All too often, I hear the family stressing out (my own included), trying to make the children SMILE. Hey- Seriously. Can we talk? When you think of kids, don’t you kind-of, sort-of, think of laughter and games and generally happy feelings? Now when you tell a child to do something… how often do they listen and do it well? Well, maybe yours do, but they are not smiling while they do it, are they? Ha ha. So let’s think truly… How can I capture the real personality of my children and family? Do you think it is to bark at them and ask them to sit still and look right at you and SMILE? Will that technique really capture Stella’s take-your-breath-away twinkle in her eyes- or will she be pasting on her “please get this over with” gritted teeth look? We both know the answer… don’t we? So, do me a HUGE favor, the next time your mouth opens up to ask your child to say “cheese” or “smile” (because it always has for as long as you can remember- it will be a hard habit to break!) Think about the result. What do you want to look at in ten years? The innocent, genuine excitement of your child or a forced
“There are not many smiling people in my pictures. I’ve never asked anyone to smile. Almost never. Maybe a few times I felt I had to, when people looked really depressed, but I apologized for asking. You can almost hear the sigh of relief when you tell someone they don’t have to smile.
Where did “smile for the camera” come from? It’s a tic. A way of directing attention to the camera. “Look at the birdie.” The smile is a component of family pictures. Mother’s don’t want to see their children looking unhappy. My mother would hire a local photographer to make a family portrait and he would inevitably ask us all to smile. They were canned smiles. Forced. In the fifties, everything was supposed to be OK, although half the time it wasn’t OK. It took me years to understand that I equated asking someone to smile with asking them to do something false.
There are people who smile naturally. It’s their temperament. And you can catch a smile that is spontaneous, of the moment.”