The Family Photo from a Dentist’s Perspective

Pretty Smiles for the family photo

Do you spend a great deal of holiday time stressing, not about Christmas shopping, tree decorating, or cookie baking, but simply on how you are going to get your kids or grandkids, or even your husband, to smile at your annual family photo session? Many moms feel frazzled during the holiday season, trying to achieve that one perfect family photo. After all, they have spent all year helping to ensure their kids get the oral care they need to keep their smiles healthy and beautiful. If you are looking for ways to help ensure your next family photo outing is a success, try some tips from someone who knows a lot about smiles – your family dentist!

Help Kids Smile Naturally by Limiting Stress

One thing you can do to help ensure photographic success, is trying to keep calm and encourage everyone to enjoy the time together, as a family, rather than stressing – and overemphasizing the importance of getting a “perfect” picture. (Often outtakes are fun and sometimes more wonderful keepsakes than the more formal stuff, anyways.) So don’t put too much pressure on yourself, or your family, to get a perfect image. Instead, keep the focus on having fun!

Don’t Force the Cheese

Many kids have a tendency to over smile, or look strained, when posing for pictures. So rather than having the photographer request they smile, why not aim to make them smile, naturally, instead. From tickling them, to telling corny jokes, you likely know a lot of ways to make them laugh. This is often the best way to get genuine smiles on camera, too. It’s also a great chance for a photographer to capture your whole family in candid moments of silliness and joy. So have fun!

Don’t Shoot on Empty Stomachs

Children are especially prone to irritability if they are sleepy or hungry. The same can even be true for adults. By making sure that everyone in the family is well-rested and not hungry, you can improve your chances of a successful photo shoot. 

Be Natural

Your photographer will give specific advice, but the general rule is that not everyone has to be staring at the camera with a frozen smile. More and more, photographers are looking for candid images that capture real moments of joy. Children and adults do not have to be looking in the same direction to achieve this result. In fact, a little variation can lead to better photo composition and overall results. 

Other Proven Tricks

These tips are kid-tested and mother-approved ways to lighten the mood before an important holiday vacation. 

  • Start off with a quick game of chase: You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid who wasn’t in a good mood after a good ol’ game of chase. Right before a photoshoot, let your kiddos chase you to put them in a happy mood.
  • Give them the “try not to laugh” challenge: YouTube has plenty of these challenges. Tell your child that you are going to tell a joke but they cannot smile. This is an impossible feat that will leave him or her bursting out laughing. Staring contests between siblings can similarly work well.
  • Let dad do his dad thing: Sometimes, it’s best to let dad to what dads do best. Kids love climbing on dad or being tossed in the air. Who doesn’t love the chance to fly in the air like Superman? Some of the silly posses can even make great action shots.
  • Bring up an exciting topic: Kids love talking about upcoming trips or outings. Reminding your kiddos about an upcoming vacation or the new puppy at home will leave them giddy with excitement. 
  • Group laughs: It sounds simple, but having your kids laugh out loud can engender the same feelings that real laughter does.
  • Have a list of kid-friendly jokes: Why should you never give a bear the TV remote? Because he will keep pressing the “paws” button. You get the idea.

Working with the right photographer is important. Search around or ask friends for a good recommendation. You’ll want to hire someone who specializes in working with families and kids. They’ve seen everything, and they will have tricks to brighten up those smiles. Also, remember to not push it. Even the most talented photographer knows when to call it a day if someone just doesn’t want to smile. Pushing your child too hard could build resentment and mistrust of family photos. 

Make Sure Your Smiles Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Of course, you also want to make sure everyone’s smiles look awesome on the day of your photos. If you’ve been diligent about dental care, you are already well on your way to making this happen.

For yourself and your spouse, you might consider professional teeth whitening/bleaching prior to your session, particularly if your teeth are looking deeply discolored. Also, be mindful of what lipstick shade you’re choosing. Some make teeth look brighter, while others can actually cause the smile to look darker or more discolored. If you really want to make a difference in your smile, talk to your cosmetic dentist about how to make your smile brighter with whitening or dental veneers.

Also, for your husband and kids, consider giving them each an untinted lip balm the day of the session. Dry lips can sometimes show up in photos, so combat this (and increase their comfort) by giving them each a neutral balm.

Get your smiles in great shape

Have you been paying attention to your smile? Do you have or stains or chips on your teeth? Have your teeth worn down so you don’t even see them? Perhaps a little whitening treatment will perk your smile up.

We invite you to call us for help. Cosmetic dentistry is our specialty.