How to Get Natural Smiles in Pictures from kids

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Are you just a mom trying to get natural smiles in pictures from your kids? Or a photographer tired of the fake smiles? I feel your pain! I’ve been there, too, and I’m delighted to share my best photo tips for getting those natural smiles while taking pictures.

How to Get Natural Smiles in Pictures from kids

Don’t say CHEESE! Have you heard that before? It’s been roaming around the photography community for years. It’s dreaded. It pretty much never works, so erase the “say cheese” phrase from your vocabulary. Forever.

I’ve had 15+ years of experience as a family portrait photographer, and even MORE experience trying to get my own kids to cooperate with a natural smile in pictures. It’s not easy! Seems like it should be though, right? They are HAPPY children, why won’t they just. smile. for. the. dang. camera.  Am I right?

1. Sing Songs. Babies love it, toddlers groove to it, teens are so annoyed by it, they laugh. With toddlers, if you sing the WRONG words to a familiar song such as “Old McDonald” they think it’s pretty funny as they try to correct you. Their favorite songs make them happy, and will produce happy smiles.

2. Story Telling. Get them talking about something they love. This is obviously not for the babies, but if you ask kids about their favorite toy, character, sport, etc. they will tell a story with a smile on your face with pauses in-between an a smile. Just make sure you keep reminding them to look at your “circle” or the end of the camera lens. Ask questions like what did they get for their birthday that they loved, who has a crush on who at school, what did you like about a family vacation?

3. Potty Talk. Ok, this isn’t for everyone. It’s hard for me to do sometimes, but kids and teens think it is HILARIOUS! I often ask 5-7 age if “Daddy wears diapers” or talking about any bodily function. Especially those young boys.

For the rest of the tips and free printable, leave your email below and I’ll send it right to your INBOX. I like to keep this cheat sheet in my camera bag handy when I need reminders for helping my kids get those natural smiles.

My 7 favorite tricks for photographing kids with happy, natural smiles. Forget the cheese and the forced grins, these tips will bring true smiles. The last one, is my FAVORITE for teen boys, too, I’ve tried it out on my own over and over!

Tips for natural smiles

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happy smiles cheat sheet


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