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If you’re a portrait photographer, it’s really good to know how to make your clients smile NATURALLY. And when you are the person in front of the lens, you’ll see how difficult it is to make your smile look unforced. Trust me, I know. I was on the “other side of the lens” for many years before holding my camera up to others. It is awkward even terrifying for some. I would like to share seven tips that will help your clients smile. And they’re also great for your own images, you know, for instagram and Facebook and your profile photo.

1. DON’T SAY “CHEESE”

If you’re posing for the shot, use a Hollywood trick and say “money” instead. This movement of the lips makes the smile look more natural. And, well, sometimes the thought of money can bring a smile to your face, too. Saying the word “cheese” should be used only to capture snapshots at kids’ birthday parties – maybe….

2. RELAX YOUR FACE AND JAW MUSCLES

When you’re nervous, it’s obvious on your face. Focus on your face and jaw muscles, and take a second or two to consciously relax them. The natural smile will come on its own. I like to tell clients to open their mouth and chew or stick out their tongue and make a funny face every once in while.

3. THINK ABOUT SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

This is one of the oldest tricks to smile naturally. While posing for the shot, think about people or things that make you happy. Like ice cream, a massage, someone giving you a check for a billion dollars!

4. GET GOOFY

So this one goes along with relaxing the jaw muscle. Another great make a “motorboat sounds” with your lips or shaking your head. You can also do your favorite silly dance, sing something… Whatever makes you feel happy. This way, you’ll relax and stop focusing on the camera.

5. ASK THE PHOTOGRAPHER TO TELL A JOKE

Jokes are great. So is joking around. My client have NO idea I have a masters degree when I am shooting. I am silly and goofy. I bark and make noises (if there is a dog involved anyway) and I tell jokes. Honesty, I usually say something like “ya’ll are stuck with me since for the next hour while I practice my stand up routine on you. I am a closet comedian. And for a reason LOL” This always loosens everyone up, and makes you laugh or smile. Remembering a funny situation or listening to a song that makes you happy can also help lighten the mood.

6. IMAGINE SOMEONE YOU LIKE BEHIND THE LENS

Similar to thinking about something that makes you happy, you can also imagine someone who does it. Imagine this person taking a photo of you. Would a Disney prince or princess, a cartoon character or Brad Pitt taking a photo of you make you smile? Brad would!!

7. CLOSE YOUR EYES

Last but not least, if you’re feeling nervous, take a few seconds to relax. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and then open your eyes. As a yogi, I promise this is a good one to use ALL the time! You’ll feel calmer and smile more naturally.

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