Top 3 tips to capture natural smiles of your kids in photos

Top 3 tips to capture natural smiles of your kids in photos

My Top 3 tips: Capture natural smiles of your kids in photos

tips for kid photos

One comment I get so often from people when they look at photos of my children is “You captured their expression so well!”. So I thought maybe this would be a helpful post to write out.  Hopefully this will help you capture expressions better if that’s what you’re wanting. 🙂  So here you have it…my 3 tips on how to capture natural smiles of your kids in photos!


First off, let me say that I think it is very important to capture their expressions that they give you throughout their lives. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about children is that they are constantly changing and turning into the person they’re meant to be. (To me this means not focusing on “say cheese” with every single photo…some of my favorites are ones where my kids are not smiling.)  We need to be intentional about documenting their lives and making sure we remember these little moments that go by fast.  If your child’s personality is to purposefully NOT smile at the camera, then capture that.  Chances are, soon they’ll smile again in photos (*sigh*).

1. Pay attention to their expressions

My little guy used to scrunch his nose when he smiled, and I knew that this probably wouldn’t last forever.  So I put him in front of our fridge, spelled out his name with the the magnetic letters we already had up there, and asked him to smile and here was the result:

3 tips to capture natural photos of your kids - www.andreaschrag.comA photo that captures his personality at this age.

He no longer does this cute scrunched nose smile and his sweet cheeks aren’t chubby anymore, so this is a photo I can’t go back and get later. Because I noticed and recognized an expression that I wanted to remember, I now have this sweet memory forever. 🙂

If you are lucky enough to have a white background like this, then awesome.  But this would be a cute photo that shows his personality even without the fridge and letters spelling out his name.  So rock what you have, because that’s what is real for you.  🙂

2. Wait for it

I think this is so important also. When my kids are out playing, I will enjoy watching them but I also sit there for a little bit with the camera up to my eye.  I make sure I have my settings already set where I want them, and the focus locked on their face. Then when the moment happens I’m ready.

This method is effective, but you need to be careful that you’re not sitting there the whole time looking at them through your viewfinder. I’ll usually try to get one or two that I like, then I set the camera aside (still available if something happens that I want to capture) and enjoy watching them play.  Because the whole purpose of all this is to remember these moments.  Not to remember what the back of our camera looks like…amiright?

3 tips for natural smiles


3 tips for natural smiles

3. Switch things up

capture natural smiles of your kids in photosOne sure fire trick I’ve found that should help you capture natural smiles of your kids in photos is to tell them to not smile. I’m not even kidding.  Something about telling them “no – I mean it – don’t smile…don’t you do it!” makes them giggle like nothing else I’ve found. I don’t know if that means my kids like to disobey me, but whatever the reason, it works every time. 🙂 This gets the best, most relaxed and natural smiles out of my kids.  Smiles from them laughing – not saying cheese – are the best kind in my book.

Just be sure to have the focus locked on their face and all your settings right so you don’t have to tell them to “not smile” again…it can tend to lose it effectiveness if used too much in one setting.  😉

I will usually do some test shots to make sure my setting are correct.  I can fix quite a few things in Photoshop, but it’s much easier and more effective to start with a well exposed, sharp photo.

Well, there you have it – my top 3 ways to capture natural smiles of your kids in photos. I hope these have been helpful!  Do you have a tip that works good for you?  Please do share in the comments so we can all try them out!

Here’s to better photos of your kids,

I'm a photographer mom who loves teaching other moms how to boss their big girl camera around!

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