wedding day, but this last reason deals with the images and video footage you receive after your wedding from your photographers and/or videographers. I took the following image of Jason at a recent wedding as sort of a behind-the-scenes shot for our business. But it highlights the potential problem of well-meaning guests accidentally photobombing your photographers and/or videographers.

A photographer in the aisle during a wedding ceremony-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

I wasn’t worried about Jason taking this position in the aisle because 1) I knew Jason was aware I was behind him and was going to stay crouched down so I could photograph over him, and 2) I knew Jason wasn’t going to stay posted up in the center of the aisle the entire ceremony so I was still going to be able to get my shot of an empty aisle with the bride and groom at the altar.

However, we don’t always know this with guests at weddings. Excited guests who want to record those special moments, like your dad walking you down the aisle or your first kiss as husband and wife, may not realize they’ve accidentally stepped out in the aisle in front of the photographer or videographer you’ve paid to professionally capture that moment for you. Your guest may be so excited to capture video of your dance with your dad they step out onto the dance floor to get a better video, placing themselves in the frame of the sweet moment your photographer or videographer was trying to capture.

Granted, we can often move our position or change our framing of the moment. Or we can strategically crop the image later. And we’re often on the look out beforehand for guests with cameras or phones, taking into account their potential movement into our shots during pivotal moments so we can limit the number of accidental photobombs.

But sometimes, moving quickly is difficult for us, especially if the venue limits our mobility already as some chapels and churches do. Or the guest stands up the entire ceremony to film with their phone and there’s never a way to not have them in the wide-angle shots we do of the ceremony. Or lastly, your guest themselves may not end up photobombing the image, but the flash they used on their camera to take a quick picture of your kiss at the altar ends up completely throwing off our lighting settings for our cameras, and then it’s impossible to edit the bright flash out of that image later.

We can do a lot to make sure we capture those important images for you with as little photobombing as possible. But having an unplugged wedding drastically reduces the chances of any accidental photobombs during your wedding day.

SO SHOULD YOU HAVE AN UPLUGGED WEDDING?

We know your family and friends are going to want to take pictures with you and of you during your wedding day. And we actually love that! We love that your families and friends will be able to capture moments from their perspective on your wedding day, and be able to share those images with you. We also think it’s really fun when our couples have a wedding day hashtag and encourage guests to post images with it, so our Sweethearts can search that hashtag after their wedding to see all the fun their guests had that day. So if you can't wait to see all the different images from your guests documenting your full wedding day, then maybe an unplugged wedding isn't for you. 

A wedding hashtag signs-Should you have an unplugged wedding?, written by Texas Wedding Photographers, Jason & Melaina Photography-www.jasonandmelaina.com

But if you find yourself torn between wanting to have guests use a hashtag but also wanting to have fully present guests who won’t accidentally photobomb your wedding photographers or videographers, a great compromise could be having an unplugged ceremony. It could be as simple as having a sign at the entrance to the ceremony or something printed in the program asking guests to be fully present with you in this moment and put their phones away. You could even have your officiant make the request before the ceremony begins. And then, as guests head into the reception, you can have signs up or cards on the tables sharing your wedding day hashtag and encouraging guests to get those phones and cameras back out. Then it's a win-win!


What are your thoughts on an unplugged wedding? Leave us a comment below to let us know!

Tips on how to dress for your engagement portraits | Jason & Melaina Photography | Texas Wedding Photographers

When I’m preparing to post images of couples on our social media or website, I’m looking for a lot of things. How does the lighting look in this image? What story is it telling? Do their reactions look natural and in love?

You know what I look for when it’s time to post an image of myself?

Do I look good in this picture?

So trust me when I say, “I get it.” It doesn’t matter how great the lighting is, the background is, how much love is showing on your fiance’s face, if you think you look “weird” in a picture you’re not going to like it. You’re not going to want to have it displayed in your custom wedding guest book we make you. You’re not going to want to frame it in your new home. And your grandkids are going to miss seeing young and in love grandma and grandpa in old, framed portraits.

Our mission as your photographers is not to just take pretty pictures, but to create lasting images you LOVE and want to look at over and over again. And we fail at that mission if everything is technically perfect but you don’t like how you look!

There’s a lot we can do on our end to help with this, including teaching you our posing techniques and walking you through looking natural for your engagement portraits session. But another element that ensures you love your engagement portraits is decided before you even arrive, and that’s what you wear. The outfits you and your sweetheart pick for your engagement portraits will go a long way in making you love the way you look in the finished product.

So in this post for our Bride’s Advice series, we’re going to tackle the topic of dressing for your engagement session so you LOVE your engagement portraits!

Tips on how to dress for your engagement portraits, Jason & Melaina Photography, Texas Wedding Photographers

Being Dressy & Being You

When our Sweethearts ask me what to wear for their engagement photo session, my response up until now was “dress one level above what you consider natural for you.” I wanted to help our couples find the balance between dressing in outfits that felt like them and not out of character, while also helping them dress for the special occasion of once-in-a-lifetime engagement portraits. I wanted to help them feel dressy and beautiful, and also comfortable and like themselves.

But I’ve realized this response still doesn’t provide practical tips in picking out clothing options for your engagement session. So here are a few tricks we’ve learned as professional photographers that can help you nail your engagement portrait session outfits.

Tips on how to dress for your engagement portraits, Jason & Melaina Photography, Texas Wedding Photographers

For the Ladies

Pick an outfit that will make you feel confident

My number one trick for helping brides-to-be love how they look in their engagement portraits? Wear what makes you feel confident! You know that feeling of putting on an outfit you love, or a new dress in your favorite color that makes your eyes pop, and suddenly you feel like you look amazing and can conquer the world? Find an outfit that makes you feel that! And avoid outfits that don’t, regardless of what’s cool and trendy right now.

If I’m being 100% honest (and I can do that with you, right, because we’re friends?), I’m a little bit self-conscious about my stomach. Having 2 kids has changed my waistline and I’m aware of that. So wearing a dress or top that is tight across my stomach does not make me feel confident at all. It makes me feel like maybe people are wondering if I’m pregnant again. I’m working on feeling more body-positive, but in the meantime, I’m always going to opt for more flowy dresses and tops for portraits because they make me feel more super model confident and less self-conscious.

So when you’re picking out your engagement portrait outfits, brides, think about how the outfits make you feel. Because your clothing choices are going to impact your emotions at your portrait session. If your outfit makes you feel uncomfortable, you’ll feel and look uncomfortable for the session. But if your outfit makes you feel confident, that’s going to show in your face and you’re going to kill it for your engagement portraits!

Dresses

Dresses are my favorite go-to suggestion for our brides-to-be for two important reasons. First, dresses will make you look more feminine. Most brides-to-be want to look bride-like in their engagement portraits. They want to look beautiful and feminine, and a dress will help accomplish this much faster than jeans and a nice top. Second, dresses come in so many different styles you will definitely find one that makes you feel confident! Whether it’s a flowy skirt and matching top, a shorter cocktail dress, or the perfect sun dress, you are bound to find a dress that makes you feel beautiful and “dressy enough” for your engagement portraits while also feeling 100% you.

The power of heels

Can I let you in on a little secret? Wearing heels during your engagement session is a small thing you can do to make a huge impact on how you look in your engagement portraits. A good pair of heels can do so much! Heels will make your legs appear longer in portraits, tricking the eye into thinking you’ve gained a few inches in the length of your legs. Heels force you to stand on the balls of your feet, which in turn gives more definition to your calves. Try standing in front of a mirror wearing flip flops vs. heels and you can see how much more defined your calf muscles and legs will be in the heels! And finally, standing in heels forces you to have straighter posture to keep your center of gravity, which will help you not slouch in your back and/or shoulders during your portraits. Longer looking legs, defined calves, and looking taller with better posture can all easily be accomplished simply by choosing a pair of heels over sandals or flats. And if you’re worried about your feet hurting, I’ll let you in on another little secret. Bring a pair of comfy flats or flip flops to wear when your feet aren't in the picture.

Tips on how to dress for your engagement portraits, Jason & Melaina Photography, Texas Wedding Photographers

For the Fellas

Dress up for her

Most guys are going to choose dressing for comfort over dressing up every time. But showing up to an engagement session in shorts and a shirt is not going to make you say “Wow!” when you see the portraits, and it’s probably going to frustrate your fiance as well. So my number one tip for guys here? Dress up for your fiance. She probably has a vision in her mind of how she wants you both to look for these once-in-a-lifetime portraits. So ask her! Humoring her by wearing some slacks and a button-up shirt for this one thing is going to help her vision come to life, and earn you some points with her too!

Dress to her level

A follow up to dressing up for her is to dress at the same level as your fiance for engagement portraits. If you wear jeans and a nice shirt which is dressing up for you, but she wears a floor-length gown, there’s going to be disunity between you, even if both of you are technically “dressed up.” However, if you dress at the same level as her, you will look like a unified, beautiful couple. And her beauty will be reflected well by you, which in turn will make you look handsome too.

The power of suit jackets

Here’s our little secret for our J&M Grooms-to-be. A blazer/suit jacket is going to do wonders at making you look masculine and handsome in your engagement images! Just like the heels for our ladies, a suit jacket is a small choice that makes a huge impact. And here’s why - the ideal masculine frame is a triangle, with broad shoulders narrowing in at the waistline.

Think of any superhero and all of them have costumes that help them appear broad shouldered and narrowed at their chiseled, rock-hard abs. Now think of Homer Simpson, who I think we can all agree is not held up as the ideal, attractive man. What is his body type? Round shoulders with a larger waistline/lower half, the exact opposite of our superheros. My guess is you’d rather look like Captain America than Homer Simpson in your portraits, right?

Well, a suit jacket makes that happen for you! A well-cut blazer gives the appearance of broad shoulders by squaring your shoulders. It will draw in more at the waistline. And the lapels literally highlight the desired triangle shape, drawing the eye from broad shoulders down at an angle to a slimmer waist. A superhero body all from simply putting on a jacket!

Photo of Jason by the talented  Powley Photo

Photo of Jason by the talented Powley Photo

Love how you look = Love your engagement portraits

We hope these tips will give you confidence when you're trying to decide what to wear to your engagement portrait session. We think keeping them in mind when preparing for your session is going to go a long way in making you feel like a confident rock star in front of the camera. And feeling confident is going to ensure you love your engagement portraits for years to come! 


To see more beautiful engagement portraits, head over to our gallery on our J&M Weddings page.