I am sure many of you are facing the dilemma of how to make kids smile without it looking like it is being forced and fake. I remember the days when my mum was taking photographs of me and my sisters and we always had to stand straight and look into the camera whilst my mum said “cheese”. Being kids, we always wanted to play up and often would not smile the way our mum wanted us to. Years pass by and kids are still the same, I know from experience of both trying to take pictures of my girls and also from meeting lots of little ones during my family lifestyle sessions.
So how to make them smile? How to get a genuine-looking smile which shows your little one that lovely facial expression and twinkle in their eye? I have listed below 5 ideas which I hope will help you when you are next taking a photo of your kids.
Make sure they are relaxed
Easy to say right? But this is very important. Kids can feel something is not right from a mile and will always look to you for reassurance about whether it’s ok to do something or whether someone is new around them and they start to get shy. So if you do want to take a picture just let them know it’s ok to play and be themselves and watch emotions evolve. Be an observer and you will start noticing those little things, how they behave, what makes them smile and what they are interested in. It’s quite amazing just to sit and watch. Once you have them relaxed you can start taking photos and you should be able to get those nice organic smiles during play.
Sing to them
Young babies get attracted to soothing sounds and find them calming and relaxing. The music itself can be helpful to develop a healthy mind and also it encourages speech and sound recognition. I don’t know about your kids but my girls love to sing along (well one of them as my youngest just bobs with her body to the music as she can’t speak yet!). Music makes you feel happy and kids’ nursery songs are great to get interactive with kids. So make sure you know a few of them and have your camera ready to snap away when your children get excited and happy hearing their favorite tunes.
Who doesn’t like tickles?! For this, you would need a sibling or your other half to tickle your babies. You can even start with a little chase so you can snap away that anticipation and excitement on your little one’s face. Then you can capture their laughter and I guarantee it will be real. I often use this during my family lifestyle photography sessions and we do have lots of fun.
Play a game
Children love to play, this is pretty much all that they do so any involvement they get during a game is a great opportunity for them to smile and be themselves. “Simon says” is a great game that encourages thinking and you can get very silly with different commands. You could also ask your kids to come up with new ideas and see them thinking and laughing. They love to be involved and feel that their ideas matter as well.
These are good, tested ideas which I use during my family lifestyle photography shoots. I also have few up my sleeves when I photograph lifestyle newborn photography and I use them on older siblings and parents as well. We can learn a lot from our children and smiling is one of the most important features which can lift anyone’s spirit and makes us happy.
To encourage their fun side to come out the easiest way is for you to be silly and make them laugh. You can, for example, start making funny faces and ask them to copy you. Another good example is to fake laugh and then ask them to stop laughing. I guarantee you they won’t stop laughing.