Take Great Photos of Kids Every Time, part 3

Great photos are over-rated: they take forever to set up, the "right" equipment costs an arm and a leg, and nobody really notices the difference anyway, do they?

No, they don't, at least not consciously. But subconsciously, people can tell the difference between a great photo and a mediocre one. But in order to take great photos, you need to know how to take bad ones first, right? As part two of a series (In part one, I talked about the light) here's another simple rule to keep in mind in order to take lousy photos:

3. Make them say “Cheese”
When you find something that works, stick with it, right? Right. And saying "Cheese" always works right? Wrong. Telling people to say cheese never works. Especially if you don't snap the shutter until after they actually say "Cheese", which is what most people do. If you're lucky, you can get them to hold the fake smile after they say cheese while their eyes are batting around wondering when the misery will be over. Look at it this way, you're going to get a school portrait every year, so why make the little monsters stand still for a million more, epecially if the result is lame?

Candid shots are quite frequently better because the smiles are genuine. They're more work, but they're worth it. Shoot picture of kids doing stuff they like to do, such as playing at a playground or reading a book with Grampy. Here's a tip: When shooting candids, the flash will often alert the subject(s) that they're under surveilance. Stay poised after this first shot, when they look up (often smiling) you can get a keeper. Another tip: shoot in burst mode. This will give you a better chance of getting the eyes open, mouth just right, and all of the other little things that screw up a picture. This is especially important when shooting a group of people who are talking.