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How to Smile Naturally

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How to smile naturally

I want you to think back to the last time you had family photos taken? I know in this day and age not everyone likes having a camera shoved in their face, so it maybe its been a while. Now, why haven’t you gotten family photos taken recently? Maybe you feel insecure, or you don’t know how to pose or what to do with your hands. It’s probably one of the reasons you don’t step in front of the camera very often. But these are all things that a seasoned photographer can help you with. The key to looking great in photos is to relax and try to be as natural as possible. Now you’re probably thinking, “how do I act normal and relax when I’m so nervous?”. Well, let me tell you a few of my favorite tricks for getting people to smile naturally and not be so nervous.

How To Smile Naturally

Small Talk

Don’t be afraid to talk to me or each other. I promise I’m not taking unflattering pictures of you while your talking. If I do start taking pictures, I could be testing the light, or really like the way your sitting. Don’t just immediately clam up and smile. Most times the way you naturally sit is quite flattering with a few minor tweaks. If we can talk and you start feeling comfortable your body will naturally relax and you’ll start to feel more comfortable.

Think Happy Thoughts

It might sound silly but think of something happy. Don’t think of how annoying your kids were on the way over, or that your husband or wife complained the whole morning about this shoot. Think about your favorite place, be it the beach or the mountains. Discuss these places together. Reminisce about your favorite family vacation or that funny thing your baby did last week. Thinking of things that make you happy will help you to be happy, which means you’ll naturally smile.

Outdoor Head Shot of woman wearing long sleeve shirt

Let Yourself Laugh

Sometimes I tell corny jokes to try to crack a smile. I might ask if you have any family secrets or try my hand at a knock knock joke. I will not profess to be a comedian, but let yourself laugh. Even if you’re laughing at how silly I am, you’ll let your guard down which will allow you to be genuine and smile naturally.

Dad wearing blue shirt with two daughters with brick wall background

Interact with Your Family

I love unposed and natural shots. There is a time and a place for the pretty smiles everyone looking directly at the camera, but not every photo needs to be that way. Let your kids have fun. Run around with them. Play tickle monster or hide and seek. It will be fun for all of you and we can take breathers to get those photos where everyone is looking and smiling. If the photo shoot is fun for everyone it won’t be as hard to get those natural smiles!

Mom with son on bed reading cat in the hat book

Don’t Focus on the Camera

I can’t tell you how many photoshoots I’ve been on where as soon as I take out my camera people pose smile and look directly at it. My best advice is just to pretend like the camera isn’t there. I’ll let you know if and when I need you to look at the camera. But focusing on the camera will just keep you aware of its presence and keep your anxiety up. So just forget about it!

Dad and mom smiling and holding baby

These are just some of my favorite ways to get a natural smile in photos. Again, it’s all about relaxing and having fun, that will allow you to get the most natural smiles. You definitely don’t have to do all of these, just one or two might work for you. Test them out the next time your in front of the camera and let me know how it goes.


Thursday 15th of February 2018

This is great! Sometimes my smile just looks so fake. I love these tips! I had a photographer once have my friend and I talk and tell each other stories and he got the best photos of us because soon we forgot about the photos and were so engrossed in our conversation.


Thursday 15th of February 2018

Candid photos are some of my faves! But I always clam up when people take photos of me. Gonna try your tips the next time someone is taking a photo! Thanks!

Barbara Pinon

Tuesday 4th of July 2017

Thank you. I was just on vacation and did not like my "posed" pictures, I will give your thoughts a try! BTW Chis & Erika in the above pic are my niece & nephew!


Tuesday 4th of July 2017

Yes, definitely give them a try and let me know how it goes! And Chris and my husband are cousins! We're all just one big happy family :-)