The camera smile, You know the one? The fake smile that doesn’t reach their eyes. It varies from child to child, it can be a big cheesy grin or a grimace, but one thing is always the same, You know it’s not your child’s really smile.

The camera smile starts early. I’ve seen 18 month old babies do it! And I’m sorry to say mama, but as a parent blogger, your child will probably have it bad! That’s the price we pay for taking lots of photos for the blog.

Fear not though. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get those beautiful, genuine smiles.

1. Ask them not to smile. Get them to pull a serious face, even a grumpy face, and ask them to hold it. If they start to smile, act indignant and tell them they need to hold the serious face. They won’t be able to and will eventually laugh. Get a shot of them laughing, but keep shooting. The real gem is the moment after the laughs, that’s when you get the real smile.

2. A variation on the above for older children who can keep the serious face,. Get them to change expressions. Shout out the expressions quickly so they have to keep up with you. Shout out obscure emotions or even make up words. They’ll laugh and then right after you’ll get that natural smile.

3. Never ask them to smile, or say cheese. Kids are so used to having their photo taken, they know the drill. Teach them that its OK not to smile every time they see a camera. Just keep things natural. Keep talking to them whilst you are taking photos and don’t make a big deal out of it.

4. With little children, play peekaboo. Get them to hide their faces and snap as soon as they show their faces. They’ll be too busy with the game to fake a smile.

5. Talk to them about a topic they love, they will naturally smile when they are taking about something that makes them happy. Drop your camera so that your child can see your face and you can converse, only picking it up when you’re ready to take the photo.

Let them pull faces and be goofy. Keep shooting, after the goofy faces come the real smiles.

7. To get a group of children to smile at the same time, play a game. Shout out a name of one of the group and an expression. Everyone has to look at that person and pull that face. When you shout out your own name, happy face, they will look at you and smile.

8. Get them to tell you a joke, they will laugh and then smile.

9. Get them to fake laugh, you too! They’ll soon turn into really laughs.

10. Ask them to suggest an alternative to ‘cheese’. Have them yell it when you take the photo. They’ll love having the control and will probably pick something silly or rude. Don’t actually take the shot of them saying it, but the seconds afterwards, when it makes then smile.

Bonus tip – Embrace the imperfect. Even if they don’t smile, that’s OK. I love serious expressions, they are your child too. And if they’re not looking at the camera, that’s OK too. If they are focused on something they love doing you’ve got a great photo capturing a part of their childhood.