Just Don't Say Cheese!
Don’t Pose, and Please Don’t Say Cheese!
When we started photographing my daughters, they had developed a habit of saying “Cheeeeese!” with that teethy grin that took a very short time for them to adopt. That definitely wasn’t my fault, because I have never taught them that. As I photographed more families with children, I usually have to tell the parents to just let the kids do their thing…let it be natural…and definitely don’t ask them to say “Cheeeeese!” The results were usually ten times better.
I had the most wonderful experience of sitting down with a Mom to discuss making images of her three amazing kids. Sitting with her actually felt more like catching up with an old friend than talking to a client. We clicked, and we just understood each other. She had already seen my work, so we were pretty excited about getting a date on the calendar. As an added bonus, her husband was a Marine…my kind of people for sure.
When the day finally arrived, everything just seemed to flow. The weather was amazing, the location was great, and everyone was in a great mood. I love it when it happens like that. I said hi to these three beautiful faces sitting in the back of he minivan, and they were all smiles. As they piled out of the minivan, the day started with me tying her son’s shoelaces. The ice was broken and I was in! I had his trust, and the two younger ladies followed big brother's lead. Mom and new hubby appeared nervous at first, but as things progressed, and they progressed quickly, everyone seemed to relax into being themselves. Me? I was just chatting and capturing all the interactions with hardly any directions.
I brought two of my favorite lenses, but quickly realized my long lens was hitting the sweet spot…so I stayed with it. The kids played, climbed trees, and interacted with each other so sweetly. As newly weds, the couple were loving on each other…with no directions from me. Like I said, I love it when it happens like this. I had so much fun, I lost track of time and just enjoyed what I was doing. I’m really looking forward to photographing this family again!
We ended up with a ton of very beautiful, natural shots, all because we never asked the kids (nor the parents) to pose or say “Cheeeese!” If you are reading this, please take on that small lesson. Catch the kids doing things in their own environment, doing what they love…running, jumping, laughing (or frowning). Capture that real, authentic moment. They don’t even need to look into the camera. Eventually they will look over with the most natural looks, and boom, you’ve got your shot. I promise it’ll be worth it. It may not be right down the camera’s lens, but least it won’t be with the dreaded “Cheeeese” look.