Practical advice on how to make kids smile naturally

Let’s say you’re traveling, and you stop at a gorgeous place. You want to snap a quick photo of your kids in front of the scenic view. And you want them to look happy and smiling. Or you’re at a family gathering. The kids look adorable and you need to document the moment.

How do you direct the kids so that they smile beautifully – that is, naturally? Here’s what I recommend.
1. Restrain your urge to say, “Say cheese!” or, “Smile!”
2. Ask the kids nicely to stand where you need them to stand.
3. Give a compliment – “You look beautiful,” or, “I see a beautiful spark in your eyes,” or, “You look so strong.”
4. Ask to show you a tongue, or big eyes, or how high she can jump – anything that will make her do something fun, something she likes. Wait for a second and THEN snap a shot – when she smiles naturally.
5. With a silly voice but pretending to be serious say, “No, no, no smiling.” At first they’ll try to stop the smile, but soon enough usually everyone cracks up. Takes two seconds. The result: a genuine happy full-blown smile or laugh.
6. (If the kid is up to about five years old.) Hold a toy and play it like a puppet. Make it hide and then pop up, or let it say something funny.

What you gain, while spending the extra minute:
• Beautiful, genuine happy expressions
• A fun moment that will energize you both
• A fun memory behind the shot
• Next time your kid will be more cooperative because you made it fun to take a picture.