My smiling girl

My smiling girl

8 week online workshop
lesson 6
Natural Smiles

When I take photos of Heather I almost always do it while she is doing something else – I don’t try to just have her posing for photos as then I get the goofy faces and the complete lack of cooperation (taking pictures of other people’s kids I do not have this problem, I can direct them and engage them very differently). But for this exercise I decided to just be taking photos of Heather and see if I could still get some natural smiles out of her.
Indoors with a large window facing her (and one behind, but the sun was on the side of the window she was facing). ISO 640 and f/3.2 for all of these, in hindsight I should have bumped the ISO up a bit more so I could have had a faster shutter speed, some of the shots were a bit soft because she is three so doesn’t really do sitting still.
I love the first photo, particularly in black and white (I hate pine boards so I bought a house full of the stuff, go figure). The window provided great catchlights and I used a reflector for a bit of fill on her face as well. The reflector is what she is playing hide and seek with in the second photo. You can see my ability to hold her attention didn’t last long 🙁 So I gave her a book to read as well and the third and last photos are catching her expressions as we read the story (Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems, it is hysterical). Think I’ll stick with giving her distractions for now at least! But I am really happy with the first photo, and that was without any distractions.

Smile Smile-1 Smile-2 Smile-3

I live in the beautiful hills of Perth with my husband and three year old daughter. I have degrees in history and law but am staying home for a few years to raise my gorgeous little girl. I love creative pursuits, be it creative play with my three year old, sewing, or my new passion - photography. I've owned a DSLR for about 6 years but have only just started to really explore it's capabilities (and mine!).


  1. It’s often harder with you own kids. And if using distractions is the best way to go for now, that’s fine. She’ll probably be a bit more cooperative as she gets older. She does look like she’s having fun in most of these so that’s good. I agree that these are not quite a sharp as they could be and if you feel your shutter speed is the issue at least you know what to try next time. You didn’t mention what your shutter speed was but I assume it was slow. The window light has given you some beautiful catchlights and well done for trying the reflector. It can make a big difference in correctly exposing skin tones especially as she is partly backlit by the window behind her.

    • Shutter speeds were around 1/40 – 1/60, not that slow but slower than I like for wriggly three year old. I’ll have to try again in the same lighting to get something I’m happier with.
      I’m falling in love with reflectors, I need more practice but when I get it right I just love the light from it. Unfortunately Heather thinks they are a great toy, particularly good for bopping people over the head with.

  2. The first image is gorgeous. I love the happiness in her eyes! Understand completely the problems with taking pictures of a ‘squirmy monster’, my 2 year old and 1 year old are determined now to either run away or hide under the table when I pull the camera out :/.

  3. I love the first photo, but I also love the second one – mostly because she’s connecting with you through your photography. The reflector tells a story.

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