How to Stop Being Camera Shy
Do you have camera shyness? Whether you live with social anxiety or not, camera shyness can be an issue. This can mean a fear of having your photograph taken or a fear of being on video—or both!
I know for myself, I don’t really like either. I’ve always justified it with the idea that only people who are full of themselves like to have their pictures taken. But the truth is that photographs and videos serve a number of purposes and if you’re avoiding them—you are missing out.
You’re missing out on having treasured memories of you on vacation, of you with family and friends, etc. And if you refuse to go on video, you might be missing out on the newest trend—video chats, video conferencing, and doing live or recorded videos for your audience (if you run a website like I do).
It’s something I realized that I needed to get over myself, and so I figured there are a lot of other people out there in the same boat as me. The truth is that the answer is quite simple. Not easy, but simple.
Do you know what it is?
You just need to do it. And do it again. And keep doing it… again and again, to the point that it becomes so boring and mundane that you can’t ever remember feeling weird about it.
I can’t say I’m there yet. I’ve just started posting more photos of myself (you’ll start to see them if you follow me on Instagram) and I’m still a work in progress. So come on along with me for the ride, as I share the best tips I have found for making it easier on yourself.
And remember, this is not to say that if you live with crippling social or performance anxiety that any of this will be helpful to you at this point. Instead, your best bet might be to first talk to a therapist. I have used and recommend Betterhelp online therapy if you don’t have access to someone locally.
I know relaxation techniques sounds cliche, but they actually do work. I find the best ones for me involve progressive muscle relaxation, where you alternate tensing and relaxing muscles in your body.
This is something that is best practiced at a time when you can relax, not when you’re about to get a photo taken or go on video! For those times, I suggest making sure you are not holding your breath (common mistake).
And if you just can’t relax, try to make yourself laugh or ask someone else to make you laugh. If you need some inspiration, I love following Celeste Barber on Instagram. She is a hoot.
If you think that positive affirmations don’t work, you’re probably not using them often enough. It’s not about pulling out a sheet of affirmations once a day and reading through them. Nope—what you need to do is keep saying the same positive things over and over in your head to the point that they start appearing in your brain on their own.
Seem impossible? Do you ever have negative thoughts that seem to appear out of nowhere? Those appear because you’ve worn down pathways in your brain for those thoughts to happen. You can do the same thing with positive ones. If you’d like some confidence affirmations, I have a whole list of them here.
Manage Negative Thoughts
Just as you are building up your positive affirmations, it’s also important to be mindful of negative things you are saying to yourself. My friend and blogger Faith Mariah at Radical Transformation Project calls these “troll thoughts,” which I think is an appropriate name. These are those things that keep running through your head, sometimes without you even realizing it.
Next time you feel uncomfortable having your picture taken or going on video, try to write down three thoughts that you had right before you had those uncomfortable feelings. Then go through a process of identifying and correcting your unhelpful thinking patterns. You can learn more about how to do that in this post about using a CBT worksheet.
Do whatever you can to make yourself feel comfortable when you are on video or having your picture taken. This might mean choosing clothing that makes you feel good, finding lighting that is flattering, or finding a location that is soothing or that makes it easy for you to relax.
For the last photo I took of myself for Instagram, I literally was just out walking along a trail and stopped for a minute at the top of the hill. I was more focused on my walk and nature than on the photograph, so I didn’t give it too much thought. If you find yourself immersed in an activity that you are enjoying, that might be a good time to pull out your phone or camera and just take a photo.
Practice Social Skills
I’m right in the middle of working on a social skills workbook right now! This applies mostly to video, though perhaps a bit to photos as well. The most important thing I would stress is that smiling will help a ton. Why? It will make you feel more relaxed. It will make others feel as though you are confident and relaxed. If it feels forced at first, that’s okay. Just keep trying.
Visualize Positive Outcomes
Instead of imagining how awful your photo is going to be or how awkward you will appear on camera, why not imagining the best it could be?
One way I’ve found to do this is to find someone you want to model yourself after or emulate. There’s actually a lot that goes into taking good photographs, and if you start focusing on a positive outcome, you will take steps to make them better.
Stop thinking about what will go wrong, and focus on figuring out how to make things go right.
If you want more tips on how to take good photos, I recommend Cassie Scroggins post on this. And if you want to learn more about videos, Jennifer Maker has a good course called Camera Ready. I also like the idea of looking for photos on Pinterest of other people that you like, and trying to take similar ones.
Have a Purpose
If you have a purpose bigger than yourself when you take a photo or video, it will be easier to get over camera shyness. Focus on the memory you want to make last or how you are building your business—whatever higher goal you are trying to achieve.
As they say, practice makes perfect… well I don’t want you to strive for perfection, but I do want you to get a lot of practice. Take every opportunity that comes along to get into photographs.
Practice posing in front of a mirror so you know what looks best; typically, bending one arm and one leg looks better than standing stiffly. You can also practice by taking selfies (gasp—I can’t believe I’m actually recommending this).
These don’t have to be pictures that anyone sees. They are just for you to start to feel more comfortable seeing yourself in pictures and on video and experience less camera shyness.
They say that using props in pictures can make you feel more comfortable. I’ve also noticed that photos where people are holding props tend to look more natural.
Choose something that fits the scene, like a coffee mug if you’re doing a business shoot or a fun hat if you’re at the beach. The idea is to take some focus off of yourself and also make the picture look more interesting.
Focus on a Friend
As you take your picture or video, imagine that you are looking at or talking to a very good friend. It will help you to look more natural and also build a relationship through the lens.
The idea is that you will instantly feel more comfortable if you feel like you’re just doing this for one person you know very well. You could either imagine this or actually put a photo of your friend next to the lens to remind you as you talk or take your picture. And if you’re having a professional take your picture, you could even bring a friend along.
Do Something Worse
This isn’t recommended if your anxiety is severe, but one way to get over camera shyness is to actually do something worse than what you fear. I know you probably won’t do this, but Faith Mariah who I mentioned earlier actually participated in a nude group photo shoot to get over her fear of being on camera. I have to believe that after that experience, no regular photo would ever seem daunting or induce camera shyness.
Let Go of Perfection
It will never be perfect. You can make things look or sound better over time, by learning about photography or videography, but it’s important not to let perfection stand in your way of just getting started.
Unpolished and raw is often what people connect to more anyway.
Do you want to have the most perfect, beautiful photos or do you want to have the ones that show who you really are? The other truth is that you won’t be able to improve until you actually get started, so you need to get started if you want to get better.
Create a Persona
Finally, if you’re really uncomfortable and can’t feel yourself on camera—stop trying! Develop a persona that you can draw on when it’s time to get your photo taken or go on video. It worked for Superman, it can work for you too.
One way to do this is to make one of those props I discussed earlier become part of your signature look that signals you’ve switched over to your other persona. They say in acting that the only person who looks ridiculous is the one who is afraid of looking that way. You really can’t be too outlandish, as long as you are being comfortable with it.
If all else fails, and you’re not comfortable with the photos you’ve taken or videos that you’ve logged, just try later. You might find inspiration in something else that makes you feel more confident, or you might find yourself in the middle of something that inspires a picture or video.
While you obviously can’t do this for a spontaneous group photo, those are usually fewer and farther between. The more photos you take of yourself on your own, the better you will be prepared for the rest.
That’s it from me on this topic. Do you have camera shyness? I’d love to know how you are working on getting over it.
Related Articles about Performance Anxiety
- 6 Tips to Manage Performance Anxiety
- How a High-Performance Coach Could Help Your Social Anxiety
- How to Cope with Anticipation Anxiety