How to Get Fun Facial Expressions
I have to be honest – when I do a family or kids’ photo session, I am completely worn out by the end of it. I am running, playing, dancing, snapping away. And because of all of that, I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by the variety of fun faces in my final galleries – and the parents love it, too!
1. Don’t be afraid to make a fool out of yourself
I remember in one of my first “real” family sessions, I was dancing around, twirling this sweet pigtailed girl until I was dizzy, when I caught the Dad looking at me like I was absolutely bonkers. I became so self-conscious and was doubting myself so much that I definitely mellowed out pretty seriously for the rest of the session. But my favorite photos from the session? The twirls and laughter of that little girl during our dance party. And in her review of the session, the mom said that her favorite thing was how I was “willing to get down on her daughter’s level and just make it fun.” So now I’m not afraid to dance. Or jump. Or hop. Or even run.
2. A good game of Hide-and-Seek wins every time
With very few exceptions, a game of Hide-and-Seek with my littlest subjects will usually get the best smiles and make them so comfortable with me that our session is not only fun, but easy, too. I don’t let them go too far, and I usually let them do the hiding. They’ll inevitably peek at me from behind a tree or a wall (I set rules about no going on the ground or past a certain point) and those little sneaky smiles are some of the best ones. Have your camera ready and say their name when you see them and watch the magic happen.
3. Get Mom and Dad involved, too
I love it when the parents aren’t afraid to act a little silly. It means a lot to their kids and makes for awesome candid moments. Piggyback rides with some little hops and quick jogs are great. You can give a little direction, too, like having them stop at a certain point in the trail and looking up at their child or even have the child lean down to mom’s face. For little ones, a little (cautious) throw in the air or twirl in their parents’ arms make for such fun smiles. And funny faces from them behind you works like a gem, too.
4. Don’t forget a serious side sometimes
I love, love, love smiles. But some of my favorite childrens’ images are the ones where a child is studying the lines on a tree or the petals on a flower. I’ll ask to see it, camera poised and ready to go, and can capture some great close-up shots with stunning eyes and pensive faces. We sometimes play “Explorer” in my sessions – I ask them to find me a yellow flower that I’ve spotted up the way or to stand by their favorite tree for the next photo. They get to take a lead in the session and we create an adventure.
Have you seen the first part of this series?
Photographing Kids Part 1: How to get Fun Facial Expressions
Photographing Kids Part 2: Top 10 MUST HAVE poses for Kids
Photographing Kids Part 3: 4 Tips for Parents before a Kids Photo Shoot