As a photographer, I am constantly asked about how to capture an authentic smile, especially for kids.
Kids are awkward. As soon as they see a camera, they forget how to act. Some clam up and won't smile at all. Sometimes you get the dreaded "cheese" that makes their face look like they smell something smelly while showing their teeth. And some will stick out their tongue. I've photographed all of these types of kids and I have overcome them all too, so here are some of my tips for capturing an authentic smile.
1. Use Props
This is a great way to loosen kids up and get them comfortable. It doesn't have to be anything big, maybe a necklace or a favorite stuffed toy. I did a series of photos with my daughter on a blank wall using various props and we ended up using them for a Father's Day project. Once we started, she was really into it and kept bringing me things to photograph her with.
2. Tell a Joke (or Two)
The silliest of jokes will get the kids to giggle (even the older ones). So, grab a joke book and practice if you want an authentic smile. I even ask my little clients if they know any good jokes (I snap the picture as soon as they give me the punch line and I laugh) and as soon as they see me laughing, they laugh and smile too.
3. Play Simon Says
This one is great because they get to pick a pose they want, then you get to pick a pose. I do this with my daughter a lot. We make it a game to see who can be the silliest, except most of my picks aren't silly at all. Bonus: Sometimes the poses they pick end up being the best images!
Hope these tips help, now go out and capture an authentic smile!
All images are my own. See more at www.thepreservationistphoto.com