Most of the parents I work with want photographs of their children smiling. That's completely understandable! We all want to see (and remember) our kids happy and laughing. But sometimes by focusing so much on getting a smile in a photo, we forget about their non-smiling face. A calm peaceful look can be just as precious. An intense stare shows strength and character. And features that are at rest are just as important to remember as a toothy grin.
So, this Blog post has one point, really... to show that non-smiling photographs can be beautiful! Not only that, but they are often some of my favorite images from the photoshoot.
They remind me of early photographs, in which nobody smiled (this was partly due to technical limitations and how long one had to sit for a photo, and partly because serious looks were much more preferred) and paintings. And the images below do end up looking quite a bit like paintings when printed on fine art paper. It's truly special to hold something like that in your hands and admire it's beauty.
Some of the advantages on not smiling in a photograph:
- It's easier to do! Holding a smile can become very unnatural and forced after just a few moments, but having a natural relaxed facial expression is much easier, for both kids and adults.
- It creates a classic image, more so than a smiling photograph would.
- There is a bit of a mystery and calmness with a well-captured non-smiling photo. I wait for the in-between moments to avoid having kids look confused or apprehensive (which is the look they give 99% of the time when they're looking at the camera).
- There's less pressure! Trying to elicit a natural smile from a child often stresses everyone out (both kids and parents!). When we let go of expectations and focus instead on letting the kids be themselves (smiling, or not), we end up with much better photographs in the end.