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How to Prevent Fake Smile Syndrome

Kids are completely unpredictable. They can be so adorable and easy going and laughing uncontrollably one minute, and the next minute, turn that charm off completely. They will typically smile for you all day long until you put them in front of a camera, then they freeze up like a deer in headlights. We want to avoid the gritted teeth and bug-eyed forced smiles during our session.


Here are some things you can do:

  1. Make a list of things that your child thinks are funny and send it to me prior to the session. This way, I can be prepared and add these things into my bag of tricks.

  2. Also give me a list of icebreakers for your child. Tell me the kinds of shows they watch, music they listen to, friends’ names, favorite story, etc. This will give me something to talk to them about, and will help them forget they’re in front of the camera.

  3. Practice phrases at home to see which ones evoke the best smiles from your child. (Please, oh please, avoid “Say cheese!” unless that really works for you child.)

  4. Try out a couple of jokes with them. During the session, I can ask them to tell me a joke and this will typically loosen them up as they tell it to me.

  5. If there is a song that your child loves, load it up to your phone and bring it along with you, or be prepared to sing it for them during the session.

Check out your Hartstein Photography Client Portal to find a questionnaire where it'll ask you these same things so I️ can best prepare for your session.

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