One thing most brides don’t prepare for until the wedding day has arrived is how to feel natural in front of the camera. When you get to work with a talent like Uma Sanghvi of Studio Uma, there’s no doubt you’ll end up with stunning photos either way! But it can be challenging to let loose, ignore the lens and feel truly comfortable. So, Uma herself is sharing with us some of her tried and true modeling tips that will result in the best outcome possible—laid back, happy, gorgeous photos that are all YOU.

From Studio Uma… Taking posed portraits is one of my favorite parts of a wedding. One of my deepest motivations for being a photographer is being able to capture a person’s natural beauty in an image, and do it in a creative, artful way. Being able to give that gift to a bride and a groom (and their families) is so rewarding for me.

While it’s great if you know what a smize is, I don’t expect my clients to know anything at all about posing or modeling. After all it is the photographers job to direct the photo shoot and make beautiful photographs. But sometimes brides ask me for advice before a shoot. So I’d love to share a few modeling tips for brides and grooms-to-be. Whether you’re getting ready for an engagement session or your wedding portraits, I hope these pointers give you an extra edge, and put you at ease!

1. Be natural.

So simple, and this is truly the most important tip. Leave the difficult stuff to your photographer (figuring out how and where to pose you). But you will be such a help to them by looking and feeling as natural as you can. Natural, relaxed, comfortable. It’s the feeling part that counts. It’s kind of amazing how what you feel inside is literally broadcast on your face and in your body language.

One way to achieve this is to pretend the camera is catching you in a real moment. For example, maybe your photographer has directed you to embrace one another. Then focus on the affection you feel for your partner. Breathe it in. Whatever you need to do to achieve that state of mind – do it. Close your eyes, sneak a kiss, revisit a memory of that person that makes you feel good.

Or maybe your photographer has you walking hand-in-hand down a scenic road. Then focus on what it feels like to hold the hand of the person you love. Enjoy the scenery around you. The best pictures start from the inside out, so if you can be more engaged (literally!) with your partner than you are with the camera, that’s a powerful thing. Your pictures will have a natural beauty to them.

2. Stand up straight.

This is another powerhouse tip. When you straighten your spine, it automatically makes you look thinner and more graceful. An elongated spine does wonders for photos. So shoulders back and no hunching (your mother was right!) By the way, having good posture is something that makes all your wedding photos better – not just the portraits. It makes ceremony pictures better. And first dance pictures better. And putting-on-your-dress pictures better. It’s just that good.

3. Play with something.

Your posture is important, and so are your hands. The camera loves interaction. I always make sure that the hands in a photograph are doing something – not just hanging. Your dress, veil, bouquet, your hair, his tie – there’s ways to play with all of these things – and that can create a more dynamic picture. It can be as simple as reaching up to fiddle with one of your earrings, or reaching down to smooth out your dress. The subtlest movement or moment might take a “good” photograph to “amazing”.

This is why when my clients bring props of any kind to a photo shoot, I’m overjoyed. Anything you can move and interact with – from sparklers to rose petals to a Vespa to your adorable dogs – qualify as props. And they can transform a typical photo shoot into something magical.

4. Make each other laugh.

Laughter is a beautiful thing! The camera LOVES it. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a comedian, you do know your fiance pretty well. I bet you could think of one or two things to whisper to him/her to make them react, right? (And if you know where they’re ticklish, then hey…) And making another person laugh is a chain reaction. Soon you’re laughing at their surprise, and voila – a real moment for the camera to capture.

Sometimes it’s as simple as acknowledging that its kind of awkward taking pictures in our wedding clothes while a bunch of people are staring at us. Just laugh at the moment and enjoy it.

5. Find the right photographer for you.

One thing that no one tells you is that you spend more time on your wedding day with your photographer than any other vendor (and most likely, any other person). They are present for the kisses, and the tears. So when they’re around, you should feel relaxed and free to be yourself. That sense of trust and comfort especially shines through in your portrait session, when it’s just you, your beloved and your photographer.

Have coffee with this person if you can, and just see if you like spending time with them. He or she will, after all, be with you at some of the most intimate moments of your wedding.

Photography and Modeling Tips: Studio Uma