As Standard As It Gets… or?

As you will have read, I spent the last few weeks having enormous fun with the kids and their parents shooting mall pictures with Santa.

Usually, these are normal “pictures for grandma”. Standard smiles. Nothing wrong with those, but why not shake them up a little?

Like a scarily fast sleigh:

Or real emotion:

Or personality:

Or interaction:

A Back-to-back pose:

And here’s me (without the beard), giving Santa Props:

There’s so much you can do with a simple, simple setup.

And if you want smiles, then here are my tips of the day:

  • Avoid telling boys (and some shy girls) to smile! Rather, try to make them laugh. Anything fun is good.
  • Alternately, tell them to laugh. This often gets you smiles.
  • Have parents stand behind you, so the child looks at you when looking at the parents.
  • After a few smile pictures, do something else – anything. Ask for grumpy faces. Ask for silly faces. Say that smiling is forbidden. Anything to relax them a little. Then go back to regular smiles.
  • For little ones, do a game of peek-a-boo behind the camera. This sometimes works quite well to raise a smile.
  • Try  toys – Trish, my co-shooter, brought a colourful rattling toy and a cookie monster, and these worked well.

Out of the hundreds of kids I photographed, only one or two were devoid of any expression or personality. Most came out of their shell – some with some effort, but all except a couple worked.

I prefer “fun” and “real” portraits to standard shots, but I shoot both. And I had great fun coming up with some great poses for the parents. They may not buy them, but often do – and at least they get a choice.

Merry Christmas!


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