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How To Get Your Kids To Smile For Family Portraits

When parents come to us for family photos, they want to capture the bright, beautiful smiles of joyful kids.

But as parents, you’d also be aware it’s practically impossible to get kids – especially little tots – to smile on command.

Distractions, boredom and just a general fed-up-ness can lead to a bunch of scowling, glary-eyed images.

And as much as we think those expressions are totally adorable, we get that those aren’t the images you want to display in their living rooms.

Thanks to quite a few years of experience, we’ve got a few techniques up our sleeve to get those natural, sweet smiles. Feel free to use some of these techniques when you’re taking shots of your kids at home or at family gatherings!

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Don’t Force The Smile

Remember at primary school when you had your school photos done. All the kids sat stiffly, side-by-side then a photographer in a turtleneck would yell out ‘Okay, everyone say cheese!’ The resulting photo was row-upon-row of forced, toothy grins with zero expression (oh, and of course there was always one kid looking down at his feet).

The best smiles come when kids are just doing kid things. But often you don’t have a camera pulled out at those moments. So how do you get natural kid smiles at the exact moment you’re ready with the shutter? Well that leads us to the next point.

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Get Kids to Talk About Themselves

Kids love talking about themselves. And as they talk, they’ll usually forget about what they’re being made to do.

In our family portrait sessions, we’ll ask kids all sorts of questions to capture the expressions that come out as they’re thinking about them.

Silly questions get giggles and cheeky grins: “Does Daddy wear My Little Pony undies?”

Serious questions get thoughtful looks: “How long would it take to walk to the moon?” or “What was Mummy like when she was 5 years old?”

And questions about a tot’s favourite things get natural, cherubic smiles: “Why do you like Dora the Explorer so much?”

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Don’t Stress About Getting the Perfect Expressions

Sometimes you’ll want to take photos of your little one and they just won’t cooperate. No matter what tricks you pull out, the only face your child will pull is a grumpy pout.

Sure, it’s not the smile you want and you may not want to give nan and pop a copy of that print. But we think those faces are just as adorable – grumpy faces, sad faces, shy faces are what makes kids, kids after all.

In years to come you’ll pull out that photo and remember that was the face your little darling used to make when she was being stubborn.

And those photos can turn out to be your favourites because they show the real, chaotic version of family life.

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