Nov 26, 2009

Getting the Smiles: Child Headshots and a Couple Family Portraits

Getting a natural-looking smile in a photo isn't always the easiest task. Just ask any parent! For this shoot, my client was specifically interested in getting nice portraits of each of the kids and wasn't worried about getting a family shot (even though we snagged a couple) or other group shots. That made my job a little less complicated, so we worked on the portraits first.

I have a couple tricks when I do portraits of kids. First of all, I like to let them help out as "photographer assistants" during the shoot: holding an umbrella or monopod, helping position people in a group shot, etc. When it's their turn to have their photo taken, I let the kids pick a spot where they want their picture taken. Then, I try to interact with them in an easy-going, no-pressue manner. For younger kids, I talk to them about school and favorite hobbies. For older kids, explaining how the camera functions really helps. I often show kids the back of the camera as I am taking pictures, especially if I need them to smile or look a certain way (or in the case of the little sister here--get back into the family shot!) There is nothing like immediate feedback to help a child understand what they are supposed to do.

I often have to educate my clients how to smile for the camera in a way that doesn't look fake. The easiest way I have found is to create real situations to get a real smile. For adults, conversation seems to work the best. We naturally smile as we talk, so I shoot and gab, two of my favorite things! For kids, saying words like "spaghetti" or "macaroni" or even "okay" work really well. Those words have an "ee" sound at the end and end in a smile anyway. If the child is having a good time, smiles aren't too hard to get! Finally, have someone else behind the camera (these kids' mom was fabulous!) talking to the kid and reminding them of their friends at school, favorite people, and other smiley thoughts. Enjoy!

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