I've been in business for almost 8 years, and I'd like to teach you how to make sure we get authentic smiles from your kids - without having to bribe them.
First, I'm going to say something that you may or may not agree with: Authentic smiles don't always have to show teeth. Actually, if we want to be real - smiles come from your eyes, not your mouth. You can see it in the two pictures above - the little boy
(1 years old) is highly amused with me; and the girl (about 10) is completely content and quietly confident. The smiles are present, but not as obvious... still, these pictures are showing a different side to their personality. They are real kids, showing their real personalities.
Second, they don't always have to be looking at the camera, for the picture to be a GREAT photo. Especially when siblings involved... when they are naturally interacting with each other - delighting in each other's presence - that can be more valuable than when they are perfectly posed (not looking natural at all).
My repeat clients know something that my new clients don't - so I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When it comes to working with kids, I become a big little kid - with a big personality. I have no shame about making the weirdest noises - I can alter my voice to sound like a 3 year old, sound like an alien spaceship, I can sing out of tune in a southern accent (and have a character to go along with most of the voices), I can meow like a cat... and so much more.
I make up the most random stories - about squirrel ninjas and transformers and faeries... and I don't care if the adults think I'm crazy... because I will capture the most authentic smiles and personalities from your tiny humans. I will do anything to get the real smiles and real personalities, even if it means making a fool of myself.
My sessions start very relaxed; and in the beginning, I let the kids be in charge - I make them my "art director". I tell stories, and play games... and I run a lot. Because when your kids are having fun... it will show up in the pictures.
Unfortunately, in writing this article, I realized that I'm guilty of trying to get my mom and my aunt (mom's sister) to smile on cue - even though they are adults, they don't naturally smile for pictures. And when we (my siblings and I) sternly tell them to "smile! No, smile for real" - it's just as hard for adults to smile genuinely as it is for kids. Instead, tell a funny story, tell a memory, sing a song or say something worth laughing at. In a future blog post, I'll share my top go-to strategies to get kids to smile AND look at me in photos.
So, if you are looking for everyone to be posed just so, with everyone looking in the same direction at the same time - with perfectly crafted smiles that will all happen on cue...in about 30-45 min. I'm sorry, but I'm not your photographer. For the parent that wants to stand behind me and constantly beg their kid(s) to smile a "real smile"... and do so by threatening to take away a promised treat for "behaving". I'm not your photographer. My sessions aren't like that; as you can see, I still get the photos that show off your kids and family - I just do it through play.
At the end of a session, my biggest compliment is from the kids - when I get an impromptu hug from the kids (if they are younger) then I know that I did a great job... More than just the photos, your kids will cherish the experience as much as you cherish the photos. That's the kind of photographer that I am.
I will take the time to make sure your kid(s) feel special and listened to. You won't have to bribe them to behave, nor will you have to ask them to smile... because they'll be having so much fun that we'll get their real smiles and their real personalities. And yes, I'll still get that awesome family photo. It may not be "perfect" but it will represent your family at this stage in your family's life. Meaning, why would we want kids to play a different part than who they really are - the imperfect pictures are how we best remember these fleeting life stages.
Kids are curious, and playful and really a delight - if you allow them space to be themselves. So when I photograph families, it's not something that we squeeze into just 10 minutes - not if you want "real" smiles. I let them be the boss, and be curious, and we go exploring...
This picture below came when the youngest, Luke, heard me clicking the shutter and asked, "what's that sound?" So I clicked the shutter again, and asked, "that sound?" He nodded yes. And I explained that it's the little doors in my camera opening and shutting every time I take a picture. I asked the boys if they'd like to watch the doors open and close? But that it would only do it fast if they were smiling. Although these aren't their best giggly smiles... it is their curiosity smiles... and those are good too.
The last time I photographed this family was when Liam, the oldest, was a newborn... so it was so nice to see the both boys and their personalities!
A girl with a camera, trying to be creative out loud. I keep my clients as friends; and believe in endless possibilities.