How to Capture Natural Smiles From Your Kids

All five of my kids have beautiful smiles. I love seeing them look up at me with sly grins and full-teeth, cheek-to-cheek smiles. They always warm my heart.

Why, then, do I so often end up deleting pictures of my precious children? Most often it’s because of their facial expressions. Sometimes they won’t smile at all for the camera, and other times they smile a little too much.

As much as I love to take pictures, I regularly complain that my kids are my most difficult subjects.

Through trial and error and lots of practice, I’ve learned a few tricks to capturing the happy shots that you will want to remember forever.

How to capture natural smiles

  • Talk to your subject and make them feel at ease. Tell a story. Make them laugh.
  • Nothing is worse for a smile than trying to hold it for several minutes. When I am taking someone’s picture, I often tell them to look down or away briefly and relax their face. Whenever they (and the camera) are ready, I tell them to count to 3 and look toward me, smiling. Ta-Dah! The smile is fresh and natural!
  • When photographing kids, let them hold something–whether it be a treasured stuffed animal or a simple rock from the ground. Keeping their hands busy seems to settle and focus kids.
  • Have a stubborn kid? Try to sneak in some candid shots. You’ll be amazed at how wonderful smiling pictures are, even when your subject is not looking at the camera.
  • And the last tip? Tell your subject NOT to smile. It works almost every time.


  1. Great tips, Lolli and what a beautiful family you have.

  2. great tips! just have them say 1, 2 3 chimpanzee, too!! :o)

  3. Great tips! I’ve learned to not say “smile or cheese”. The kids always give a fake smile when I do this!

  4. Great tips. I LOVE taking photos. I am bad at not deleting the ones I should delete. I am at the point where I need a bigger drive for them.

  5. This is really great advice! I have so many fudged shots, I just can’t delete them. I’m a photo hoarder :) Your family is beautiful!

  6. Great tips- I LOVE the one about holding something, that’s genius! {Well, they all are!}

  7. fabulous tips. I always get the cheeser smiles from my kids too