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Tips to Help You Smile Naturally in Your Next Portrait Session

Not everyone feels comfortable in front of a camera and this generally leads to forced smiles. Here are some helpful tips for getting everyone to smile as authentically as possible in your next portrait session.


Get them laughing.

Get someone to tell a great joke or a funny story to get everyone laughing, which will produce some real genuine smiles.

Forget the cheese.

Instead of using the classic ‘say cheese’ line, incorporate something unexpected into the sentence to elicit smiles and laughter. Using the word ‘money’ instead of cheese also produces a more natural smile.

Take a breath.

If you have people who are really nervous, get them to close their eyes, take a deep breath and smile as they open their eyes again.

Look at each other.

Sometimes all it takes is looking at the people you love to achieve the perfect smiles for your next family photo.

Fake your laughter.

While it may feel strange at first, getting everyone to fake a laugh leads to some of the best smiles.

Be silly.

Get everyone to stick their tongues out or wiggle their bums for a fun reaction.

Happy thoughts.

Get everyone to think of something that really makes them happy.

Relax those facial muscles.

Very often a forced smile is due to tense facial muscles. To prevent this, get everyone to scrunch up their faces and relax them to achieve a natural smile.

Give them a compliment.

A compliment makes anyone feel good so why not give each other a genuine compliment to produce some natural smiles.

Overall, make this a fun day out for everyone to set the right mood and the genuine, happy smiles will follow.


Award-winning portrait photographer Shannon Edney's photos have been featured on multiple magazine covers with photos published in print and digital advertisements around the world. Based out of Missoula, Montana, Shannon specializes in portrait photography showcasing people, dogs, and horses (all breeds, with a focus on the Arabian horse). Shannon is known for her ability to catch the perfect expression and capture her subjects in unique lighting, resulting in portraits rich in artistry that will be treasured for years to come.

Please contact Shannon for schedule, availability and pricing.