How To Overcome Your Photography Anxiety

Don Orkoskey | October 11, 2022

Don Orkoskey Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer

Having your photo taken can be a stressful situation but it doesn't need to be. Here is my advice on how to overcome photography anxiety. You've lined up an appointment for headshots or branding portraits. As the day draws closer the stress levels start to creep up. What you're experiencing is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact anxiety over having your picture taken is more common than not stressing about picture day.

If you're worried about your portrait session there is a good chance that will show up in your photos. As a photographer I know you don't want that. I don't want that either. You deserve to have a stress-free portrait session and I know just how to deliver that for you.

Overcoming Photography Anxiety

It's not easy trying to overcome photography anxiety on your own. Most of us don't have our portraits professionally taken very often. That's why I've developed a systems to help you relax, feel confident, and leave with portraits that make you feel fabulous!

Origins of Photography Anxiety

Many of us have had school or family photos taken which have caused us a small or sometimes large amount of trauma. These traumatic experiences are often the origins of our photography anxiety. As with many things in our lives such as being forced to eat foods which we hated as kids to having our cheeks pinched the anxiety from a bad photo session can leave us not wanting to ever repeat that experience.

Find A Photographer Who Understands Anxiety

Before you can overcome this anxiety you need to find a photographer who understands it. A lot of photographers are very busy. They may not make the time or effort to ensure that you're feeling comfortable and stress free. Look for photographers that will take their time with you, will make sure you're feeling good, and that can help you feel more confident and relaxed.

One way to find a photographer near you who understands anxiety is to read a few photographer's blogs. Chances are good that, as someone with anxiety, you're likely to be good at reading people. Put that to use by getting to know photographers before reaching out to them.

Working with a photographer who understands anxiety means they will help you overcome it. Photographers who understand anxiety will take their time with you, they'll listen to you, and they'll use what you've said to help you relax and look great. They'll usually show you some of your photos early on. This can help put you at ease. They'll also stop and give you time if you need a break.

Find A Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer

If you're looking for a headshot or portrait photographer near Pittsburgh (other than myself) let me help you find them. The most important thing to me is that you find a portrait photographer that you will feel as relaxed as possible with. If that isn't me, that's okay. As someone with an anxiety disorder I care more about you finding the right photographer than being the almost right photographer.

There are a number of great portrait photographers near Pittsburgh who genuinely care about your comfort. I'm proud to count a number of them as friends. I would love to be your go to portrait photographer in Pittsburgh but I understand there are many factors that you need to weigh. I'm not always available, you may want a woman photographer or be looking for that certain look.

Here are a few Pittsburgh portrait photographers who I highly recommend. All of them are great people who will work with you to help you overcome your anxiety in much of the same ways I do. They will help you build your confidence, feel calm, and to make your portraits look amazing.

Jen Worley

Jen Worley is one of Pittsburgh's most sought after headshot photographers. She's also a good friend of mine. She's not only a great photographer but she truly cares about how you look and feel.

Jordan Bellotti

Jordan Bellotti puts your comfort front and center in his work. Like myself, Jordan specifically works with people who have serious anxiety around having their headshots done.

Heather Tabacchi

Heather Tabacchi is all about making you look and feel fabulous no matter who you are or how anxious you are about having your photos taken. Check her out on Instagram too because her reels are legendary and a ton of fun.

How to Reduce Photography Anxiety

It might not go away entirely but there are ways to reduce photography anxiety. After you've found a great portrait photographer near you who understands how to deal with anxious clients you can do a few things to help bring that anxiety down yourself.

Rest and Relaxation

As much as possible you should be well rested and as relaxed as possible before your photo session. I understand that this isn't always possible. That is why I encourage anxious clients to show up at least 15 minutes early. When you show up early that 15 to 30 minutes can help you center yourself and find some calm.

Breath Deep, Drink More Water, Get Some Sleep

I find that deep breaths and sleeping as much as I should help reduce my anxiety. I know that's easier said that done. Still it's important and so is drinking plenty of water. Water will help you look great. Hydrated skin, eyes, and hair just looks much better which will help you feel more confident. Avoid alcohol as it can do the opposite. Deep breathing helps us to be in the moment. If you hold your breath a tiny bit after you exhale it will bring your heart rate down.

Tell Me What You Want

Let the photographer know what you want. Do a bit of research on what makes people with your body type or with anything you dislike about your appearance look great. I promise that no matter what there are ideas out there which you can find and will love once you try them.

Tell your photographer what you're uncomfortable with before the session. We'll have a lot of suggestions from outfit choices to poses. As a bigger guy it makes sense to photograph me from a slightly higher angle so my face and not my belly is closest to the camera. However I'm also going bald so I'm a really big challenge for photographers!

There are so many things that we as photographers can do to help minimize and draw attention from whatever you want. We can also draw attention to things to help keep people looking at whatever it is about you that you love and would like to celebrate.

Strike A Pose

It will feel really silly but take time to try out a few poses in a full length mirror. Check out Instagram or Pinterest to find poses that you like and then try them out. The mirror won't tell you the absolute truth but you can get an idea from doing so.

Feeling like you've got some control over how your body is seen goes a long way to reducing anxiety. There is nothing worse than sitting on that posing stool having no idea what the photographer is doing to you. Practicing in advance will help you better understand what angles look great on you.

Don't Stop Until You Get Enough

As a photographer who specializes in helping anxious clients I highly recommend working with us until you're happy with the results. I know if can be hard to tell someone you're not as happy as you could be with their work. The good news is that, as photographers, we're used to it. We have been critiqued to the moon and back. As a result you are free to tell us if you don't like the angle, the light, your expression or pose, or anything else. We want you to be happy with your photos.

We're Not Gonna Take It

I want to take your photo but if you don't want your photo taken you can and should set that boundary. I don't care if the person insisting that you be photographed is your boss or your mother. The truth is that some people don't want their photo taken because it's just too much of an ask.

I say this to parents all the time, a family photo isn't worth traumatizing your child over. Yes, it would be good to have one. Sure we can try again later, but if you or your child doesn't want their photo taken people should respect that boundary.

Check out my family photos & read about making your family portrait experience a positive one here.  

Photography Anxiety Is Real But You Can Overcome It

The last thing I want to say is that photography anxiety is real but you can overcome it. Don't let anyone pressure you or say that it's "just a photo" or to deny how you feel. You can say that you don't want to be photographed. You can also find a photographer like myself who understands photography anxiety and can help you overcome it.

If you're looking for a photographer or are a photographer and want to talk more about this subject contact me. I'm more than happy to discuss this topic in more detail or to work with you to reduce your anxiety or to help others reduce theirs if you're also a photographer. Please take care of yourself, love yourself, and find photographers and other people who will love and support you just the way you are.

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