It's inevitable.. you're all posed and ready for your photographer to snap away, and as soon as she says, "alright, ready?" the kiddos give you that cheesy yearbook smile. It's a little cringey, and not the most flattering, but your little ones are trying their best, so you just go with it.

I book most of my clients right around dinner time, so it's likely that the younger members of your family might get fussy because they're hungry, or it's time for a nap. That's not great for that genuine, care-free vibe you're probably looking for in your photos either!

What if I told you there's a way to beat the 2nd grade yearbook smile? Actually, there's 4!

Play red light, green light

So this tip actually came from one of my recent holiday family sessions! I like to incorporate a lot of movement into my photos, because it adds an element of authenticity, but the kids just weren't getting the idea of walking around and looking in different directions. So what does mom decide to do? "Hey guys! Let's play red light, green light! When I say yellow, walk SUPER slow okay?" And man it worked like a charm! Those kids were giggling and I got the BEST candids out of them!

I incorporated it into a session with some middle aged kids (7-9) and it still worked out perfectly! Who knew that a game I used to play in elementary school would make for some of the cutest photos?

play their favorite song

No doubt about it, little kids love music, and they love to dance! Why not let them move around and be themselves? Put on their favorite song or soundtrack and let it go during part of your session to get them feeling a little more comfortable! Your photographer will most likely be able to capture some pretty silly candids as well (and who doesn't love those)!

talk/joke/move around with them

You know your little ones best! Talk with them about their favorite animal or that trip you're taking to Disney World. Move around with them, carry them like a superhero, or put them up on your shoulders! Play with them just like you do at home to make them feel excited and relaxed to be in front of the camera. You could even do your photo session at a park, and play along with them on the slides or swing together. Creating a fun and memorable experience while you're getting photos done will always get genuine smiles out of the whole family!

Give them a toy to play with

Bringing props is always a fantastic idea, especially if we're dealing with a fussy toddler! Bring them a book and read to them, let them take a picture with their favorite stuffed animal, or pack up that yellow train that they can't get enough of. Sessions don't go to plan when little ones aren't comfortable. Bringing something from home makes them feel a little more at ease, and it gives them something to do! Not to mention, they'll love being able to take a photo with their favorite toy or lay on mom's chest while she reads them a story.