Getting your members to smile for your Directory Photos

Getting Your Members To Smile For Your Directory Photos


“It’s hard not to feel happy when you make someone smile.”  

Roy T. Bennett

So, what’s the trick to making someone smile? More specifically, how do you get church members to smile when you’re photographing them for the church directory? 



Here are a few tricks to try:

As the photographer, be sure you’re smiling first. If you have a nice smile on your face and appear relaxed and comfortable, your subjects will feed off that energy. When your subjects arrive, greet them with a smile and a kind word — perhaps a compliment on their wardrobe choices. That will put them at ease right away. Keep smiling during the entire shoot, even if things don’t go precisely to plan.

You might tell a joke or two to get your subject(s) laughing. Once someone begins laughing, they’re likely to continue smiling. 

Get parents involved by asking them to tickle one of the kids. This may get everyone laughing, leading to more smiles. 

For group shots, ask everyone to look at each other and talk for a few moments. Take a few shots while they chat, and then ask them to look at you and smile. Take a few more shots. This method is especially helpful with couples who seem stiff or serious. To get more gentle facial expressions, have them look at each other and talk. Then have them look at the camera. 

It’s said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. There’s a certain truth to that. Ask your subjects to smile with their eyes. That can enhance their smile by bringing out the spirit within them. 

Don’t say, “say cheese.” Try a different, unexpected word, such as “monkey” or other words with a long E sound. Use a new word with every shot (donkey, beans, feet, green, etc.). They won’t know what word is next, so they’re bound to smile when they hear it. 

Unfortunately, some folks just won’t smile no matter what you try. It’s okay — don’t force it. If they’re relatively relaxed in the pose, the photo will represent them well.  

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Author Bio:

John Burns

Growing up as a preacher’s kid gave John an inside view of the church and how it works. He started with Communication Resources, Inc. in 1980 as a freelance illustrator. Since going fulltime in 1987, he’s worn many hats: illustrator, layout artist, editor, writer, photographer, videographer, programmer and more. Today he primarily creates graphics, emails and catalogs for the marketing department. On his own time, he draws and takes photos — challenging himself to shoot and edit photos with only his iPhone.

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