When I was in middle school, I didn’t have many friends. It’s not because I didn’t want to have any friends – I was just painfully shy. I could barely look people in the eye, let alone hold a conversation with them, no matter what age of whoever I was “holding” a conversation with.
Because I have natural tendencies towards introversion, I used to limit myself – a LOT. I told myself I couldn’t be a leader, and that I could never EVER do things where the attention was solely on me. I specifically remember telling myself that there was no way I could EVER own a business, because who would want to work with an introvert? People LOVE extroverts and their big personalities – why would someone choose to work with me if they could work with them?
But that’s the funny thing about life. Sometimes what we perceive as a weakness can actually be a strength. Towards the end of my high school years, I started challenging myself to simply just love on people – THAT is something I could do, regardless of the personality type I had. I realized that my introverted-ness couldn’t be an excuse for not having any friends, or not getting where I wanted to be in life – so I started simply finding ways to love on and listen to the people around me.
In wedding photography, there’s a bit of a bent towards people who are extroverted. Introverts see them as having the upperhand (or so I’ve seen with some of my introverted friendtographers), but I wanted to share three tips for introverts who might be struggling with being an introverted wedding photograph. I am by no means an expert in this, but if what I share can help someone else, I’m all for it. So here are my top tips:
1. Ask a LOT of questions – good ones.
Upon first meeting me, some people mistake me for an extrovert. Sometimes, my introverted tendencies are disguised by my love for asking questions. It’s SO easy to keep a conversation going, even if small talk isn’t your “thing,” by asking questions. But the catch is – they have to be genuine, and they have to require more than“yes” or “no” response. And at a wedding, there are so many friends and family members of the couple coming together that there is always a plethora of good questions to ask!
2. Be an excellent listener.
When you ask a question, make sure to listen to the response. This may sound quite obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to listen to the answer to the question they just asked, simply because they’re trying to think of the next question or how they’re going to respond. Asking a follow up question or clarifying a point from what the other person said is a great way to keep the conversation going and make sure you’re listening!
3. Don’t hold back on dishing out compliments – but make sure they’re genuine.
This is one of my favorite strategies for making people feel comfortable when I’m taking their photo. Compliment the CRAP out of them! I love having the opportunity to encourage people, and, believe it or not, being in front of the camera can sometimes make even the most confident folks clam up a little bit. By genuinely complimenting whoever’s in front of your camera, you will automatically boost their self-esteem. But again – make sure your compliments are genuine, because we all know what it’s like to receive a compliment that isn’t really genuine! Keep it real by pointing out something specific, like: “I love the pattern on your dress!” or “your hair color looks perfect against this backdrop!” or “the way you just naturally tucked your hair behind your ear was perfect! Would you mind doing that again?” Anything that can build the confidence of the person in front of your camera is a great way to go!
4. Take the time you need to recharge.
Introverts tend to recharge their batteries (or refill their bucket) by having alone time, so make sure you get the alone time you need after a wedding or portrait session! This might mean unwinding by watching a movie, Netflix series, reading a book, or taking a nap. I personally love to come home and edit a few sneak peeks while I watch a show (usually the Goldbergs or How I Met Your Mother!).
If you’re an introvert chasing a dream, limiting yourself like I was – I challenge you to try putting each of these three tips into action to see if they make a difference for you! And as always, share any tips you might have in the comments below – you never know who needs to know what you have to say!