How To Get Those Natural Smiling Photos
Make ‘Em Smile!
You’ve seen them… screaming, unhappy children being forced to sit on Santa Claus’ or the Easter Bunny’s lap, the parents convinced that even the look of unrelenting horror on their kids’ faces will make for a fun holiday memory. Luckily, kids don’t often react like that when we’re taking pictures of them elsewhere, when there’s not a big, scary creature in a fuzzy suit looming over them. That’s why getting kids, and adults, to smile in pictures is easier than you may think!
Many people automatically freeze into a “smile” pose when they see a camera come out, making the picture look artificial and uncomfortable. Kids may get that wide, gum-showing grimace that looks like someone just may be poking them in the back with a stick. Believe it or not, the best pictures don’t happen when you say, “Smile!”
The easiest way to get a loose, natural smile on your subject is to make them comfortable. This can include telling them a joke you know they’ll appreciate or even having them do something goofy before you take the shot. Some photographers like to have the entire crowd say something silly or take an “angry” picture first. When they drop the pose, they’re more likely to start laughing. Give them a few seconds to simmer down a tiny bit, and shoot the picture while they still have those signs of happiness in their face, cheeks, and eyes.
The toughest nut to crack can be an angry child who doesn’t want to have his or her picture taken. I have danced. That’s right, I have shaken my booty in front of kids to make them laugh, and it’s worked every time. Sometimes, photographers have no shame if it means they’re going to get a great shot.
When all else fails, engage your subject in a conversation that will bring them to their happy place. If your subject is a teenager, ask them if they saw the latest viral video. If it’s an adult, talk to them about where they’re going on vacation last year. For older subjects, ask about grandchildren and what they’re doing during retirement. Remember, people are always more comfortable having a conversation than being told to yell, “Cheese!”
Once you get a really great shot, everyone is smiling, their eyes are open, there are no bunny ears being given in the background, consider doing something really unique with the picture. Whether it’s your own family or friends, or a client you’re shooting for, consider getting it BumbleJaxed! These little touches will make your pictures stand out from the rest.
Everyone say, “Fromage!”