There’s no doubt about it, in my 18 years as a professional photographer of people, both weddings and portraits, I’ve found that the more carefree you are about having your picture taken (and therefore the outcome), the better the pictures turn out. Nothing is more evident in a portrait of someone than tension. You feel it through the printed photograph. But thankfully the converse is true also. When a subject is genuinely relaxed and happy and in a good place, exuding confidence and positivity, you can feel that too. The subjects true state of mind is something that’s difficult to suppress or disguise. How best to get to that positive, carefree state of mind? Well, I guess the first thing is choose a photographer you have confidence in. And one that you trust on every level. And that takes research, conversations, lots of face time and a healthy dose of instinct. Trust is crucial. How can you relax in front of the camera lens if you don’t have confidence and trust in the person behind it? The second thing is far more difficult because it’s far more personal, in that you have to decide within your own mind to let go. And giving yourself permission to potentially fall, that takes courage. I do believe it’s something that gets easier through practice and repetition – the most awkward and self conscious people who have come in front of my camera are the ones who are so out of practice, that they’ve not had their photograph by another person taken in literally years! Breaking through that psychological barrier and acknowledging the beauty of your self image regardless of how you look, regardless of how you think others will perceive you, is one of the bravest thing you can do. It also happens to be the key to the most beautiful pictures of yourself you’ve ever seen.