Tips for Perfect Back-to-School Smiles

As school picture day approaches, it’s likely that your child or teen has picked out the ideal outfit, hair style, and makeup. But what about their smile? It’s amazing how naturally we can smile throughout our daily interactions with friends and family, but as soon as someone points a camera at our faces, all the light and normality of those grins goes out the window.

 

So how does one put on the perfect smile for their school photography in New York and New Jersey when picture day rolls around? The following are a few tips from ABC School Photographers to help you get it right:

 

#1 Exercise the Smile Muscles

 

It might sound a little silly, but you wouldn’t go for a run without stretching first, right? The muscles responsible for creating a natural smile will do their job better if you’ve warmed them up a little before the picture itself. Stretch out your lips and pull out a big smile in the few minutes before the picture.

 

#2 Smile with Your Eyes

 

One of the biggest problems we see is when students smile with their mouths, but not their eyes. To make sure the smile looks natural, make sure it spreads across your whole face. You can do that by lifting your cheek muscles and raising your eyebrows slightly. Getting a good night’s sleep beforehand will help keep your eyes lively, too.

 

#3 Don’t Say “Cheese”

 

Saying “cheese” can make your smile look dead and odd, which is why you won’t see any professional photographers suggesting you say that before a picture. Focus on a good smile rather than what word to say. If you must say something, try “jelly” instead of “cheese.” The “y” sound lifts your cheeks the way they should be lifted.

 

#4 Relax

 

The more uptight you are about the picture, the more it’s going to show on your face when you smile. Close your eyes in the seconds before the picture so you can fully relax your face and get yourself ready for the most natural smile possible.

 

#5 Think Happy Thoughts

 

It might sound a little unusual, but thinking happy thoughts is a great way to bring forth a great smile. Think of something that really made you laugh recently, or picture people in your life that you love and who bring you happiness. In other words, get yourself in the right mindset for a smile to do exactly what it’s supposed to do.


Some of these exercises may feel a little cheesy or awkward, but in our experience working with kids as a respected school picture company in New York, we have seen great success with students doing these things before their portraits. Real smiles come without reservation, so you must figure out how to ensure the smiles in your pictures do the same. These tips will help make those smiles look happy and natural.