Tips and Tricks Beyond “Say Cheese”

Are you looking for ways to get your kids to cooperate while you strive for the perfect picture of them? We have some great ideas beyond bribery to help you get amazing, natural smiles every time.

Never Say Cheese

Yep, you read that right. Say “Cheese” right now in front of a mirror, emphasis on the “eeeeee” part. Look at the strained muscles in your neck and the wide stretched smile. It’s not natural at all. As parents we want to remember our kids’ natural smiles so we have to do what we can to simply make them happy while they are getting their picture taken. Tell them to say “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” They won’t be able to repeat you and will smile at the thought of it. Have a gaggle of boys? Try gross words like “Boogers!” or funny sayings like “Pepperoni and Penguin Pizza!”. We are going for laughs, and then the exact moment after the laugh you will almost always get a natural smile while your child is fondly thinking about how crazy their mother is.

Do you love that blurry background you see in professional photos? The effect is achieved by “Opening” the  Aperture on you camera. The lower the number, the more open your aperture which will result in more background blur or “Bokeh.”

L.O.L.

Laugh out loud with them. If you can’t get them to laugh at your silly antics and funny phrases simply tell them to laugh with you. Say “Lets open our mouths really big and laugh as big and loud as we can.” You know how laughter is contagious? Get some cute shots of your kids laughing then wait again for the perfect smile once they stop laughing. If you have a shy child who doesn’t like to be loud try to say silly things to get them to laugh on their own. Pretend a bird pooped on you or fake a big sneeze into your photographers hair. Sing a well known song and change some words. “Old McDonald had a Dinosaur…EE I EE I O.”

Timing

Keep photo sessions short and simple. Having a long photo session will feel like a chore to your kids. Don’t stress about it yourself either. Kids know when mom is stressed and it will affect their mood as well. Think about what time of day is best for your kids. Do they still take naps? When are they happiest?

Outside lighting is optimal during the first and last hour of sunlight. This is often referred to as the “golden hour.”

Posing

Are you trying to recreate an adorable pose you saw somewhere else? Pose for them. If you’re not the one taking picture, stand behind the camera and pose the exact way you want them to pose. Play Simon Says while you’re doing it. For example: “Simon says, lift your chin…Simon says lean forward…Simon says eat a worm.” Hey, we are going for laughs, remember!

Not sure how to get started posing? Try a simple stance with your child facing forward, feet shoulder width apart, hands in pockets. Have them bend toward you at the waist slightly and smile. This is flattering for all ages and genders.

Look for Spider Man

A good trick is telling kids that their favorite cartoon character lives in the camera lens. Ask them if they can see Spider Man. Tell them to look without moving. Bonus points if your child says “YES! I can see him!”

Lifestyle shooting

When all else fails, plan a Lifestyle Session. Plan a fun activity for your kids to do and simply shoot away. It could be anything from simply playing in the yard to a more planned activity like mixing up some homemade cookies. If you decide to go this route be sure and take lots of pictures. It’s easy to get those awkward faces that happen when your talking and someone snaps a picture mid-sentence. If you have lots to choose from you’re sure to find some great shots.

The Ultimate Serious Shot

Alright, so you’ve mastered the smiling shots and want a dramatic picture of your child looking lost in their own thoughts. Who can blame you, kids look great even with their serious face on. The best trick to nailing a serious shot of your kids is to simply wait. Lay them on the ground and lay in front of them with your camera ready. Don’t tell them what to do. Just. Keep. Waiting. When curiosity runs out, eventually, they will stare at you trying to figure out what you are waiting for. That’s when you click the shutter. March directly to your computer, upload to Mpix and order a huge canvas of that beautiful face so you can always remember it.

Check out our article Easy DIY Baby Photo Setup for more ideas to inspire your photography.

Photo Credit: Little Miss Eclectic Photography and Focus on Memories Photography

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Sara Taylor

Sara is a work-from-home mom with a photography business and a passion for capturing real life. She spends her time chauffeuring, teaching, encouraging and cherishing her three elementary aged children. Aside from her family and photography, Sara loves knitting, baking, and Instagram. You can find her on Facebook .

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