Capturing a Smile

Model: Olesya

One of our goals during a creative or senior portrait session is getting our subject to smile.   In my opinion it is a good skill for a portrait photographer to be able to evoke a response from your subject and smiling is one of them.  Now I’ll admit that it is far easier to get a real smile when working with one person versus a group of people.  In either case I’ll often tell one of my “awesome” jokes and in most cases the joke is so dumb that they can’t help but crack a smile. You can also ask them to do the impossible.  For example, ask them to start skipping towards a tree while skipping and singing The Hills Are Alive from the Sound of Music.  If Marcus is there I will ask him to demonstrate.  Trust me that has worked many times as long as you are working with someone that’s watched the film.  Also, I usually end up talking throughout the entire shoot.  I want to get to know my subject so I will ask a lot of questions about themselves.  I will also pull out my phone and show them a few poses to get their opinions.  I’ve found that It can help to explain why I am putting them in a specific pose. Example, this will make you look more curvy or draw attention to your eyes etc.

Getting Olesya to crack her first smile was difficult!  After I told her my awesome joke, she looked around as if to say, “he can’t be serious”.  Eventually I did capture a few nice smiles from Oleysa but those came naturally while talking about the beautiful views around us in Harpers Ferry.  After she cracked her first smile, the rest came easily and what a beautiful smile she has.

  One more thing.  Your mood will often set the mood of your subject.  If you’re not happy and excited to be working with them, they won’t be happy to be working with you! Hope these tips help and if not, work on your jokes….:-)


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