You say “Keep smiling!”, take a camera and see creepy masked faces through a photo lens. People try to force a smile but it doesn’t achieve good results. If you take a picture of your good friend you can say ‘Hey buddy! What’s up? ‘ and pinch him/her as a joke. But if you’re working with some unfamiliar person then you should think of some alternative.
If you are a professional photographer, you probably deal with these not natural smiles on a daily basis. People feel themselves confused by the atmosphere and a photo camera, many of them don’t like to be photographed at all. Some people just don’t know what to do in front of the camera, they are not sure if they look good. So as a skilled and creative photographer you should work something out with unnatural smiles. Nobody cares about your efforts, your work will be estimated based on final photos and customer’s impressions. So here is several advices on how to get people to smile while photographing posed portraits.
1. Don’t say ‘Cheese!’
When you say ‘cheese’ your lips stretch into a shadow of smile, but it doesn’t look naturally and all you see in shots are stretched faces and insincere smiles. ‘Cheese’ is not something funny, it’s just an ordinary word. Maybe it’s better to say ‘Cherry’ or ‘Banana’ or something that the person you’re taking photos of like. Such unexpected offer will relax your model a little bit and give you a chance to catch natural smiles.
Just try to make the person forget about the camera and act as in real life. Tell some story, create the proper mood or atmosphere. Imagine that the person in front of you is made of a plasticine and you can shape whatever you want. What would you do with such a model? Try to play this game yourself and your clients will probably play up to you.
2. Make the photo session crazy and fun
It’s especially good when you photograph children or groups of young people. They are always ready for fun and will more likely keep up your crazy ideas. It’s always easy to make them do something silly and then capture precious natural smiles.
If humor is one of your strengths, then you probably have no problems with natural smiles during a photo session. But there are many calm people who can’t run, jump, laugh and take photos at the same time. Does it mean that they are bad photographers? Surely no. They can joke and make faces or something like that. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, the more important thing is HOW you do it.
3. Keep smiling yourself
Your excitement and natural smiles are the best things you can do to make people feel comfortable and get them to smile. Just relax and have fun. People very well understand your hidden mood. And they will hardly feel OK in front of the nervous and gloomy person with a big camera. By the way, do you know that your big and super-duper camera looks like a gun? When you are almost happy and friendly it’s OK, but when you’re too serious perhaps it’s a little bit threateningly. Think about it :) .
Capturing natural smiles is not so easy as it seems. So we hope these photographers tips will help you to get people to smile for a camera.