My Fail-Proof Poses for Perfect Kid Smiles Every Time


Taking photos of young families is one of my favorite parts of being a photographer. Kids bring so much joy and vibrancy to our lives, and I believe it’s important to capture those feelings! On the flip side, photographing kids can bring some unexpected challenges too. 

The ultimate goal of our photos is to get images that represent your unique family dynamic and preserve the sweet smiles of each family member. If you’re concerned about getting natural smiles from your kids, I have a few tried-and-true tips that can help! 

In this blog post, I want to chat about five fail-proof poses to get your kids feeling comfortable, which will encourage them to be themselves and allow us to get the best possible photos of your family. Let’s get started!

Simple Movements

Movement is a really great way to help kids feel natural and normal during family photos.  I try to keep my prompts as simple as possible so even toddlers and young children can easily follow them. Examples of this could include things like clapping their hands, touching their nose, or standing on their tip-toes. The general idea is to get your little ones feeling relaxed (and a little silly) so we can capture those candid smiles.

Shoulder Rides

If you’ve taken family photos with me before, you know that I am a big fan of shoulder rides! When working with young kids especially, there is something magical about being physically lifted off your feet that usually inspires genuine laughter. Whether they’re from a parent or older sibling, shoulder rides are a great way to create closeness.

Exploring Your Surroundings

One reason I love shooting outdoors is because there is room for kids to move and explore. From new walkers to teenagers, walking around and checking out the location is always a fun idea. You can chat about fun memories or tell jokes to help everyone feel at ease. Some of my favorite photos are from moments where kids are just being themselves.

Little Games

Having a few simple games up your sleeve can be a lifesaver when kids are feeling distracted or a little upset. Things like peekaboo, down by the banks, playing telephone, or holding hands and skipping are helpful ways to provide a change of pace. Even thinking of a few nursery rhymes with motions can bring a smile to young kids’ faces. 

Close Embraces

One of my go-to poses is having the entire family gather in tight for a group hug. I also love asking everyone to put their faces close together and snuggle for a close-up shot. The physical connection between parents and kids really helps encourage authentic smiles from everyone. One-on-one hugs between dad and his little girl or mom and her new baby also make for sweet photos.

While you’re preparing for your session, remember that not every kid will respond to these prompts in the same way. While some may be excited to laugh and play, others may be more reserved. Both are great! As the parent you know your kiddos best, so try not to push them for too long. I hope these prompts are helpful and that your photos go perfectly!


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Meet kailee


As someone who wears a lot of hats (wife, momma, nurse, and photographer). I know that those once in a lifetime moments can truly fly by. My mission is to capture those beautiful moments so that you can come back to them years down the road and relive them! The best way to do that if to find out who YOU are and what type of moments YOU treasure the most.

Wanna meet me? I love my cute family, the pop of my Made by Mary necklace over my heather grey sweatshirt, and eating ice cream for every occasion - Tillamook Mudslide is my favorite!

And I can't wait to get to know you!

I’m Kailee

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