Children Photos from a Personal Perspective
As a mother of four, I know just how easy it is to get a smile out of a child. They just need to look at my camera and automatically I get a “smile” full of teeth and squinty eyes – something that is cute and innocent, but not exactly what we are looking for. As an experienced child photographer, I deal with that “smile” practically on a daily basis. It can be a bit frustrating at times, especially as a mother. Anyway, let’s admit – you’re paying for pictures that catch a real smile and not a fake one.
Of course it’s not their fault… what would you do if someone told YOU to smile? Try that – smile. Feel fake? Probably! The only way to deal with a fake smile is to make the child smile naturally.
5 tips to help get that natural smile on your child’s face
Below are my 5 tips for replacing the fake smile with a real one.
Act like a clown. I always warn parents that I can act a little crazy during a session. I just love taking any known child song and change the words to make it sound silly. This almost always makes them laugh – works like a charm. Kids love it when we fool around with them and I often do it again and so “Oh! I’m so confused, let me try it again” – and this is where I get the winning look.
Don’t tell them to smile. It’s instinctive for us as parents and photographers to yell out “smile!” but then we get that fake look. Sometimes I look at them and make a child’s voice which gives me that magical look of wanting to “eat them up!.”
Ask them not to smile. Sound weird? Not really. As soon as I ask them not to smile, they see it as a game and in the effort of trying so hard not to smile – the end up with the biggest smile on their face. “Ok, I need you not to smile. Try hard no matter what” and then I make funny faces while they try so hard not to laugh until it comes out big and with a roll of laughter.
Make the session fun. In these sessions I am very active – I run, jump, and get kids going – anything to make sure they are having fun. I don’t ask them to “sit on the rock and look sideways” – it’s unnatural and boring – especially for them. Kids like to be active and playful and therefore we need to play by their rules. As far as I am concerned it means turning everything into a game so that they have fun and smile.
To see it is to believe it. Kids also want to see what you are doing. I often show kids the photos throughout the session so that they can see the difference between their real and fake smile.
Finally, remember that your kids will remember this day as an experience that they will enjoy. It’s often that I get phone calls from parents following a session telling me how much their kids won’t stop talking about the fun experience they had and how much they want to come back and do it again :-)