My Guide to Photo Shoot Smile Success.

Children can be amazingly unpredictable. As you’ll probably know from experience, their moods can alter at the drop of a hat, laughing one moment and shy the next. So don’t be surprised if, on the day of your photo shoot, your happy-go-lucky child suddenly becomes withdrawn when they are standing in front of the camera. I’ve photographed hundreds of children over the years and some of the best photographs I’ve taken are when the child is in a more reflective mood, it’s not a bad thing. However, it’s still nice to get a really great smiling shot and the last thing you want is a forced smile, it just doesn’t look right. Luckily over the years, I have developed lots of tips and tricks which will hopefully avoid the dreaded forced smile from happening.

blond haired boy with bright blue eyes smiling and laughing

Eight tips for the biggest photo shoot smiles

  1. Prior to the session, make a list of all the things that your child thinks are funny and send it to me. This way, I will be prepared with some icebreakers to get the session started.
  2. Give me a list of their favorite TV shows, music they listen to, best friends’ names, favourite book, etc. This will give me something to chat to them about and will help them forget they’re in front of the camera.
  3. Avoid saying ‘cheese’ to them during the shoot, think up other funny phrases you know will get them giggling.
  4. If you’re having a studio session then bring your child’s favourite songs on your phone, we can play these songs or have a sing-a-long during the session.
  5. Bring their favourite toys to stimulate their senses and some snacks. Normally children get hungry quickly and as you know when they’re hungry they get cranky.
  6. Make sure you plan the session around your child’s nap time, this way we have a happy, energised session.
  7. Consider a location photo shoot, somewhere that your child can explore and play. Toddlers especially prefer outdoor sessions as they are growing and becoming more independent, they have a natural curiosity and appetite to explore.   Location sessions lower their inhibitions due to the relaxed environment, whereas some children and toddlers find the studio overwhelming with all the strange equipment.
  8. Plan a reward for after the session, like a visit to a park, and remind them of the trip to keep them on their best behaviour.

From my experience, I have learned that children have their own ideas and very much know their own minds.  The photo shoot is not about getting them to do things they absolutely do not want to do.  It’s my job to talk to them, find out what they like doing, and work out a way to capture them when they are most relaxed and happy. Teamwork always results in the best images!