OK, so – no, don’t ever say that to a subject. The command “smile” is like saying “look weird”, “look unnatural”, “assume a pose”. And not only to young children.
Instead, tell stories, say something funny, get the subject to relax. This picture of me was taken by a student a day or two ago:
And I never smile. But, mention certain subjects and I smile naturally, not because I am told to smile – that never works.
This is one reason portraits can take time to make. Getting a subject to relax cannot be done in a hurry.
How did we light this?
- Expose for the background. Ensure the background light does work as “fill light” for the subject.
- Use an umbrella-mounted speedlight (shooting through the umbrella if you can), connected via pocketwizards.
- Position the umbrella somewhere 45 degrees above the subject, and for a male, 45 degrees to the side if you like.
- Set the flash power according to the exposure you worked out for the background. Use a light meter to verify that.
Bob’s your uncle: Practice that technique and you will do much better when shooting portraits. And remember, never say “smiiile”.