How To Be Confident In Front Of The Camera
Many of the lovely, go-getter women that I photograph say that would like to feel more confident in front of the camera. If that resonates with you, then you are in for a treat today!
Alicia Mason has experience both in front of and behind the camera and she graced us with her wisdom on how to be confident in front of the camera. Check out the video or peep the transcript below if that’s more your scene (we won’t judge!).
Praise: Hello! It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon and my favorite Sundays are spent with people I love like Alicia Mason! We invited Alicia here because she is a multi-talented actress, model, writer, director, movement maker. She is just doing everything. Truly doing everything. I invited her over because I would say that 95% of the people I photograph, when I asked them “How did it go?” they tell me “I wish I was more confident in front of the camera.”
So as a professional in front of the camera, I want to just pick your brain of wisdom of how to move forward with something like that but I don’t think I intro’d you to your fullest, so…
Alicia: Sure! I think you did a pretty good job. I’m Alicia Mason. I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, originally. I went to high school in San Francisco. I went to college at San Jose State and then came back here so that’s just a little bit about me.
I worked behind the scenes in the fashion industry for a good amount of time and that I think is where I learned the most about how to make the camera your friend and not see it as a bad person.
I learned from my colleagues who had been doing it a lot longer than I have. Especially working with young girls who were in development (15 or 16 years-old) to be models and teaching them to own who they were because it’s a weird age. It’s a weird age at that time. We told them:
So that when you’re on set with that photographer, even when you’re on a runway, that you are owning those moments and that will be ten times easier as you go on. I learned that and then when I left and took some time away and then decided to get back into acting and it’s been a really long time, that was really beneficial for me to have that experience and to see the camera as my friend.
It’s hard in this world of HD and 5k, whatever that means. Everything seems so perfect and you can see everything. Sometimes when a camera comes in front of us, especially a very shiny, bright, new camera (that’s not our iPhone or Samsung or something), we’re like “OMG. What is this what is it gonna say about me? What is it gonna show about me? What are these things it’s gonna take off of me to show people who I really am and I’m scared of?”
What I tell myself, which I think may help other people, is to see the camera as your friend. See it as your mom or your dad. Or your brother. Your boyfriend. Or somebody who you really love so that it feels a little less intimidating. So it’s that person. It’s not this big bad thing.
But nothing is perfect. You walk around in the world and nothing is perfect. You see people on the street and you’re attracted to people and all these different things and none of those people are things are perfect, you realize. That is okay. We are not perfect.
There are a million things when looking in the mirror you can go “Oh my God…” but that is who I am! And then that camera? I can see it as capturing those imperfections in a positive way. Seeing exactly who I am and not seeing the camera as this thing that’s going to strip me down and make me scared.
Praise: Seeing a camera as your friend. I think that’s huge because it’s allowing yourself to be seen by someone who accepts all that you are. It’s literally looking at that lens and it being like how my dad knows me and sees me and loves me and accepts me. That’s how I’m going to approach this, kind of open-handed.
Another thing you said too is that we are all imperfect. She is pretty close to perfect, but she has her imperfections. The professionals that I work with, we all have that little thing that we’re not confident about. Just to validate, that is everyone.
Alicia: Everyone! I was putting on my makeup this morning and I was like, “Oh my God, those frown lines… Oh my God, etc.” How much do I let that shape and take over instead of saying “Okay, I’m gonna be in front of a camera and I’m going to just be present and own it and own who I am knowing that.”
I also realize that we’re worried about whether the pictures you take with a photographer or the video you do with somebody, you’re more worried and about how everybody else is going to perceive that final image or that final video.
However, we don’t have control in our lives over much. We want to! Look, I’m a control freak at it’s best.
Praise: You’re in good company.
Alicia: As time has gone on, I’ve realized whether it be through life events, through family, or things, that there’s only so much I have control over. I have to let go of the things that I really have no control over. Like how someone’s gonna see a picture of me or a video of me and think “Oh, well now that girl is dumb. What is she talking about?” That’s okay!
Praise: Totally. I think that’s a huge thing. We are giving practical tips of what to do when you’re in find the camera, but honestly, it’s a lot of inner work.
It’s learning how to be present but it’s also the inner work of being kind to yourself.
Alicia: Yeah, it’s being very kind to yourself. I have a big community of women. I find that we, as women, are very hard on ourselves. We say sorry a lot. I find myself saying that a lot in circumstances that make no sense. Like “Why’d I just say sorry?” I was telling my therapist “I say sorry for things that make no sense.” I’ve caught myself doing that.
To put an example of it, let’s say, being an actor or a model, sometimes you’re on castings with people and you’re like “Oh my God. That girl looks amazing! What’s wrong with me? Oh my gosh…” instead of saying and thinking (which I’m trying to do more of is) “Wow. That girl is beautiful and she’s great. Wow! I just actually had a conversation with her and she’s bomb.
That’s positive. We both can succeed. Sure, one of us may not get the job. Neither of his may not get the job. But I just met someone really cool and if she does get the job, then yes! It’s another woman doing something that she really loves and I think that’s empowering.
Or whether you’re just on the street! The amount of times that we like stare other people on the street, we’re usually thinking positive things. But you’ve also been on the receiving end of having someone stare at you like “Ooooh, my gosh! What’s wrong with me? Is something wrong? Instead of it being (I know most of times when I’m staring) it’s “Wow! Oh my God, I love her makeup it’s so amazing.” Or “That coat is fire, I need it!”
You know? All these positive things and instead of keeping that internal what if we said those things to those people? To other women instead of just staring? Which I think in our society is seen as weird. I don’t think it needs to be because human interaction is so needed in a time when sometimes we’re so glued to something that doesn’t give us that.
So how can I say to another woman “Oh my gosh, I really love your dress! Where’d you get it?” Or “Your makeup this amazing.” Or even something like I’ve had some really bad days and I’ve been walking around the city and sometimes I’ll spot someone’s inner joy and I’ll say “You’re really happy and I just want to say that’s amazing.”
When you empower other women, you’re obviously giving something to someone else, which is great for them, but if you really present what will you be getting back? If you’re just truly letting that joy out, you’ll be receiving that joy too of like that smile in that person’s face of being like “Oh, thank you so much!” You see that little, inner girl and you’re getting back joy that is also infectious, that then brightens my day.
I think building that sisterhood between us all is so needed.
Praise: Mm-hmm! I will say as a photographer, some of the most beautiful people that I like to photograph are not the full-time models but it’s those people who carry that inner joy and have done the inner work. People who are fully present. I really like that too!
Alicia: Yeah! Because you’re getting a full human being who I think probably as a photographer means you can feel when someone’s having a hard time and that’s totally fine.
But if you can go into it saying “I’m just gonna have this moment. I’m gonna have this moment in time that is fun and interesting and I’m going to do the work (which is hard) because I’m trying to do myself.” It is a lot easier to say than to do.
Negativity is an easy thing, okay? Just like my sweatpants I put on at night when I come home. It’s easy and it feels great, girl and I love it! But positivity is the harder thing. And that is the biker shorts that I don’t want to put on, on a hot day and go for a run. Girl, it’s a little hard. But, can I do the work because I know how much better I will feel afterwards?
I know how much better I’ll feel doing the work to be positive. To go into that photo session or to go into that video session and say “You know what? I’m just gonna have a good time with Praise and I’m gonna see the camera as a really good friend and I’m gonna enjoy every single moment of this and not worry about what the end product will be.”
I’m just gonna have a good time so that when I’m an 85-year-old grandma, I’m gonna remember how great this day was with my grandkids. That is so rewarding if we do the work which is hard. Like I said, positivity is hard. It’s a challenge for me every day, but how can I do that?
Praise: Totally. Seeing the camera as a friend, doing the inner work of being your own friend and then building people up. Whether that’s in the streets like “Oh girl, you’re rockin’ that’ skirt!” But even on the Instagram posts! Building people up, I think, is a good inner work for ourselves and for our community.
Alicia: Right! Peeping social media and seeing these beautiful things and these beautiful posts and sometimes commenting “Love that!” instead of just clicking the like. And sometimes you like something and go “Oh, I wonder if I should say something. I’m not sure…” Sometimes just go with that gut impulse! 99% the time is not wrong so go with that gut impulse to say “Hey! I love what you posted was really empowering.” Or “Love that dress!” Or whatever that may be. Don’t feel afraid to show that love that way too.
Praise: Mm-hmm! And I will tell you: that goodness will come out and show up all on camera.
I love it! Thank you so much for sharing that with us! She collaborated on a really wonderful project here at the studio with an incredible filmmaker named Ngoc which you can check out here!
Alicia: It’s a fun video. I think for me and Ngoc it was showcasing women, especially from a young age, to an older age of being a mom. For me, talking about the camera, Ngoc is a beautiful cinematographer and a beautiful woman who brought that warmth to it so it’s fun yeah.
Praise: So good! Well thank you!
Hey go-getter! Want another feel-good, fempreneur resource?
Check out ComePlum’s chat with Dani Parker “3 Ways To Create Space For Yourself.” You won’t be disappointed!
Want more specific content on how to pose in front of the camera + take killer photos of yourself + pair them with a message that matters? My e-book How To Be Your Own Instagram Husband is for pre-sale and launching in just a few weeks!