How to mentally prepare for your photo shoot

Standing in front of a camera can be scary. I totally get you - there is a reason why I am always standing behind. Many of my clients tend to be a bit nervous before the shoot and are not sure how they should behave in front of a lens. But it does not have to be all horrible and stiff. A photo shoot is a great experience, as long as we make it one! I am always doing my best to make everyone on set feel comfortable; especially my models, equine and human. But I would love for you to not even get to the point where you are nervous! So, how can you shake off this nervousness and stand in front of the camera, full of confidence and with a great feeling? I have asked a specialist on the field for some tips:

Dora Gocze

Hi, I'm Dora Gocze. European Champion Western rider, Trainer, Performance Coach, and Mental Trainer. I'm passionate about helping people develop and achieve their goals. I work with both training, teaching, and competing in Western riding and coaching both riders and other individuals with all kinds of backgrounds and professions. My very own Personal Development Program 'the LEAD CHANGE by Dora Gocze' launched in August 2023 and offers 1:1 sessions, workshops and courses for people who are looking to get help for their personal development inside or outside of the horse-world. 

Having found the specialist on the field, I asked her all the questions that might come up before a photo shoot. This is how she answered:

"I would like some pictures together with my horse, but feel like I am completely unphotogenic. How can I become more confident?"

Time to change that story! Being photogenic is often not something people are born with, but something we can practice and learn. I can guarantee you that with the right preparation and proper communication with your photographer, it's possible for everybody to get great pictures of themselves! You might just need to find the right style and set up for your photoshoot. Consider what's natural for you, maybe think about a picture of yourself that you like and find out, what is it about the picture that makes it good? Share your feelings with the photographer and ask for advice! Make sure to mention, if there are any angles or setups that you are not comfortable with and let them guide you, so together you can find the right place, the right clothes and the right style for your pictures, so you will be satisfied with the result. And please remember not to compare yourself with others. Use your time and energy on finding your own unique way of expressing yourself and you'll notice that it shines through the pictures!

"I have booked a photo session, but am very nervous about standing in front of the camera. How can I find my balance?"

Good communication with your photographer is key! It's important that you are honest and willing to share, that you are nervous about the photoshoot, this way your photographer can support you and make sure that you are comfortable during the whole process. Ask all your questions ahead of time: the more prepared you are, the more likely that you'll be able to handle your nerves on the day. 

On another note, there are a couple of exercises you can do ahead of your photoshoot, to feel better about standing in front of the camera:

1. Start by writing down what it would take to make this day a success. Focus on things that you can control, for example arriving on time, having enough helpers etc. Sharing this list with your photographer would be a great idea and a good conversation to have before the photo shoot. 

2. Another exercise that could be useful is a simple visualization. Our brain uses a lot of energy to protect us and thereby a lot of time speculating on what can go wrong. Close your eyes and imagine the perfect photoshoot with everything working out the way you wanted it! Feel it, smell it, go through it over and over again. This exercise will give you a lot of confidence ahead of your photoshoot and it can help you get a handle on your nerves. 

"My horse can sometimes be nervous. How can I help it to have a good experience during our photo session?"

Practice, practice and more practice! Ask yourself the following question: What situations will my horse need to cope with on the day and how can I best prepare him for it? If you have been to a photoshoot before, I'm sure that you already have a few things to work on, such as standing still, being comfortable at the location, getting the ears forward and trying the different poses that you'd like to do with your horse. If this will be your first time, I can only recommend you to contact your photographer and ask them for advice regarding the specific photoshoot you're preparing for. They will be able to guide you to exercises and situations that will be very useful to try before your photoshoot. 

Also, consider what is the right amount of challenge for your horse. Is he an older, "been there done that" type? Then it's probably a good idea to try something more challenging. Do you own a young horse with limited experience? Then you'd be better off choosing locations he is comfortable with and poses he can do easily, so the photoshoot will be a success for both you, your horse, and your photographer. Good helpers are also worth their weight in gold during a photoshoot. They can support both you and your horse and having the right help will impact the outcome of your photoshoot dramatically. 

I hope that my advice will help you prepare for your photoshoot and make it a positive experience for you and your horse!

A note from your photographer

Thank you, Dora! This is some great advice and I could not agree more! Communication is key to a successful photo session. May it be before, during, or after. If you are nervous, insecure, or have other considerations, I want to know! And I am sure, together we can handle it and make this day of your photo shoot as fun and happy as it should be!

Another great way of getting your emotions under control: Be as prepared as possible with my quick guide!

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Hej, I'm Anna

The horse-girl behind the camera

Welcome to my world of equine fine art photography! This is me - Anna, a German living in Denmark, loving horses, dogs and Lakridskugler. Always ready to try creative ideas, explore beautiful locations, or finding the beauty in your daily life. Read more about my work.

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