Natural Smiles in Family Sessions

Capturing natural smiles in family photography can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it’s certainly achievable. In this article, I will explore some key strategies and techniques I use to capture your family’s authentic & natural smiles.

1. Fun & Relaxed Atmosphere

I try to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere during your family photo session which really helps elicit natural smiles and genuine emotions from everyone in the family. I believe that through conversation and humour, I can help families feel at ease and capture candid, real moments. I also direct posing in a way that flatters and highlights everyone’s unique personality.

natural smiles

2. Light-Hearted

Keeping the session light-hearted and spontaneous helps with capturing natural smiles during a family photo session. As a Calgary family photographer I am open and adaptable to unexpected moments and candid expressions, and I will pivot and change direction when needed.

When a session is fun and relaxed, it allows the family to be more themselves and less self-conscious, resulting in true and natural smiles. I like to be prepared to go with the flow and adapt to changes in the session. For example, if a child becomes fussy or uncooperative, it’s important to take a break, have some snacks and regroup, rather than trying to force the situation.

3. Conversation

I like to engage my clients in conversation and get everyone talking and laughing. I find that by asking about their hobbies, interests, travel, or any recent events in their lives, it helps to break the ice and put the family at ease. I am genuinely interested in getting to know my clients, as I believe it makes the overall experience more pleasant for everyone involved. By encouraging everyone to talk and laugh, I can create a positive and relaxed environment which enables those natural smiles. Building personal connections with my clients is important to me as it helps to establish trust, results in repeat clients and ensures that the final photographs are a true representation of the family.

natural smiles

4. Encouraging the family to be themselves

Encouraging family members to be themselves and express their personalities is an essential aspect of capturing natural smiles during a family photo session. It allows the unique characteristics and individuality of each family member to shine through in the photos.

It is important for me to provide guidance and direction, but not to force the family into poses or expressions that feel unnatural to them. Instead, I encourage them to move around, explore different poses and be themselves. Encouraging family members to express their personalities can also help to create a more visually interesting and dynamic photo session. Each family member will bring their own unique energy and style to the session, which can add depth and character to the final images.

5. Props

Using props that reflect the family’s interests and personalities is another way to encourage those natural smiles and interactions among family members during a photo session. Props can be used to add an element of fun and playfulness to the session, and can also help to create a more personalized and meaningful photo session.

For example, if a family member has a passion for music, you can incorporate that into the session by including a guitar or other instrument as a prop. Similarly, if a family member is a sports fan, you can incorporate that into the session by including a basketball or baseball bat.

Props can also be used to create specific themes or scenes during a photo session. For example, if a family is celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, you can incorporate props such as balloons, confetti, or a special sign to reflect the occasion.

Another aspect to consider is the family pet, they are considered members of the family and can be included in the session. They are almost a prop themselves, but you can also add a cute bowtie or their favourite toy.

6. Humour

Using humour is probably one of the best ways to put everyone at ease during a family photo session. I’m not a comedian, but I try and I come armed with some dad jokes for the littles. I have little finger puppets for the really young crowd that seem to go over well and sometimes the most effective laughs come from the kids telling me their jokes. I am also not above some potty humour and commenting on who might be farting during the photographs.


7. Be Patient

Working with kids can be unpredictable and so I am patient. Children can be easily distracted, fussy or uncooperative, which can make it difficult to capture natural smiles. We take breaks, make the session fun and be ready to adapt when things don’t go as planned. I always bring candy and if it’s alright with the parents, it usually works to snap them out of a funk or used as a bribe and given out with some high fives at the end of the session.