8 Tips for getting natural smiles - jamieleeportraits.com

8 Tips for getting natural pictures

Family sessions are my favorite photo shoots! As fun as these sessions are, sometimes they can turn stressful in a second. With these 8 tips you can hopefully have an enjoying stress free photoshoot! 

1. Spend a few minutes playing before the shoot

It's always nice to take a few mins and get to know the children a bit before the shoot. This way its easier for them to connect with you and you'll figure out what makes them smile. Sometimes it's as easy as a silly face or sound that helps them relax. They're often times intimidated by the camera so you can also let them check the camera out a bit before the shoot. 

2. Make it a game

Children love games. They smile more when they feel they want to smile. If they're being told to smile they usually have a silly smile or a smile that doesn't quite look natural. If you can find a way to make it a game they'll be naturally smiling from ear to ear. You can use phrases like "smile...now don't smile...now smile!" They usually start laughing from having to do the sudden changes and you'll get a natural smile. You can also try doing a game that involves doing each others faces to mix it up a bit. 

3. Get them up and moving

Unfortunately no matter what age you are family photos can become boring if you're sitting in the same position for an extended period of time. Photo sessions are supposed to be fun and an exciting experience for the whole family. After a few posed shots its always a good idea to get up and move around a bit. Let the kids have a "break" and just play. Little do they know you'll still be snapping photos of them having fun. In my experience these candid photos are some of my favorite photos. You get to see their natural faces they make that are hard to capture in a posed photo. 

4. Children mimic their siblings

Children often mimic their siblings. If their siblings are acting shy and quiet in front of the camera, chances are they will  follow their lead. This can work both ways in regards to if its the older or younger siblings that are shy around the camera. If the older sibling is having a hard time warming up to the camera but their younger brother or sister is having a blast they usually step out of their comfort zone in fear that they are missing out.

5. A special helper or assistant

Sometimes it's helpful to have a "special helper" or "Assistant" during a shoot that can help you pose and let everyone know when to say cheese! Kids love having roles that make them feel like they're in charge. By having them be your assistant they feel like they're in charge and they control when its time to smile. By allowing them to be in charge, you'll typically get a nice smile from them. 

6. Ask the children where they would like to take photos

It's always nice when someone values your opinion. Children are the same way! If you're having trouble getting the children to smile, its nice to ask them their opinion to see what they're thinking. Even if you don't use the photos, they'll still feel excited that they were able to choose. You can take a few photos where they would like and then return to the original place after they're more comfortable with the spot. 

7. Special treats

It's easy to want to offer the children a special treat for doing such a good job during the session. However, be careful of what you offer! Anything chocolate or colorful will usually show in the pictures. If you're giving the children treats during the session, make sure you stay clear of anything that could get stuck in their teeth or make their mouth and lips an unflattering color.

8. Ask the parents to smile as often as they can

You just never know when a good photo opportunity can happen so it's crucial the parents are always camera ready! Children are unpredictable and their expressions change so fast. Of course this doesn't mean the parents have to plaster a fake smile from ear to ear the whole session. As long as they have a nice pleasant expression they'll usually lead to nice candid photos of everyone looking happy and relaxed. 

I hope this post helped! Family Sessions are supposed to be fun for the whole family! Remember to have fun during these shoots and the pictures will turn out great! If you need some posing inspiration make sure to check out The Design Aglow Posing Guide for Family Portrait Photography. This book has a lot of helpful tips and posing ideas for all ages!

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