As a parent, I love, love, when my children feel happy in their pictures.
Smiles are often most greatly appreciated the bigger they are. But when I’m photographing children, I like to clap and appreciate all those other fantastic smiles.
The happiness that lives between a direct gaze to a huge toothy grin.
Over the last couple of years especially, I have talked to kids that are holding back their smiles. Sometimes, kids don’t even realize they are holding it in. Kids will sometimes be talking with me and when I hold up my camera they will suddenly freeze and put on a smile. A little encouragement to not think about me or a joke and they easily are more themselves.
Sometimes, it's nerves that keep kids from smiling. When I meet a family for the first time, I always introduce myself to everyone. With kids, I may get down to their level so they can see me. After a more personal hello nerves generally disappear and those real grins light up.
Lots of times, with tweens and teens thoughts and feelings about teeth, braces, and general appearance are the reason they hold those smiles in. Whatever the reason, when I see them holding back from laughing I let them know, I get it and talk about what I am trying to photograph and how we can get those ideal images.
That may mean that I let them have a good laugh and wait to photograph them again when they are ready and smiling however makes them feel best.. That may feel like I missed “it” in that moment to onlooking adults but my goals are bigger than that moment.
I want every person, including kids, tweens, and teenagers, to feel good about our time together. That’s how I want to photograph kids feeling happy in their pictures.