How to Get Your Kids to Smile for Photos

I get this question all the time both in general conversations and also during portrait sessions. Honestly, sometimes your kids will cooperate and other times they just won’t no matter what you do! I have a deep passion for photographing my children and capturing all of their personality. That includes everything from their infectious laughter to their serious and solemn moods. Getting my kids and others to smile can sometimes be a challenge. Some of the tricks that I have come to rely on when it comes to capturing those perfect shots of laughter are ones I use ALL the time.

So do you find yourself taking photographs that you would love to be frame worthy only to find your kids are making this face in all of them? Well for starters these expressions are still frame-bale and adorable but if you’re wanting to capture those beautiful smiles that are genuine rather than a product of you yelling “Say Cheese” 5,000 times then here are my tips for you!


Have a few classic kid jokes on hand. What kind of music do planets listen to? Nep-tunes. Whats a snakes favorite subject? Hisssstory. Why did the drum take a nap? It was beat!

Try saying something totally random and bizarre right before taking a photograph such as “Whales where red shoes!”

Tickle them! Tickles are always the best way to get those smiles going!!!


For toddlers give them something to look at. If you’re using a DLSR camera you can actually file off the bottom of a Pez candy dispenser and it fits on to your external flash attachment! Cool right!? Even better you can show your child that once they look at tit the Pez gives out a piece of candy as a reward. Pure. Genius. (Dont worry about eye contact with the camera. Truly authentic photos rarely have the subject looking directly into the lens.)

I’ll grab a few bunny ears or goofy antennas form dollar tree and pop them on my head when the kids aren’t paying attention then ask them whats on my head!? (commence snapping tons of photos here!)

Some kids just hate cameras. Most adults do too. But being in front of a camera doesn’t have to be uncomfortable for the little ones. In fact I often encourage them, to come see themselves in the camera and even let them snap a few photos themselves! They love it!


Tell them there’s a little fairy that lives inside the lens that sometimes comes out if you look closely for her. One tome this actually freaked my youngest out and she kept running away from me. It ended up having the opposite effect. LOL!

Posing can be difficult for the toddlers and younger kids who love to fidget. PLay  game of copy cat or Simon says to nail some perfect poses. 

Have them Fake Laugh with you! Yes fake laugh! Fake laughing will soon and undoubtedly turn into authentic laughter because of the sillyness of it. 

Play a game, have them run or have them chase you! 


Ask for a sad face. Then a silly face. A happy face….so and so on! You’ll be sure to get plenty of expressions. 

 Have a noise maker on hand that makes silly loud noises! 

Ask silly questions. This is always great for the especially shy little ones who are stubborn and would rather look everywhere else but at you. Some questions I ask are “Does your Daddy wear diapers?”, “How old are you? Let me guess about 35?!”, “Is there broccoli in my teeth?”. Soon they will open up to you and become more relaxed. 



After trying these out your photos are sure to be filled with authentic laughter and genuine smiles. Remember to capture the beauty and uniqueness of all your child’s personality too!



Fair Minded Mommy





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