We all have experienced this one way or another. Your child is playing and you want to capture that perfect picture smile and you pulled out your camera and now your child won’t smile.
You beg them, plead with them, bribe them with candy or ice cream, ask them to give you that real smile again, and many more things to just get that real life smile! Then we as parents are left defeated and did not capture that real smile or expression when they were playing. I have been there and one thing I have learned is you cannot force smiles. It is not worth the fight or tantrum they can throw!
Children are happiest when they are in natural play whether it is playing outdoors chasing butterflies, playing ball, drawing with sidewalk chalk, or inside playing dress up, creating artwork, and pretend play. Their true little personalities come out during play!
I can remember when my daughter and son were little and they would play with her kitchen. We had one of those play kitchens that has a stove, refrigerator, sink, microwave, and other cool gadgets. They had plastic and wooden play food, silverware, dishes, aprons, and more. They would play for hours and pretend that they were mommy or daddy, cooking, cleaning, and just playing house. Those are the memories to capture. Those are the memories that years from now, you will look back at and remember real life!!
Yes, we all love those perfect, cheesy smiles, but if you want to capture your child’s true personality, take pictures when they are playing. Watch them as they play, listen to them, ask them questions of what they are doing. When you show interest in your child’s play, they will talk up a storm with you and their personalities will shine. When they are drawing or painting, as them questions like: “What are you drawing?” “What are you painting?” “What else are you going to add to your artwork?” “What are you favorite colors to use in your drawing?” “How does this picture make you feel?” Ask them lots of questions. Tell them how beautiful it is. Tell them what you like best about it. Give them praise and positive feedback. Children want love! They want to know they matter! They want to know they are important! Give them that praise and they will be so excited!
Take pictures as they are creating their masterpieces. Don’t ask them to look at you or smile. Take pictures of them deep in thought creating their artwork, picking up their colors, markers, or paint. Show the details. Nothing has to be perfect. If their hair is falling in their eyes, embrace it. If they have marker or paint all over them, just take the picture. It is real life! When they are done, then ask if you can take a picture of them holding their masterpiece and I guarantee, you are going to get a big smile because they are so proud of their artwork!
Your children have some amazing expressions, these are the details you want to remember. When they are moving off to college, you want to look back at life, what you guys did as a family, and how you lived it. Yes, those posed pictures are pretty too, but capture the real life story! Your children will thank you later!!
We also have in the shop, Capturing Natural Smiles & Expressions Cards. With over 40 cards that will give you prompts on you should capture the most natural and raw moments of your little one’s childhood.
We would love to hear your feedback on how it is going taking your children’s pictures in their natural play. What is your favorite activity that you like to watch your child play? Leave us a comment!
Elaine Pierce Photography is a Shreveport, Bossier City, Benton, Louisiana portrait photographer and educator.