The cheesy grin

Sarah had a great question in the comments of the last post. What do you do when your children either mug for the camera or turn away completely and refuse to look at you.

I think all kids go through these stages at some point. And the are both so annoying.

I have a few suggestions.

1) Don’t call their attention to the camera. Don’t say look at me, or smile, or anything else. Try to sneakily take photos of them being themselves. Even if the shot would be perfect if they would just look over at you with a smile, resist saying it. Yes, I know how difficult this is.

the face that happens when you say, "smile!"

See, sometimes I can not resist the urge to say, “Smile!”

2) Shoot from the hip. Meaning, don’t bring the camera up to your face. Just hold it somewhere else. Pretend you are just cleaning it or playing with it. Pretend it is just sitting there on your lap or on a table. ANYTHING other than taking their picture with it. This is where the automatic focus is so nice. You may not get a lot of good photos, but again, that is the beauty of digital– the ability to delete. I have quite a few nice photos that I got using this technique. Sometimes it is just the unique perspective that makes them interesting.

3) Have your camera out all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. They will eventually get used to it and think nothing of you taking photos if you are always doing it.

13 Responses to “The cheesy grin”

  1. Brigitte Says:

    I’ll try not telling her to smile. She actually makes a good smile on cue - for about half a second. By the time my digital camera actually TAKES the picture (about 2 hours after I hit the button, apparently), she’s stopped smiling and is halfway out of the frame. Love that deletion ability!

  2. Sarah Says:

    Thank you!

    I don’t think we’ve ever told her to smile, she just does it on her own. But I think that getting her used to seeing the camera out all the time would work. As it is, the second she sees it, she gets excited by it, and I think that’s our big problem. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself, but in any case I’m glad you did!

  3. Stephanie Says:

    I have that problem trying to take pictures of my dogs. When they see the camera, they wonder what it is and get closer and closer sniffing at it until all I get are dog nostrils. It’s modern art, I tell ya!

  4. Kendra Says:

    I don’t know how many pictures I have of my children as babies sporting the “deer caught in the highlights” look. I’ll have to try shooting from the hip. Thanks!

  5. Julie K in Taiwan Says:

    I’ll often try to get her to say a phrase that ends in an “eeee” sound.

    I’ve also taken pictures of the cheesy grin and we’ve compared which smile looks “nicer”.

    And I try to give her oportunities to be silly in front of the camera, and then ask for what I’m looking for.

  6. greatexpectations Says:

    Great tips! I have twin toddlers, though, so none of these tricks even work for them. Though, I did discover yesterday when they were playing outside that if I opened and closed the door to the house, they would look up — not in a cheesy-smile kind of way, but a very innocent, “where are you going,” Mama” kind of way. Of course, this only works when I am near a door. Still, it made for a decent photo that I’m going to use on my blog today. I love your tips … keep ‘em coming!

  7. chris Says:


    I did that last night with the bear that was in our yard to make it look over at me. Of course I was INSIDE of the house, but it still worked

  8. Kimmer Says:

    Excellent tips! I used #2 to get a picture of a friend’s daughter who is notoriously camera shy. Since she was used to me putting the camera up to my eye, she paid no attention when I casually looked at it down in my lap (she probably thought I was just reviewing pictures AGAIN, yeesh, grownups are so dull) and I managed to get a lovely candid shot.

    I’ve also had good luck with older kids by telling them that if I get a shot with “nice smiles” first (no mugging!), they will be free to make the goofiest faces possible on camera.

  9. Carla Robinson Says:

    GREAT ideas! I know with my first child, I have a TON of pics where he is saying CHEESE! Uggh! Still, I love those pics :-)

    Love your blog!!

  10. Stephanie Says:

    Is that a smudge I see on her cheek?

    :) Just kidding. I know you are getting tired of me teasing you. I couldn’t help it, though.

  11. Mary W Says:

    with my older two I get them to tell me a story. The think about the story - not the camera.

  12. Erna Says:

    I agree with what you shared. My kids are used to the camera, ours or my parents’, being out all the time. I also love the candid shots a lot more than posed ones, although they all have their time and place.

  13. jen Says:

    My problem is often getting two of them to look at the same time. Sometimes I will frame the picture and then yell “HEY!” and snap. It also helps to have a faster camera!

    Also if your camera can do burst shooting that’s a good option, there’s bound to be at least one good shot in there.

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