When a photographer tells you that they only shoot candid moments and that they don’t pose their clients - they aren’t always being entirely honest! Achieving an interesting composition in a photo takes choreography and capturing smiles sometimes takes a bit of encouragement.
Like having your photo taken? No me neither. But the process can be made far less awkward when the person taking the pictures takes charge of the session.
A photographer with confidence and a clear vision makes a family feel like they are in safe hands. Ask a family to stand in a line and say "cheese" for the camera and you are asking for stiff poses and awkward smiles. But encourage some real interactions and you will see genuine smiles and capture more meaningful photos.
Here are my top 15 tips that will hopefully mean you never have to “say cheese” to your clients or family again.
Ask them something that you know they will like talking about
For example “What do you prefer; chocolate cake or bogey cake?!”.
“What is your partners most disgusting habit?!” Etc etc
Ask everyone to give you a big fake laugh
The point of this one is not to get a photo of the fake laugh but of the laugh that comes after being asked to do something a bit silly.
Ask the family to squeeze each other tight
This is great for getting images of closeness but it usually makes everyone smile at the same time.
Tell a joke
This works well with older kids who are feeling a bit too cool to have their picture taken with mum and dad. Get one of the parents to tell a joke and the sheer embarrassment alone is enough to get everyone laughing.
Pretty self-explanatory this one but it can be a great go-to when dealing with babies and toddlers.
Tell them they are smiling too much!
Ask them to smile but keep getting them to make the smile bigger. Then tell them that they are smiling too much. Never fails to get a giggle.
Look into each other's eyes
Asking people who know each other well to look into each other's eyes can make for some interesting shots. Either they will find the whole thing hilarious and fall about laughing or if they are taking it very seriously you can get some very intense looks.
Raspberry on the cheek
Often a toddler or child will reach their boredom limit much earlier in a session than older kids. A raspberry on the cheek from mum or dad can keep things fun and buy you a bit more time.
Count your sisters/brother fingers
It can be strange when little children get a new baby in the family. Giving them things to do makes them feel included and important. Get the older child to sit or stand next to the new baby and ask them to count their fingers.
Whispering a joke
Ask people to whisper a joke to the person next to them. This one is also great for mum and dad or any couple shots as it looks very cute and intimate.
Kiss on the cheek
This never fails to look adorable whoever is doing it.
Get shots as people are walking along.
Walking is an easy way to get people to loosen up, and can make for some great shots. To give them a bit of direction ask them to hold hands or swing the littlest kid in the middle.
This one is great for indoor family sessions particularly when the whole family is posing on a bed or sofa.
Throwing kids in the air
I don’t recommend you try this if the kids are teenagers but throwing little ones in the air makes a great action shot.
Piggyback and shoulder rides
These can work well if you are struggling to get toddlers moving while taking photos on a walk. Pretending that you are about to drop your child usually gets a few laughs from everyone too!