Seizing a photo of a smile so pure and so natural is a blessing and a curse.
Asking a bunch of people to smile spontaneously for you is not as easy as asking them to say, “Cheese!” Though it has been customary that photographers will let their subjects declare that word draw out an awkward grin, it may not be as effective and the result may not be as satisfying as you may have expected.
Genuine versus Fake
Expressions must not only be seen but also be felt. And in photographs, if you have a good eye, it’s very easy to spot a real smile from a fake one. Usually, fake smiles only use the mouths; while genuine smiles have eye involvement. The eyes must crinkle at the sides and the have to glimmer with emotions.
Hinders of a genuine smile
Even the best photographers can have a hard time capturing a genuine smile if the subject is not cooperating as instructed. And as subjects, it’s not easy as well. Sometimes, subjects have low self-esteem or are anxious and it will affect the quality of the shot. Also, if the photographer is not confident enough, the subject will be affected.
But there are ways to make the photo session favorable for both the subject and the photographer. Depending on the situation and the subject, there are a handful of ways to let out that most cherished smile.
So, here some tricks that you can do:
- Crack a joke. Don’t worry if it’s not funny. Jokes that are corny or stale can sometimes elicit more laughter than the ones that require logic.
- Make fun of yourself. Do something that you think is funny like warding off an insect or fighting it off with the reflector.
- Ask them to say silly tongue twisters a couple of times before taking that shot.
- Ask them to do something like jump or dance or whatever minor activity that can be done which is related to the shoot.
- Throw in some lines like, “Wow, you have nice flowing hair.” Or, “You look pretty or dashing.” Compliments can go a long way. Positive words can make anyone feel flattered and eventually, make them smile.
- Surprise them with a song. Pretend to fix something and then, out of nowhere, just heighten your voice and on the top of your lungs, sing like you mean it. If you sound like a dying cat, your subjects will surely giggle.
- Tell a funny story about something that really happened to you or shares something that you’ve watched which you find hilarious.
- Talk funny. Purposely say something that the subjects cannot understand and when they see that you are having a hard time explaining what you just said, this may elicit a whimsical reaction.
- If all else fails and already ran out of options, teach them how to smile using their eyes.
- As a photographer, keep smiling and don’t lose your jolly demeanor. Since smiles are contagious, your happy disposition somehow has the capacity to turn that frown upside down.
Don’t give up just yet
At first, it will be quite difficult and frustrating; especially if your subjects are not comfortable with getting their pictures taken. Allow them to adjust to their environment. Show them some shots you took of them that looked a little off and tell them what to do next time to avoid it. Take some time to know your subject’s personality so you can have an idea what would benefit the both of you. Casually talk to them in a friendly tone to help them relax. Communication is a pretty effective tool for capturing that genuine smile.