How to get real smiles when photographing your kids

How to get natural smiles from your children

I am a mom to a two year old and I completely understand how difficult it is to get some genuine smiles from your toddler when you are trying to take their photos.  As a photographer, it’s my job to try to capture those genuine smiles from my clients’ children, so I want to share some of my secrets with you.  These ideas have been tried, tested and true time and time again with my own child, so they should work for you when photographing your own children.

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1) Let them do their own thing and have fun doing it.  I LOVE taking shots of my daughter posing for the camera, but I also LOVE to take photos of her doing her own thing (ie. candid shots).  I find that if you let your child be busy doing their own thing that is interesting to them, they will be more likely to have a happy looking little face.

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2)  Make your own silly faces just before you snap the shot.  This works really well for babies and up until about a year and a half.  If they are older than this, refer to step 3.

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I made a really silly face just before this shot was taken.  She found it pretty knee-slapping funny.

3) Recruit another person to stand beside your camera and get the child to laugh.  In all honestly, most of the time the person will either have to make silly faces, jump around like an idiot or say funny things, but in the end you should be able to at least get some nice shots with genuine smiles.  This method works over and over again when I recruit my husband or stepson to make my daughter laugh.

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My stepson was making silly faces beside me.

4)  Don’t try to do a photo shoot when your child is hungry or tired because it will be an epic fail shoot.  Do try when your child is energetic and happy.

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5)  Take photos of your child / children with a friend, grandparent, aunt, uncle, parent or anyone else that they enjoy being with.  The interaction that will happen between them will most likely end up in smiles.

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My daughter with my step-son. She loves her big brother.

6)  Squeaky toys will work for babies up to about one year.  However, you cannot use this method all of the time and it only works some of the time, depending on the baby.

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7)  I must mention one technical hindrance that can also keep you from getting those smiley moments of your children–the quality of your camera.  Every single point and shoot camera that I have ever owned or used has shutter lag from the time you press the button until the shutter actually snaps the shot.  In that split second lapse of fleeting time, the smile can vanish as quickly as it appeared.  If you are able to invest in an SLR (single lens reflex) camera, do it.  There are some decent amateur DSLR camera out there.  Check out Henry’s and Vistek as their employees will be able to give you a lot of info about them.

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I hope that these tips will be able to help you take better photos of your kids.  Good luck.  May the force be with you.

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