Let’s have some fun. Look in the mirror and on the count of three, say “cheese.” Ready? One … two … three … “cheeeeese.” Does your smile look natural or forced? I’m guessing it looks a big forced. I know that for years upon years, the go to is to encourage people to say the “cheese” word. Unfortunately, that word does not result in the most natural of smiles. So, that’s why I’m urging you to stop encouraging others to say that word when taking their photo. Instead, feel free to get creative.
During family photo sessions, I like to have fun with it. Yes, there are always parents who are determined to get a smile so they ask their kids to say “cheese” while I’m clicking away. When I hear that word, I immediately think of something else for the kids to say or do in order to avoid that word. I always urge people to say anything other than “cheese” because that word forces mouths into a shape that just isn’t completely natural or flattering. Instead, I have kiddos yell out their favorite food to get them excited. And, my number one go to strategy? When smile are feeling a bit on the stiff or forced side, I say:
“Alright, on the count of three, let out the biggest fake laugh ever.” And then I demonstrate it for them.
Now, let’s have some fun. Look in the mirror and on the count of three, let out the biggest fake laugh ever. Ready? One … two … three … [let out biggest fake laugh ever]. Did you do it? What did your smile look like this time? I bet it looked more natural. This is by far my favorite trick during a photo session … it works with adults, seniors, kiddos … everyone!
Instead of having people say ‘cheese’ and give you a fake smile, have people give you the biggest fake laugh ever. Kiddos love this. They will let out a huge laugh, feel silly, and flash you that genuine smile that you love.
There are many other tricks related to getting people to let out a natural smile (tickling is another favorite of mine), but I think that the “biggest fake laugh ever” is by far the best trick in my book. One of the reasons I love it is because it’s incredibly versatile and everyone can do it. If you’re doing a seated photo, people can laugh. If you’re doing a walking photo, people can laugh.
What’s even better is when you’re taking photos of an adult with a child. When you give the cue to “let out the biggest fake laugh ever” and then demonstrate it, the child immediately gets excited and then laughs at the person behind the camera. Once the adult in the photo joins in on the fun, then the child really starts laughing hard which makes the adult in the photo laugh hard. I love photographing those special moments that are candid and fun.
And then, in the thick of the laughter, I tell the subjects to look at me and that’s when I capture genuine smiles that are cherished forever. So, let’s get in on this together. I love cheese, but I’m all about avoiding it when taking photos. Join me in avoiding the cheese and embracing the laughter. Laughter truly is the best medicine, even in photography.