Some enviable people are born with photogenic genes and movie-star smiles, but for the rest of us, here are a few tips on how portrait subjects can smile naturally for those dreaded family photo sessions (or any other time!). Some photographers still direct their subjects to say “cheese” which could be producing undesirable results, definitely something to consider:
1) Don’t say “cheese.” It stretches your face and mouth into an unnatural position that looks strained rather than relaxed.
2) Instead, say a word that ends in an “uh” sound. Yoga. Mocha. Grandpa. Really, it works.
3) Laugh while the photo is being taken. It can be just a little chuckle that helps relax your face, or try thinking of something funny for some genuine laughter and your own version of that famous open-mouthed Julia Roberts smile.
4) Lift the tip of your tongue up behind your front teeth. This helps position your lips into a relaxed pose.
5) Relax your face. With a genuine smile, the face is completely relaxed except at the mouth and the corner of the eyes (i.e. smiling eyes). Try to replicate that and not stiffen your cheeks while smiling.
Or watch this video for the fun of it.