Capturing Real Smiles from Children | Insights from a Long Island Family & Newborn Photographer
As a Family | Children's Photographer and mom, I've been photographing kids for many years. It doesn't take an expert to know, how awful the classic, fake "say cheese" smile can be. We've all seen it. As parents, we're all guilty of it. Just take a look a some of your children's school portraits and I'm sure you'll find a few cringe-worthy, awkward fake smiles. Last week a client called me a miracle worker, because we managed to capture all three of her kids, under the age of 6, with big happy smiles; real smiles! While I appreciate the compliment, there's no miracles being performed. Let's discuss a few tricks of the trade for getting photos of the little ones with authentic 'no cheese' smiles.
1. "Bubble Magic":
Who doesn't love bubbles? I carry a small bubble machine to most sessions involving young children.. There's something about those bubbles that can turn even the shyest of toddlers into enthusiastic bubble-poppers. Plus, it makes for some seriously cute candid shots!
$10 investment ~ Smile priceless
The timeless game of peekaboo never goes out of style. Pop out from behind tree or grab a colorful cloth or blanket and play peekaboo behind it. You'll be amazed at the grins and giggles you can capture as they try to "find" you and you have you try to find them.
3. "Silly Sounds":
Channel your inner zookeeper and start making animal noises. Roar like a lion, quack like a duck. If that fails, bodily function noises are always a hit between dads and the kiddos. Works like a charm.
4. "Tickle Time":
Tickles are like the magic wand of photography. When kids start to get fidgety, a gentle tickle can work wonders. Mom and dad love it too. Soon the whole family is unaware, I'm clicking away.
5. "Dance Party":
Fire up Spotify or YouTube. Put on their favorite song and have a dance-off right there on location. You'll not only get energetic and joyful shots but also create memorable moments for both the kids and their parents.
6. "Snack Break":
A well-timed snack can be a lifesaver. Bring along some small, non-messy treats like mini crackers or grapes. Just be prepared for kids to turn into snack models, showing off their best munching poses.
7. "Keep Calm':
Everyone wants their kids looking at the camera, smiling in family photos. But these moments can't be forced. When mom, dad and the photographer are stressed, the little ones pick up on that energy. Often, clients will arrive already tense because they feel their children need to 'perform' or the kids are acting up in the car. Dad is grouchy, Mom is nervous; is it any wonder the little ones are bashful or uncooperative? That's when we take a nature walk, talk about the ducks, gather acorns. Defuse and regroup. Deep breath mom and dad. This is what makes hiring a professional photographer as invaluable as the authentic smiles we'll capture.