Alright, Wanderers, you all probably know how to pose for a photo. But as a veteran of a fair few meet-and-greets, let me assure you of one thing: people find it very hard to focus when their absolute favourite celebrity of all time ever is standing in front of them, smiling and talking to them. In fact, many people are concentrating so hard on remembering to breathe that by the time they manage to ask for a photo op, all knowledge of how to take a photo flies from their heads altogether.
You don’t want to embarrass the person you’re a fan of – or yourself – in such an exciting moment, so here’s FW Tips’ quick checklist of things to remember. Don’t worry if they all fly out of your head, too, at the crucial moment, but at least we can all say we’ve tried.
・ Say please before you say cheese! We’ve mentioned this before in other articles (this one might be handy in this situation too) but it’s really important – don’t just leap in and try to get close enough that your friend can take a photo with both you and your favourite star in it. It’s usually OK to take photos of the general scene at a meet-and-greet, but if it’s a chance meeting or if you want to take a proper photo of them, you need to ask permission, and accept it if they say no. This has the bonus effect that they will be smiling and looking at the camera!
・ Don’t get cross if your request is denied. If they say no to a photo, they probably have their reasons. This could be anything from them feeling like death warmed up and trying to avoid photographic evidence of their mild illness to a publicist standing behind you, shaking their head and tapping their watch. It’s nothing personal – sometimes a photo opportunity just isn’t on the cards, especially if they’re in the middle of doing their shopping! If it seems like it would take no time for them to snap a photo with you, remember that if there are other fans around and one person takes a photo with them, everybody will want one. Sometimes it’s just not something they can do that day. So respect it and don’t complain!
・ Get someone else to take the photo. If they’re with someone, that person might take a photo for you, and if there are other people around a stranger will usually be happy to stop and snap a quick picture of you and your new acquaintance. The best option, of course, is if you’re with someone and your friend can take the photo. Either way, you really don’t want to be messing about taking awkward selfies at arm’s length.
・ Respect personal space. If they’ve said yes to a photo, great! But that doesn’t mean you can jump on them and take a photo of them giving you a piggyback. Move to stand near them, of course, but let them lead. Some people will automatically put an arm around you to take a photo, some will stand beside you, and I’ve seen quick photos taken at signings where the person you’re a fan of will just lean across a desk. All of these are going to be really special photos to you, so don’t worry too much.
・ Try not to be weird. If you’re paying for a photo op at a convention or something and people are messing about with bizarre poses, feel free to ask for something a bit unusual, but if you’re taking a regular, standing photo, behave as you would if you were taking a serious photo for your school prospectus or company brochure. If they put an arm around you, you can pretty safely put an arm around them back, but leave it there. If you put your hand on their shoulder and then start feeling awkward, bear with it – the photo will look fine and it will be way less weird for them than feeling your hand moving around their back trying to find an appropriate place to rest.
・ Wait ’til they’re ready. This applies both to “I’d love to take a photo, just let me finish signing these last few books” and to the actual taking of the photo itself. Get whoever’s holding the camera to check that both you and the person you’re posing with are ready before you take the picture. You want to make sure you both look your best, after all!
・ Follow instructions and honour requests. If you’re asked to move away from a fire exit you hadn’t noticed, for example, while you’re trying to take your photo, please move. And if the more famous person in the picture asks if they can take a look at it on the camera, show them. They’re probably concerned that they might have blinked, and they want the photo to be good for both your sakes.
・ If you’re uncomfortable at any time, say so. If you’ve got personal space issues that make you uneasy about having an arm around you, for example, let the person you’re talking to know before you get close enough for it to become a problem. If you start feeling unsettled, for whatever reason, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell the person and move away or whatever it takes to feel safe again. It might be that a crowd has formed since you asked to take a photo and you now feel self-conscious taking one. Maybe a hand has inadvertently been put where it shouldn’t be. At any rate, you don’t have to do anything or stay anywhere that makes you uncomfortable, so don’t be afraid to get yourself out of a situation that makes you uneasy. You don’t want that to be the lasting memory you have of meeting that person, after all.
・ Take one photo, as quickly as possible. Unless the person you’re with says “Oh, I blinked, take it again,” it’s best to stick to one photo and take it relatively fast. You’re both busy people, after all.
・ Thank them. They’ve taken the time to indulge you, it’s only polite to say ‘thank you’.
・ Treasure that photo for years to come! That’s not a tip, as such. It’s more a prediction. You’ve got something precious, there. Look after it.
Eleanor Musgrove (has an astonishing collection of photos of herself with slightly-freaked-out-looking celebrities)