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Behind the Shot – Getting Genuine Laughter

Photography Tips - Technical

September 1, 2023


One thing I take very seriously is getting genuine emotions and expressions from my clients. More than knowing what you “looked like” at that time in your life, I want my clients to know what it FELT like to be in that moment.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for the traditional “look at the camera and smile” photos – and I always take them – but my real goal is to simply be a spectator of your love, joy & connection. That is what you will cherish when this time is far behind you!

There are many ways that I get genuine laughter & smiles from my clients, but today I want to share the easiest way!

Once I get everyone situated in a pose (yes, I do pose or GUIDE my clients…more on that in another post), I always start with the traditional “look at me” shot. We get that out of the way! 🙂

Then, after I take several shots – vertical and horizontal, I simply say this…

“Okay, this is going to feel so cheesy, but it’s going to look great, I promise! I want you to look at each other and smile, but DON’T LOOK AT ME!!”

This usually makes people feel so cheesy (just as I warned them), but the beauty is that in about 5 seconds, they will actually start laughing at each other because they’ll feel so goofy just staring & smiling at each other!! Haha 🙂 The best shots don’t come immediately! They come when the family starts laughing and smiling FOR REAL!

As they start laughing & smiling for real, I just keep shooting away and will laugh with them and say things like, “You guys are great at being cheesy!!” or “Mom & Dad, look at your favorite kid!” LOL!! They’ll automatically laugh or the kids will act appalled because they looked at someone else! It just sparks fun, genuine emotion. I’ll make jokes about looking up each other’s noses if there’s kids involved! They usually act grossed out and will laugh! 🙂

You can do the same thing when it’s just siblings!

“Okay, let’s get cheesy again!! Look and smile at each other, but DON’T LOOK AT ME!!” 🙂

The siblings will act so annoyed to have to look at each other, but then they’ll start laughing! I’ll say things like, “Awww, look how much you LOVE each other!!!” (just to tease them)

And there you have it! Just by giving a simple prompt that seems so obvious, you’ll end up getting genuine emotion that reflects true love, joy & connection!

Try it next time!! Once they do what you ask, just shoot away…capturing all the laughter and fun expressions!! It’ll be so worth it! 🙂

And because I always love sharing my settings with you, here are my general settings & stats for the images in this post.

Time of Year: May

Time of Day: Evening (near sunset)

Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens: Canon 35mm f/1.4L

Settings: Aperture (f-stop) – f/3.2 ISO – 200 Shutter Speed – 1/640 sec.

  • Aperture was at 3.2 since there were multiple people in the shot. The slightly higher aperture allows more of the image to be in focus. If it had been just 1-2 people, I would’ve lowered my aperture to around 2.0-2.5 or so.
  • ISO was 200 because it was still really bright outside, so I did’t need much of a light “boost” (as I like to call it)
  • Shutter Speed – once I set my aperture & ISO, I simply turned my shutter speed dial until my light meter was at zero (in the middle). It happened to be 1/640.

This picture was not from these images, but this shows you the light meter! When the tick-mark is in the middle (or at zero), that lets you know you have a good/correct exposure and you’re ready to take the picture! 🙂

As always, if you have questions, just ask! If you’re new to manual mode and would like to know how to get your camera off of Auto, I have a free guide that can help you do just that! You can get the free guide HERE! If you’re ready to take your photography skills to the next level & love more of a one-on-one approach, then I’d love to be your coach! You can view photography coaching details HERE!

Thanks for being here!! Have the best day! 🙂

Ashlee 🙂

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