That made me think What does it take to capture the real smile?
‘Smile – say cheese’ probably the worst thing you can ask of a person who is in front of your camera. For a start have a look in the mirror and mouth or say the word cheese – how does that look? Try sausages instead and it may be a little better? Asking someone to look at the camera and smile, normally has the opposite effect or you get a really false smile that does not look natural. One of the first things on my list of tips for parents pre a shoot is please do not ask the children to look at the camera and smile.
My tag line is ‘natural happy relaxed photography for you and your family’ and that’s really what I would like to deliver. To that end my shoots are always tailored to the client and getting them relaxed and enjoying themselves.
For smaller children it’s not great to go in loud and scare them and sometimes I will not get my camera out for a good few minutes at the start of a session and just get them used to me. Normally clients arrive by car and so many times little ones have been asleep and need some calmness whilst they adjust to their surroundings.
Talking about favourite tv programs, toys and what they like to do is normally a start. Also, for parents it’s good to also get them also to relax as it’s not every day they are in front of a camera. A family shoot is just that – capturing a family unit and how they fit together.
Maybe it’s a walking shot holding hands or a game of tag or sitting together and lots of tickles. Older kids have been known to floss for me (the dance that is!!!) and its once everyone is laughing and having fun that I can capture their real expressions that those closest to them get to see. That’s my aim – not a fake smile and looking at the camera.
Some of my favourite shots are a child not smiling looking straight at camera, solemn and thoughtful – I wonder what they are thinking? Or of a parent kissing a child and vice versa with them not even aware of the camera.
This recent shot is a Nana and her granddaughter, and I feel it captures the love of the nana for this most precious little bundle.
Not sure what you were like growing up but believe it or not my nickname was little madam! (A title I later used for one of my themed kids shoots!).
I am sure they are making it up and that I was an angel but an image of me at about three sitting on my hands and telling my brother very bossily what to do may indicate otherwise!!!
It’s those moments that as a parent I love to capture for our own children and want to capture for my clients.
(NB - this image of me as a child makes me laugh and lives in our lounge - you can see how the light has faded it over time which is not great. I have asked my dad if he has the negatives so I can get it reprinted but am not sure he will find them. A lesson I tell my clients - over time images will fade if in direct sunlight or just out in daylight - especially older ones or home printed.
I so wish I had taken a photograph of this image before I displayed it - my dress was blue with red embroidery hence why I chose this frame with the blue stones to display it in - not that you can tell now I am afraid. ps ... yes of course its been very many years since this was taken!!! but you do not ask a lady how old she is!!)
If a child or teenager has a pout or a way of conveying their mood with a unique expression, it’s the perfect moment to immortalise and also a good way to embarrass them in later life with a new girlfriend/boyfriend or at their wedding!
On the other hand, on such days as weddings capturing the genuine emotion is so lovely. I like to be at the side (yes up my ladder!) when the wedding couple leave the ceremony room and then as their guests come up to congratulate them, I can capture the real happiness and good wishes as they occur naturally.
One of my next blogs will be on tips for your photography shoot and how you can enjoy it and have fun with a little preparation and patience!
Ps – don’t get me wrong if I can capture a gorgeous real smile whilst they are looking at camera, I love those too!!! and to be honest when I look at a variety of my work and from feedback from clients my signature image is one of those!