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how to get your children to smile during family photos | Boulder family photographer

Outdoor, sunny, Boulder Colorado family photography session with photographer Jenni Maroney.
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we all know that smile. the toothy, goofy, “cheeeeeeeeeeese” smile. it’s the one that comes out every time we reach for our camera. what you don’t want is that smile from your children during your upcoming holiday photo session. just follow these easy tips to get your children to smile during family photos.
How to get your children to smile during family photos:

  1. Don’t ask them to smile. In fact, don’t even talk about smiling ahead of time. If you have young children, tell them a day or two before your session that you’re going to a park with a friend and she’s bringing her camera. It’s going to be really fun and you’re really excited. When our kids know that we’re excited about something, generally they’re more likely to get onboard. Overly preparing them for how they should (or shouldn’t) smile or behave doesn’t always work. In fact, from my 16 years of experience, it often makes it worse. They come into the session with pressure knowing they’re supposed to behave in a certain way, versus coming in and just having fun. No expectations, just fun.
  2. Don’t have any preconceived notions of how the session will go (especially with toddlers). It is the job of an experienced photographer to set the children (and parents) at ease and have a good time. Sessions with little ones should be fun, enjoyable, and natural. Forcing kids to sit still for too long usually creates forced expressions. A good photographer will have you all moving around, being playful, and interacting as a family. Don’t put any pressure on your kids or yourself and they’re more likely to have a good time.
  3. Have fun. This one is for you, mom and dad. If your children see that you’re having fun, they’re bound to jump in and have fun too. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in front of the camera. Be goofy. Dance and sing with your children as you normally would at home. The more comfortable you are in front of the camera, the more your children will be too. This is when their true personalities will shine and your photographer will be capturing it all.
  4. Roll with the punches. Photographers have seen it all. If it hasn’t happened with my own child, it has happened during a session. Trust me, nothing your child does during our session will surprise me. Over the last 16 years, I’ve seen it all. I’m not here to judge your parenting or your discipling skills. I’m here to have fun with you and document this stage in your lives.
  5. Whatever you do, don’t ask them to say cheese. Seriously. Just don’t. I have words for whomever came up with the brilliant idea to teach every child age 1-10 to “say cheeeeeeeeese”. The only thing this does is produce super fake, super forced, painful smiles that parents sigh at when having photos taken of their gorgeous, beautiful-natural-smile, children. Don’t ask your kids to say cheese during your family photos. Please and thank you. 🙂

As you can see below, this family followed all of these steps perfectly! They showed up beautifully dressed, ready to have fun, and rolled with the punches. How cute are they!?
Outdoor, sunny, Boulder Colorado family photography session with photographer Jenni Maroney. Outdoor, sunny, Boulder Colorado family photography session with photographer Jenni Maroney.

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