How to Take a Photo Shoot

Well friends, it has been four months since our first photo shoot, and I bet some of you are wondering “How do they do it? How are they that beautiful?” Well, I thought I would clue you in on the magic — as I am not now an expert.

The first thing to remember is it is okay to be nervous. It’s awkward having people take pictures of you while you’re posing beside bushes, trees, and your overly photogenic best friend. I don’t think anyone ever truly feels natural doing a photo shoot. I know I certainly have a hard time doing it! Every photo shoot we do, I go through the same cycle:

First, I’m like, “Please don’t take my picture.”

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Then I look like an awkward toddler, “Where do my hands go?!?!”

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Or I try looking wistful, but I’m really thinking, “I wish I were in my sweats.”View More:

…but mostly there’s just a lot of this.

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It is very difficult to look natural when you have a camera in your face. So, you have to relax. Breathe. Try not to make too much of it.

It’s also okay to be excited. You feel beautiful. You have good clothes on. Your make up is 120% more done than it usually is.  It’s a very fun thing. Be excited, just not too excited…

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Tips for mellowing out and looking natural.

  1. Do a “shake down” — jump up and down and shake your limbs so you feel nice and loose.
  2. Contort your face into all sorts of funny expressions so that when you make a genuine, smiling “pretty pose,” it feels more natural (just make sure the funny face is not the moment your photographer captures)Processed with VSCO with lv03 preset
  3. Take deep breaths with your stomach and think of something you truly love–something that makes you feel radiant.
  4. Have a mantra that you chant in your head, “The camera adds ten pounds. How many cameras are on you?!” “I am strong. I am beautiful. I got this!”
  5. Be your “best friend self.” Think about the person you are most yourself with, who thinks you are beautiful and wonderful. How do act when you’re around them? Try to recreate that feeling. Luckily my person is usually taking the pictures with me, so she makes me feel awesome, but she also makes me feel silly, so this happens…View More:
  6. Bottom line: be yourself and know that you are BEAUTIFUL, just the way you are–because we say so, and you say so, and no one else matters.

Now that you are relaxed, it is important that you remain focused. The camera picks up on everything, even the tiniest of movements.

This is when I got distracted because I thought they were going to throw us off the golf course…

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And this is when there was a puppy…

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Now that you are focused, it’s about figuring out what poses work best for you. Ashley looks amazing when she puts both hands on her sides and looks up, or when she glances over her shoulder. I can pull neither of those off. 

I prefer to really contemplate the flora around me…View More:

Or hit on the nearest tree.

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Above is my attempt at a “come hither” look. Which brings us to “How to look sexy.”

How to look sexy: don’t. Trying to look sexy will simply result in, well…

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You are sexy, you don’t need to try to be. Just let the camera pick up your natural magic, don’t try to force it.  Ashley taught me the best trick for taking alluring, serious pictures. All you have to do is “Look like you have a really good secret.” It has worked out nicely for me.

I went from looking like, “I’m going to murder your family”…

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To “I’m a sexy and alluring beast”…

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For this photo Ashley stood behind Danielle and said, “Remember your secret, Rach!” and my eyes said, “Your boyfriend bought you an engagement ring.” That secret lasted me two photo shoots before he proposed to her. I need a new secret now.

Lastly, the most important thing about taking a good photo shoot is to have an EXCELLENT photographer. We are endlessly lucky to get to work with Danielle.

This is Danielle! She's our photographer!

She is so fun and brilliant. She makes us feel at ease and we have full confidence in her. She makes us feel beautiful and her pictures are stunning so we turn out looking like super models even if I am making this face:

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She is a master craftsman.

AND, if you are interested in having your own Embraceable photo shoot. Danielle’s offering a special deal to all Embraceable readers. Simply contact her at:


Tell her that you are a part of The Embraceable Project, and she’ll set you up with a one hour photo shoot with one wardrobe in one location for $150. She is located in San Diego, CA, but there are TONS of beautiful and varied locations there for your shoot so it can look like you’re anywhere in the world: beach, mountain, field, strip mall, etc…

Choosing the right photographer makes all the difference. Being able to see gorgeous photos of myself like these….

…has transformed how I see myself. Yes, I still have some quirky photos, but I am proud of those too. Seeing these images has changed my self-image.  If you don’t think you’re ready for a photo shoot yet, that’s fine, but there is truly something magical about being captured with beautiful lighting. Maybe it’ll take a while for you get the hang of it, but here’s my “really good secret”–you’re well worth the effort.

Weight:  205lbs How do you feel?: Amazing. I started running on the elliptical at my YMCA and it has a special screen setting that lets you run through different terrains. I set mine to “New Zealand hikes” and… I WAS RUNNING THROUGH MIDDLE-EARTH! It was like I was Aragorn in search of Merry and Pippin (which is what I imagine when I’m running anyway). I put on the Lord or the Rings Soundtrack and it was the best workout ever! I did 3 miles the first day and 5.5 the second–it was a blast!  Small Victory: I was discouraged on Friday because I was up a pound for ABSOLUTELY no reason, and I was very angry. All day I felt like saying “screw this, why am I bothering?” but I stayed in my points. I stayed in my points even when I went to a gala at my favorite theatre in the world, South Coast Repertory (hi guys, love you!), and they had GIANT WOKS filled with Buffalo chicken wings! I didn’t eat a single one. I stayed in my points, despite the fact that I wanted to eat the entirety of the chicken wing  wok the size of a Rose Parade float.  Biggest Disappointment: I am losing more slowly that I’d hoped. Usually I can drop ten pounds like nothing, but this time I’ve been praying to hit five. That’s likely because I lost those ten pounds on a crash diet…but still. I’m trying to remember that the longer it takes to get off, the longer it stays off (or so they tell me).  Thing I appreciated about my body this week: I have healthy lungs that let me pant my way through Middle-Earth Why I am #embraceablenow: I am a nerd who likes to turn anything into a moment to celebrate the great creativity of alternative universes…Lá ilyë i ranyar vanwë nar.

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