Don’t Say Cheese! Tips for Natural Smiles

Most children will say “cheese!” automatically when they see a camera, but the smiles the word “cheese!” produces are canned and unnatural. The teeth are usually gritted, and the rest of their face just looks fake.

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1. Distract Them.

To get natural, beautiful smiles, the kids need to be distracted from the camera. Get them talking about their family, school, what’s around them, pets… Anything and everything. Or, give them something to do, such as running, jumping, holding a flower, or spinning. When they are focused on other things, they are more likely to relax and forget about smiling!

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2. Be unpredictable.

They are expecting you to tell them to say “cheese!” Instead tell them to say “pickles!” or “toot!” Try telling them not to smile. Depending on their age, it will work every time!

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3. Be silly.

Ask them to be silly and then be silly back. Tell them to show you a grumpy face and then scream. Be as silly as you can.

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Your goal is not to make them smile, but give them a reason to smile.

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xo, Kylee Maughan

Hi, I’m Kylee. I’m a full-time family and wedding photographer based out of Northern Utah. I am also full-time wife and mother of two, part-time cleaner and really part-time cook. My approach to photography is capturing and documenting families, brides, children and all people in natural, real-life ways. The pictures I cherish the most are the candid laughs, kids chasing each other around the room, real snuggles and genuine fun. I also love to teach, write and inspire. Follow along on my Blog, Facebook page, or Instagram. You can sign up for my course “Fab Families” here.

Are you interested in learning more about this subject? Be sure to check out these courses:

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Fab Families with Kylee Ann | Mastering Manual with Brooke Snow | Oh So Composed with Sarah Allred | All the Cool Kids with Jenny Gibson

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Kylee Maughan

Kylee Maughan


I was born and raised in the land of Evergreens, mild temperatures & rain. I am a Washington girl through and through living in hot and cold Cache Valley, Utah. I got my Bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, majored in Family Life and loved every second!

Family and my faith are everything to me. My favorite things include chocolate, Netflix, deep fried sushi and Costa Vida.

When my husband and I were dating, I shared my dreams of becoming a photographer with him. Two months later, he sold his Xbox and bought me my very first real DSLR camera for Valentine’s Day and thus begun Kylee Ann Photography. I was completely clueless and inexperienced, but I NEVER stopped dreaming. I specialize in a photojournalistic style of shooting. My goal in every session is to capture love in natural, real-life ways. The pictures I cherish the most are the candid laughs, kids chasing each other and other genuine fun. I also love to teach! Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to be an educator online and in-person – teaching several courses, setting up workshops, mentoring sessions, organizing local clubs and writing for national blogs.
Kylee Maughan

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