No Cheese! How to Get People to Smile Naturally for Photos

How to Smile for Pictures

How to Get People to Smile & Laugh Naturally for Photos

Be honest, how many photographers reading this are still saying, “Smile on three!  One…two…three!” or “Everyone say cheese!”?  While these phrases work wonders on getting your clients to stretch their lips into forming a smile…it isn’t one of those authentic, I’m loving life and being with my family or best friend on Earth right now type of smiles – you know what I mean?

It really is pretty simple to get your clients to smile naturally, so don’t worry about overcoming an unattainable or hard to reach goal.  All we have to do is open ourselves up and talk to them. 

Now…I don’t mean becoming chatty Kathy here – there’s a big difference.  If you are talking to your clients the entire time without taking enough pause to stand back and capture the beautiful moments and emotions unfolding in front of you, the majority of your images are going to be of their mouths open trying to answer your questions. 

The point is to make a statement or ask a question with the intent to immediately capture their response.  Their response is absolutely key!

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Now get ready to have some fun (and laughs) because we have gathered all of our favorite questions and phrases to break the ice and create the smiles & joy your clients want you to capture!

These have been created to work with almost any type of session (except newborns of course because let’s face it they are little stinkers and smile when they want to)!

How to Get Couples to Smile Naturally for Photos

When photographing couples, ask them to stare into each others eyes longingly and fill the air (and photo) with infectious laughter.  For couples, try these questions and phrases:

  • If your partner was any kind of snack food…what would it be and why?
  • Whisper something in your partners ear…anything – remember I can’t hear you!
  • So who asked the other out first?
  • When was your first kiss?

How to Get a Natural Smile

How to Get Children to Smile Naturally for Photos

It can be tough to get children to smile when they don’t know you.  Try these fun questions and phrases to get them to open up and give you a few laughs:

  • How old are you?  Make up a crazy number and watch them laugh!
  • What’s the coolest present Santa has brought you?
  • How high can you jump?  Can you touch the sky?
  • What is your favorite game to play?

How to Get the Best Smile for a Photo

How to Get Families to Smile Naturally for Photos

Getting families to interact is the key to getting fun and sweet images of them together.  Here are some tried and true questions and phrases that are sure to bring out family love and togetherness:

  • Take turns telling each other what your favorite part of the day was.
  • Whatever you do…make sure you don’t tickle each other!!
  • Everybody get super close and give one big hug!

Words to Say When Taking a Picture

How to Get Teenagers to Smile Naturally for Photos

Being in your teens can be a tough time, and even tougher for us older folks to feel like we can connect and interact with them.  We’ve listed a few simple phrases and questions to help your teenage subjects open up and smile!

  • What’s your fave book?  TV show?
  • What your most embarrassing moment?
  • What are your plans after graduation?  Taking over the world?  Or maybe just major in English (let the laughter ensue).

Tips for Smiling in Photos


When you get back home after your session to review the images, you will definitely be able to see a big difference and feel more love radiating from your photos and GUESS WHAT!?

You’re client’s will LOVE IT TOO!

I mean, who wouldn’t want to see their love and happiness radiating from every single image?

Wow that was super fun!  We would love to hear about your experiences using these techniques to get your clients to smile naturally and if you have your own favorite phrase or question you use during your sessions please feel free to share it with us in the comments below! –  And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!

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