How to Smile Beautifully, Even If You are Not Great at Smiling
This guy is all smiles seconds before seeing his bride on their wedding day. Shot at the Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo

How to Smile Beautifully, Even If You are Not Great at Smiling

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South Florida brides smiling for the camera on their wedding day.

Your wedding day is one of the most important day of your life. It is a day when you choose to devote yourself to your best friend forever.  Because it’s such a milestone in your life, photography is a huge part of your wedding. As a South Florida wedding photographer, I hear from lot’s of brides who are concerned about the groom smile. It’s true that many guys are just not into smiling.  This is also the case with brides as well.  It’s certainly understandable, that smiling on your wedding day can be a challenge for some people.  Often on a bride and grooms wedding day, there are lots of other things on a couples mind.  Brides are often concerned with, the hair and make-up, the flowers, the bridal gown, and the crazy unpredictable friend of the groom.  Ok yea, then the brides smile, as if that needs to be another issue. Smiling for your wedding pictures is the best way to convey the joy you your wedding day.  With that said many people have difficulty smiling for the camera.    Listen, I recently shot an engagement shoot here in South Florida where the groom could not smile, his smiles came off as smirks, or half smiles or forced grins.  During the shoot I was able to get him to crack a few genuine smiles but it was tough. He said, I’m a serious guy, I just don’t smile. In the end the pictures turned out great, however, his fiancé told me she wished he was better at smiling. – no one wants to feel that way about their wedding, elopement or engagement photos.  This is a day you want to remember forever.  However, sometimes brides and grooms are just not confortable cracking a smile, especially when they are concerned about the wedding.  Nerves can get in the way, and some people just don’t like how their smile looks, or just don’t like getting their picture taken. Whatever the case may be, I am here to break down those worries into simple steps the will ensure your photos will look beautiful on your special day.

At the bottom of this article are some very good links to other articles on smiling at your wedding.  I’ve tried to make this post as useful as possible.  

Bride getting her make-up done at the Harbor Beach Marriott, Fort Lauderdale.
Getting your make-up done is a great time to smile for a getting ready photo!

Imagine What Makes You Happy

You would think that this would be counterproductive because you need your eyes open for a picture. However, if you closed your eyes for a few seconds it would give you a chance to relax and kick those nerves to the curb. Let yourself travel to a place that makes you feel better. Whether it is the beach, mountains, or your pet, or whatever else, it will distract you from what is about to happen. Before you open your eyes, make sure to take a deep breath, and it is guaranteed that your smile will look and feel more natural.

Wedding photo of bride and groom smiling at the Eau, Palm Beach.
This couple had no problem smiling for the camera during their wedding photo session at the Eau, Palm Beach.

Remember to BREATHE!

 

Do you remember the episode in “Friends” when Monica and Chandler went to get their engagement photos done, (Click this link: It’s really funny and will make you smile!) but no matter what they tried, Chandler could not get himself to smile? Listen, stage fright is a very real thing, on and off the stage, and wedding photos are a big deal because they represent the most important day of your life (so far)! So, if you are the type of person that gets anxious, try to take 5 to 10 deep breaths beforehand to calm the nerves. When your muscles relax, they do not tighten as much, which in turn results in a livelier smile.

In addition to South Florida weddings, I also shoot many headshots. This photo shows various people smiling for their headshot.
As a South Florida photographer I shoot lots and lots of headshots. Just like a wedding, it’s very helpful to be good at smiling for the camera.

Laughing is the Best Medicine

One time when I had to take photos of a new team in a business, they had trouble getting the right smile during the photo session. So, in order to get the right smile, I had them speak out the alphabet backwards. You can imagine the reactions I got at first (looks of confusion, to be exact). However, the results were a complete 180 turnaround. Whether it is saying the alphabet backwards or saying something silly, laughing actually allows the photos to be more “candid” and showcase a more genuine smile. So, bring out the jokes and funny photos to the session, and I guarantee you, you will see amazing results!

Taken at the Marriott Harbor Beach, in Fort Lauderdale Florida.
It’s easier to smile when you are having a great time with the wedding party on the beach.

Say “Money”, not “Cheese”

Are you familiar with the remarkable Julie Andrews? If not, you are missing out on one of the most inspiring performers of all time – The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Princes Diaries, etc. Anyway, she came up with the perfect trick for creating the ‘picture perfect’ smile by saying only one word – Money. I know what you’re thinking, how can that make my smile picture worthy? Well, it’s simple. When you say the word “cheese”, it actually widens your mouth and makes it look like you are trying too hard. Instead, you just count down from three and say the word “money”, and voila! It also helps when you think of the nice things money could buy too, it helps. Don’t believe me? Ask Stephen Colbert – he lives off of only Julie Andrew’s tip now. Also, who doesn’t love money? It makes people happy.  Here is another fun link: (Julie Andrews says MONEY!)

Grooms smiling for the camera during their South Florida wedding.
Every once in a while I’ll come across a groom who isn’t into smiling. However, if you read the tips in this article the groom I’m sure the groom will smile like these guys.

See Your Loved One Behind the Camera

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Just imagine the audience naked and you won’t be nervous”? Well, instead of picturing the audience naked, just look at the camera and see your loved one. Although they will be next to you on your wedding day, you will not be looking at them the entire time. So, if you look at the camera by picturing your wife/husband, then you will look happier than you ever thought possible while looking at an inanimate object. Trust me, the change in the quality of the photo will be black and white. If it helps, just pretend to say “I do” in your head while looking at the camera, because your face will show the same emotion as you did when you were standing at the alter.

It’s easier for the bride to smile when the groom whispers in her ear.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Rehearsing isn’t just for actors. In reality, we practice for mostly everything we do in life (meetings, presentations, class, exams, even photos). Before the photoshoot, practice smiling in front of the mirror. Smile at yourself and see if you like what you see. You know how we can be our worst critic, so if you do not like how you smile, then more than likely you will work at it to improve it. If you don’t like the mirror, take selfies through your phone. It is known that if you practice something for over a week, it will become a habit. We all want to have a smile anyone could love, so make sure to keep practicing and eventually you will have one that you will want to show off.

It’s Show Time!

Your wedding day is quickly approaching – are you ready? Of course, duh! You have done all of the necessary tips and tricks that will ensure your wedding photos to be the best ones in the photo album. Just remember this, your smile is your best asset – so flaunt it! Pop the champagne because you’re getting married – it’s time to celebrate!

So there I was, at a beautiful South Florida wedding venue, I had my camera, and was ready to make to most amazing wedding pictures.  Then I remembered, this is the groom who couldn’t smile, the one I mentioned in the beginning of this post?   When he arrived he had a big smile and was able to smile beautifully on command.  It was really sort of amusing,  he would look at the camera, then smile a perfect genuine smile.  After I took the photo, he sort of acknowledged, in unspoken words, Yea, I got the smiling thing down. What changed? It turned out that he practiced and learned how to smile for his wedding!

If you would like more helpful information on how to smile for the camera, check out these links:

CAMERA SHY? 7 TIPS ON HOW TO GET OVER IT.  This side has some very helpful info not included in this article.

Whatever you do — DON’T SMILE

6 Tips for a Picture Perfect Smile on Your Wedding Day

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SMILING IN PUBLIC

SEVEN TRICKS TO HELP YOU SMILE NATURALLY AND LOOK GREAT IN PHOTOS

Is Your Smile Making You Unhappy?

 

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