5 Tips For Capturing Natural Expressions

Updated: February 8, 2015 Mpix Support Guest Post, Photos, Tips


Alicia and Jeremy Brown created the blog, Write You On My Heart, to help parents everywhere learn how easy it can be to take beautiful, natural photos of their children, even if the only camera available is a smartphone. Write You On My Heart is full of practical iPhone photography tutorials and inspirational tips for making picture time more connecting and fun.

At our house, we have lots of kids, and we take lots of pictures of them. Over the years, we’ve figured out ways to keep things fun and lighthearted during picture time. Sometimes we watch quietly and document what is happening, but other times we get involved and invite our kids to play with us while we take pictures of them.

We’ve found that the best way to capture natural expression in our photos is to make plenty of space for play in our family life together. Here are some of the things we do to create that space:

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1. Make time. Hungry, tired, hurried kids are typically not very open to being photographed. We try to make picture times happen when everyone involved is rested and fed.

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2. Watch moments unfold. We love to photograph moments when our children are immersed in play, lost in their imaginations. This is a beautiful way to capture the interests and personality of our children without asking them to look or even interact with us as the pictures are taken.

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3. Ask a question. One of the easiest ways to bring up natural expression is to invite a child to share a story or answer a question about something that interests him. Once he has something else to focus on and get excited about, the camera is quickly forgotten.

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4. Be playful. At our house, we have some fun picture time games we like to play together. One of our favorites is Try To Make Me Laugh. The game is just like it sounds. Invite your child to be silly, make funny sounds, and tell jokes to get you to smile and laugh. Let yourself be carried away in the fun with your child.

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5. Invite ideas. Instead of feeling like you have to come up with your own plans for every picture, occasionally ask your child what kind of picture she thinks would be fun to try. Your kids have some of the best ideas ever, and they love it when you ask for their opinion.

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When we play with our children as we photograph them, we are deepening trust, learning to better see them as individuals, and helping them feel honored, respected and loved.

For more from Alicia and Jeremy, check out their blog, Write You On My Heart, and their e-book, Playful Pictures. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

16 Responses to “5 Tips For Capturing Natural Expressions”

  1. February 17, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Very nice!

    • Jeremy February 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the post William!

  2. Sara February 17, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    This is really great! It is always a fun challenge trying to evoke emotion from kids.

    • Jeremy February 17, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks Sara 🙂 You’re right, helping children find natural emotion in from of a camera is both challenging and enjoyable!

  3. Sheila February 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    I can’t wait to “Try to the make me laugh” game with my grandkids!

    • Jeremy February 17, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

      Sheila, we would love to hear how it goes for you after you’ve tried it!

  4. February 17, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Great advice – “right on” (as we used to say)


    Scott H

    • Jeremy February 23, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

      Thank you Scott!

  5. Jenn February 18, 2015 at 10:08 am #

    I am loving your blog and book. I am so happy that I discovered your work and only wish I had found it many years ago when the oldest of my children were young. The ideas and tips that you include have been immensely helpful.

    • Jeremy February 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      Jenn, thank you for saying so 🙂 We’re so glad to have connected with you!

  6. March 12, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    My first camera was an canon AE1 I used to take multiple pics of the same thing just to get one great shot! I love the digital age with my grandchildren 4mo and 4 yrs. I can’t wait to try your ideas!

  7. May 12, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Any tips for adults who don’t have natural smiles when they’re in front of the camera? Hard to get family pics with these folks.

  8. Kathy Jakopovich October 9, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    I so LOVE this IDEA! Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I can’t wait to test it out on my grandkids!!!

    Thank you for the inspiration

    • October 9, 2015 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks Kathy!


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