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  • Writer's pictureScott Gutentag

Don't "Say Cheese!" For Great Photos

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

"Say Cheese!!" typically results in canned, awkward, and exaggerated smiles or facial expressions. Instead, I like to get reactions that look more natural and fun during my portrait photography sessions for everyone including those who are neurotypical, neurodivergent, and have some form of disability. Getting a clean and classy look requires one to get into the person's world of fun and make-believe no matter their profile and age. Have fun that's consistent with their interests! Joke, have them make silly faces, play peek-a-boo, play music, dance, show their favorite things on the ipad, and have them tell you what they love can lead to great looks! The goal is authenticity. Check out various authentic looks at my site for ideas.


brothers joking with each other
lady with disability laughing

Specific to child portrait photography, understanding their level of thinking and reasoning is important. For example, kids under 6 years don't think logically or abstractly and respond better to movement, rules and concrete and short directions rather than lengthy and in-depth explanations. Follow the lead of kids as they take you on a journey into the impossible and fun! Get into their worlds by being silly, playing with them, make up running games, have them be your helper, and take movement breaks to get some natural and awesome looking shots. BTW, bringing out the kid in adults is equally important as the goal is comfort, fun, and feeling relaxed. Even getting serious/dramatic shots definitely requires a sense of relaxation and calm. BTW, some of the best and most interesting shots involve looking away or eyes closed with their own unique expression or some other cool emotional look...priceless images to be remembered and enjoyed forever! Feel free to reach out to chat, ask, and discuss!


boy with hand on chin during child headshot

boy with autism and family dancing during photoshoot

man with intellectual disability looking into camera during portrait session



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