Cheese. I hate that word. I want to erase it from the vocabulary of every single parent on the face of the planet. Okay, rant over. Now let's get down to business, not to defeat the huns, but to look at how to get a natural smile out of a child who has been told to say "cheese" his whole live. (Disclaimer: I am by no means trying to bash parents who use this word. If they are comfortable with the smiles they get while using that word, more power to them. However, as a photographer, I strive to take pictures that are as true to a person's nature as possible, and so therefore, the word "cheese" has no place in my vocabulary while a camera is in my hand.)
The other day I had the privilege of taking some pictures of one of my best friend's little kids. Somewhat sadly, I don't have any pictures to show you that depict the say-cheese-smile. However, I think the ones I do have will show you enough to hopefully convince you to throw "cheese" out on its ear in the rain.
Picture #1. I actually like this one. I asked him to go sit on the rock and showed him where to place his hands, but the look was all his doing. Cute, solemn picture, but not what I am looking for.
Picture #2. Yeah, now we are getting off track. His left hand is blurry, and while I am fine with him looking up, the look on his face is not a good one.
Picture #3. Tissue, anyone? Okay picture, but again, it's not what I am looking for.
Picture #4. Ah. Now we are getting somewhere. I grabbed a leaf and was "tickling" him with it which ended up producing some great smiles. I like this picture, but his hand is up which I don't like, as well as the look on his face isn't incredibly relaxed.
Picture #5. Eyes closed and leaf in the way. 'Nuff said.
Picture #6. Cute look, but the fact that his hands and body are moving make me want to throw this picture away. However, I do like the opened mouth laugh. But it's not quite what I had in mind.
Picture #7. There it is. The picture I have been waiting for. His hands are relaxed and by his sides, his body is relaxed and bent forward just a bit. He's not looking at the camera, but that's okay since his smile is relaxed and genuine.
I edit #7, throw the other 6 out, and everybody is happy, happy, happy.
So there you have it! The process I go through to not only get a good smile, but to pick out that good smile from my other pictures. And sometimes, I look through my pictures and don't have a good one. Which is okay. It happens. You learn from your mistakes and hopefully become a better photographer every single time you pick up your camera.