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Friday
Aug302013

Getting a natural smile from your tot (Portland, Oregon children’s photographer)

 

Little kids have amazingly goofy smiles they put on whenever a camera comes out. Their picture smile usually involves throwing their heads back, jutting their chins toward the camera, squinting fiercely and lifting their lips way up over their gums to reveal teeth or the gummy holes where teeth should be. It's pretty adorable. It doesn't, however, look much like the happy kid you see playing out in the back yard.

So how do you get your child to give you a natural smile the next time you take his picture? Here's a few tips that have worked for me:

  • Once you bring the camera out, and your little one gives you the “cheese” face, go ahead and take the picture. Then ask him to try it another way. If you start out telling him he is doing it wrong, you are likely to end up with a grumpy guy.
  • Don't say cheese because it triggers them to pull their cheeks back in an unnatural way, and many kids believe that “say cheese” means give the biggest, fakest smile you can. They'll just breath the word out through clenched teeth. Instead, mix it up by saying having them repeat silly words like “pickle sandwich” “green bean casserole” and “rutabaga.” Anything food related is pretty classic and will generally make kids chuckle. (Speaking of food, sometimes offering a treat helps, but other times it's just messy and distracting. I would consider it a last resort. Also, young kids can’t understand delayed satisfaction, so when you offer them a treat if they are good for photos, they often can’t focus on anything but that goodie that’s waiting for them.).
  • Lock eyes with them and smile until they smile back. 
  • Be playful and make the experience special. Kids can pick up on that fun-time energy.
  • Play pretend.  Ask them to show you their angry face, what a shy person looks like and to model their best scared face. In between you are likely to get some great giggles.
  • Tell them not to smile. Reverse psychology is awesome that way.
  • Be patient and take breaks. Put the camera down and talk and play for a while and see if you are able to get them in a great mood so smiles come more easily.
  •  Keep in mind that not every smile has to be a big ol' grin. Some of my favorite pictures are just just natural expressions and soft smiles.

I love spending time with families and taking photos of children. If you are interested in getting fun and natural portraits of your family, drop me a line sometime!

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