One of the most important parts of a portrait is the children’s expressions! You can have a perfect portrait and a so-so expression and the portrait falls flat. If there is a great expression any problems or issues fade into the background.
“It was amazing how many looks you captured of Rachael! You captured her essence in all of the expressions, her smiles, goofiness and her serious side.” Melissa
When I start the session we are just warming up, so I’ll ask them to do a few things and see what happens. One thing I didn’t do is ask her to smile. If you do that you get a grin that does not reach the child’s eyes. There are many tricks up my sleeve to get children’s expressions. Sometimes I have to do some prompting in the posing. I say ambiguous things like “stand sideways or Can you stand on your toes?” Then, they do what they do naturally and the portrait doesn’t look stiff or posed.
In addition to a natural pose I’m waiting for the expression. While they are thinking about what I said they try to do it and then the finale when they have it accomplished. It’s the child’s reaction I’m looking for. While they are doing those things you get all the expressions you need. I have to admit that sometimes I do act a little silly or ask them to do silly things. I might ask them to lean and lean and keep leaning until they laugh. We play a little and see what develops naturally.. If you get a series of many expressions you like, you could use them in a framed collage.
I’m looking for a serious expression. Sometimes asking them not to smile gets you a whole host of other children’s expressions! Eventually I get something where they are just looking straight into the camera. These relaxed expressions are some of my favorites because it seems like you can see right into their soul. These portraits make great wall displays because you’ll never tire of the expression.
Barbara Glaeser is a photographer and artist. She has been in love with photography for over 25 years and still enjoys learning all there is to the business and art of photography.
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