May Feature: Francesca

MAY FEATURE / Ricky Bobby & Francesca Halberg!

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Tips & Tricks to help people avoid that anxious, “I don’t know what to do with my hands” feeling.

If you’ve never been in front of the camera and are a little nervous, I hope these tips will help you loosen up, have fun & enjoy your session without worrying so much about looking like Ricky cause we all know how awkward that was... 



I’ve asked a friend and fellow fashion blogger who I have photographed quite a bit, Francesca Halberg of Smalltown Couture, to help me help you! She has amazing tips & tricks to help you feel more comfortable in front of the lens. 

 [SPOILER ALERT, HFPhoto fully supports & encourages a little liquid courage]

Francesca, First... Thank you so much for your expertise on this topic! I've photographed you quite a bit and from the start, you seemed comfortable in front of the camera. What helped you gain that comfortability? 

Something that really helped me become comfortable in front of the camera was taking pictures with family members first. With a family member, you don’t mind asking them to take the same photo again and again - and it’s free! You start to notice which angles you like, what type of clothing works best, which smiles, etc. I was able to replicate the things I liked, which helped me to feel more natural in my poses when working with photographers. Although this may seem funny, I treasure the opportunities that I have to work with photographers, I want to love myself in the photos - and I want to get the most bang for my buck!  


How can I as a photographer, help someone who may not be comfortable feel natural and confident?

Hannah as a photographer, you are truly gifted for the pictures you can take, but that’s only half of what you’re bringing to the table. **And you better not edit this out, missy, I’ll be checking haha!** It wasn’t until I started working with you that I truly had a sense for how the shoot was going. Although I’m comfortable in front of the camera, my husband is not, but you wouldn’t have known that. The energy that you give people, the motivation, the feedback is all a part of making someone feel beautiful and confident in front of the camera. You do this effortlessly. I’ve worked with quiet photographers and gotten some beautiful shots, but I haven’t enjoyed the process because I felt awkward. If no one is saying anything you feel like you must be doing something wrong. You constantly praise, uplift, agree, encourage and people feed off of that energy and want to keep going. 



How do you achieve that effortless look, while still being conscious of your hands, eyes, posture and pose?

All of these answers are going to make me sound like a narcissist! But, I genuinely love having professional photos in our home and I want to love myself in them too. The more comfortable you feel about your poses, the more effortless you’ll look on camera. Each time I get photos back, or you can simply scroll through photos on your phone of yourself, you’ll notice little things. 

“Oh, I look longer and leaner with my shoulders back.” 

“I photograph better from my left side.” 

“Putting one foot forward and separating my legs makes my legs look leaner.” 

These are all things I’ve learned about myself through the years of working with photographers. Not having to worry about coming up with the “pose” takes a ton of pressure off once the camera gets picked up. Feedback from the photographer helps too! Hannah will 100% tell you what’s working on camera so you’ll start to get a feel for what looks right with your body on camera.


What should people remember, if nothing else, while being photographed?

 Honestly, to relax. If you’re relaxed that’ll translate on camera. If you are nervous, tense or uncomfortable the pictures won’t look right no matter what you’re wearing or where you’re taking the photos. 


What is something people should always avoid no matter what age or body type? 

 You know, I think the best thing I could offer is to always feel comfortable in front of the camera. That advice knows no age or body type. Although that may seem easier said than done, there are some elements that you can be in control of.  For example, your outfit. If you’re favorite dress is too small or too short, it won’t work on camera. I’ve taken photos in things that were too small or too tight and you can tell on camera that I don’t feel comfortable. I’m trying to stand a certain way to conceal this, but it just doesn’t work. I also would have a terrible poker face because it’s all over my facial expressions and body language. As soon as I change into the next thing I’m back to my normal self! Take the time to plan your outfits for a shoot and make sure you feel comfortable in every single piece. It also doesn’t hurt to have your friend, sister, husband, whoever take some pictures of you in the outfit. I’ll be honest at how often I’m surprised that something looked one way in the mirror and completely different on camera. If you get some photos on your phone first, you’re able to see things like “oh I should add a belt to this to define my waistline” instead of wishing you had noticed that when the photos come back. 

The other thing about being comfortable is poses. Again, having someone take some pictures of you on your phone will go a long way. But you also know your body, sometimes photographers will want you to try out cool or unique poses. If you don’t feel comfortable that won’t translate well on camera. Stick to what you know and just have fun with it! 



The clothing choice for a photography session (I think) is one of the most important aspects, (besides killer light of course)  in making sure someone is comfortable.

Do you have any tips or tricks in picking out the outfit?

The clothing choice is so important when it comes to helping someone feel comfortable. The best advice I can give you is to stay true to who you are and honestly, keep it simple. Picture day is not the day to try new things or wear something outside of your comfort zone. Wearing something classic, timeless and simple will help you to treasure the photos for years to come - not look back and cringe and think what was I wearing!?

When it comes to clothing for a shoot, I’ll be honest, it’s more about how the clothes look on you than what you’re actually wearing. If you’re wearing a simple black sweater and jeans but both fit you will, you’ll look like a knock out because your smile and comfortability will shine through. If you’re wearing a dress that’s too tight or that you can’t really move in, you’ll likely look heavier and more awkward than if the dress just fit you right. 

If you’re looking in your closet and trying to decide what to choose, I typically recommend 2-3 outfits for a shoot (engagement, family, maternity, etc.) 3 outfits gives you a really good range of looks so you feel like each of the photos are unique. For women, it’s a little more challenging. Guys can bring one pair of pants, two shirts and then a suit and be all set. For ladies it can be a little trickier. I typically recommend, jeans for one look, a fun dress with sandals for a second and then a dressier for the third. For a dressier option it’s always fun to do something that has movement in the bottom, a  maxi dress or a ruffled bottom look great in the wind or if you’re twirling!


General advice for people who might be a little nervous to book because of their anxious feelings? 

Just jump in. Photos last a lifetime and you can make the session uniquely your own. I’ve taken photos for years but I still love to have a glass of wine or a cocktail before a shoot to just help me feel relaxed. While alcohol may not be the answer for everyone, you can find anything to make the session work for you. You can play music or go to your favorite place, wear your favorite outfit or bring your favorite person. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture something truly great just because you’re nervous! Although I know she’ll roll her eyes as she reads this, if you are nervous or anxious, Hannah is the photographer for you. She truly has a way of making you forget the camera is even there and when a photographer is able to do that there really is nothing else you can ask for! 



Im not crying, you're crying. 

(Thank you so much Francesca!) 


Now you are all set and have the tips and tricks to relax, have fun, and look AMAZING in front of the camera!