People are constantly complimenting me for the expressions in my photographs. Kids having fun. Kids laughing. Kids looking comfortable. No cheese face. So… how do I do it?
Today I’m sharing five tips for capturing authentic smiles from children. I’m opening up my ‘bag of tricks,’ if you will.
tips for capturing authentic smiles in your photos
1) Ask for a ‘fake laugh.’ This trick works for all ages. In fact, I used it for wedding group photos back when I was a wedding photographer. It typically starts off awkwardly (I join in with them so they feel more comfortable), but within seconds it always transitions into real laughter. Get your camera ready, start the fake laugh, then wait a few seconds to snap the photo while they’re really laughing.
2) Tell your subject NOT to smile. Asking children for a serious face is a surefire way to guarantee a smile. They’ll try to give you a straight face, but when they do, respond by giggling & saying “I see a smile! I told you NO smiling! What are you doing? NO SMILING!!!” Suddenly they can’t help but smile.
3) Tickle them. I’m pretty sure tickles are a part of EVERY photo session with Miss Freddy (ok, maybe not senior sessions… usually). If you don’t have the luxury of using mom & dad (like the photo below), you can ask siblings to tickle each other or crop in really close for a headshot, while you’re tickling their tummy.
4) Let them RUN. Movement loosens everyone up. We are programmed at an early age to stand stiffly and smile for a camera, but I prefer to encourage my subjects to ‘shake their hips’ or ‘show me some dance moves’ or simply let them run around. The authentic smiles always emerge through motion.
5) My secret weapon: the chicken. If you’ve been in front of my camera, chances are you’ve already met my crazy chicken. He makes the most absurd noise. Kids usually love him and laugh at his crazy antics. The chicken makes entertaining noises, tickles their tummies & plays peekaboo behind me… all of which usually elicit genuine smiles.
So there you have it! Hopefully these tips will help you capture more natural expressions from your children. Promise me you’ll still hire me for your family photos though… ok?