Ever since we were little, as soon as a camera came out and we needed to pose for a picture, "CHEESE" was on the tip of our tongues. Sure, it can somewhat mimic a smile but in my experience, it's usually a big, stinky, cheesy smile. It can make a harsh expression, bring out wrinkles and look fake, so let's change that ;)
Parents, when you are preparing your family in advance for a photo session (which I highly recommend doing), let the kids (and adults) practice smiles in the mirror. Try saying different words and see how they translate to smiles. "Pizza" is a good one try; it's typically a fave food and words ending with the "aaaah" sound tend to provide a more natural and relaxed expression. Feel free to use silly words or even make up words, if that's what scores sweet smiles.
During a session, I try to connect with children to inspire some real smiles and giggles, however as we are warming up, it's good to have a few strategies in my back pocket. If you have any personal family tips or tricks for putting the family at ease, please share! Also, let your children play and have fun during the session, even if they get a little dirty or are acting goofy; those are the best smiles of all.
La vie est belle.