Simple Photography Tip: Let Them Be Little

Photo Tips

Stand there. Say cheese. No, don’t smile that big. Wait, smile bigger. Don’t goof around. Just look at the camera. OK, now don’t move. Why aren’t you looking at the camera? Now, look right here and smile.

Have you ever said any of those phrases while trying to take a photo of your child? Here’s my first goal for you: let them be little. Yes, we all want a nice family photo where everyone is looking at the camera. But, it’s so important to let them be wild, let them be adventurous, let them be little. Those playful moments will bring our true joy, genuine smiles, and amazing laughter.

When it comes to photographing kiddos, I’m all about letting them be little. Trying to take a photo can be stressful enough. So, have fun with it. Make up games like finding flowers, have them stand on a stick, throw leaves into the air, have a tickle fest, sing songs … do whatever you can to capture your kiddo being a kiddo.

Here’s my second goal for you: Don’t encourage kiddos to “say cheese.” Let’s do an experiment. Say the word “cheese” while looking in the mirror. How does your smile look? Does it look natural? Or, does it look a bit forced?

Now, yell out the word “candy” (because what kiddo doesn’t love to yell out “candy”) or let out a huge fake laugh like you’re being tickled. Does your smile look more natural? I bet it does! Why? Because you’re having fun yelling and laughing. Also, you might feel a bit silly which will get you laughing and giving a genuine smile.

When kids behave “just right” during a photo session, the photos look a bit too posed. Plus, kiddos catch onto the forced vibe and start to turn grumpy quickly. So, have fun with it and let them be little.


As a mom of two, I get it. Family photo sessions can be stressful … but they don’t have to be. Playing with sticks, finding flowers, creating games, capturing sweet hugs, encouraging tickle fests, and bringing out the giggles that you’ll want to remember forever are just some of my favorite things about lifestyle photo sessions. Getting playful and going with the flow will help you end up with photos that you’ll love.

Take for example a recent family photo session I had. Here’s my client’s review:

“We had the pleasure of taking family photos with Jen yesterday. We were so tired of having pictures taken that we weren’t proud of. She was truly God’s answer to our frustrations. Yesterday was bitterly cold and my daughter was not cooperating. I managed to break my shoe and my son vomited on his clothes. The grace, patience , and genuine kindness Jen showed my family was like nothing I’d ever seen before. If I spoke about her genuine acts of kindness yesterday, I would be writing all day. God truly gave me more than I deserved in a photographer. Even with all the tribulations we experience during the shoot, I am in love with our photos. How she was able to find beauty in such chaos, continues to baffle me. My husband very adamantly stated that Jen will be our photographer moving forward. Thank you once again for going above and beyond your call of duty to make us happy.”

It’s all about finding the beauty in the chaos. That’s where all of the good stuff lies.




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