Tips for Raising a Smile when you are a Photographer
It is a photographer’s nightmare when those that are being photographed seem incapable of smiling. Thankfully, there are tips that a photographer can use to make the magic happen and the image pleasing.
After reading this article, we hope that, as a photographer, you will never have to fear again a subject not smiling for you as you would wish, and spoiling what could have made the perfect family photograph. Instead, you will have a subject that grins with delight and so boosts your reputation as the photographer who always gets results.
Words of Encouragement
There is nothing like a few words of encouragement to make a photographic subject smile. Unlike animals, human beings should be in charge of their facial expressions and so at least be capable of forcing a smile if it does not come naturally to them. Sometimes, however, a little encouragement is required by the photographer.
Traditionally, words such as “cheese” have been used. “Cheesing” was first referenced in 1943 by the Big Spring Herald, Texas’s local newspaper. Perhaps it might be more effective, though, if you come up with a different silly word that someone is not already familiar with, as that might raise more of a smile. Nobody wants to see someone miserable in a photograph.
So, what word should I could up with? Well, the silliest word that you can think of. Perhaps not “silly sausage” if your subject is a vegan or vegetarian as this is more likely to raise a frown than a smile. Alternatively, try a silly action instead.
Lips or Teeth?
A subject can smile with either their lips or their teeth. Many people will prefer to keep their teeth in if they have been in battles with the dentist because of an addition to sugary sweets. However, where people have perfect teeth, they should be encouraged to use them as part of their smile. It makes for a much better smile. The reason for this is that it can be harder to hold your face and your lips in the correct position to look like you are smiling. Particularly in later years when your facial muscles are not so firm and harder to control. It may certainly take a few more takes for a photographer to eliminate the grimace, or for the model to have an understanding of what they are doing to make them less than photogenic.
Have a mirror for your photographic subject to look in so that they can see just what you are seeing as the photographer. Beforehand, the model could practice holding their face in different positions to see which gives the impression that they are smiling. Then, when photographs are being taken, if a large mirror, this could remain behind you as the photographer and still provide a guide for the model. You will wonder why you had not thought about this sooner.
You could try playing happy music while your model is posing for the photograph. Lively music will cheer people up and put them in the right mood to reflect the happy motion you are looking for when you want someone to smile for you.
The only drawback is that a model might start singing along to the music that you are playing, and then they might have their mouth open at the wrong angles or at the wrong times. Perhaps, instead, you could try some bouncy instrumental music, as long as that does not cause the model to jig around too much and alter themselves from the position you wanted them in, or worse still, end up blurring the photograph. Perhaps some party music from the late James Last and his Orchestra.
To conclude, if you are a photographer by hobby or trade and want your subject to be smiling, then consider using funny words that are not already familiar to them to encourage them to laugh. Think about whether your subject smiles best using their teeth or a certain lip position. If neither of these work, because perhaps a subject simply does not know how to smile naturally, a mirror might be the answer so that a subject can visually see what the photographer sees. Do not feel concerned yet if none of this has worked yet because there is always music to make someone feel happy. Someone that feels a certain way will more often look that way too. That is if you have a human subject in front of you.