IMPORTANT NOTICE #1: I am no photographer. In fact, I don't even play one on TV.
IMPORTANT NOTICE #2: All of the following images have been photoshopped to compensate for Important Notice #1.
Photoshop can fix a lot of poor photography skills. I am a perfect example of a really horrible photographer who can reach mediocre with this software. However, Photoshop can't fix boring. There are no filters or adjustments for bringing out the subject's personality. There is no action for tweaking a fake smile into a sincere expression.
So, how do you get your kids to be their true selves in front of the camera?
Here's what works for me.
1. Get your camera all ready to go. Have your subject in the lens, the focus adjusted, your finger ready to snap and ask them a question. Click right when you see the moment that says, "There's my kid. There's the face I know and love."
Here, I asked Abby, "What would you do if the cutest boy in your class asked you to dance?"
She gave me a mixture of embarrassed excitement, with a hint of "I don't know!"
2. Use different camera angles. The above photo was shot from above, this one was shot from below. Here I asked her to imagine what her perfect birthday cake would be.
3. Try unusual crops. You don't always need to have a face in the frame to capture who your child really is. I love this photo with Abby's crazy painted fingernails, rolled up jeans and one green toenail.
4. Don't get so caught up in getting the photo that you miss the actual moment. Slow down the clicking to let them talk and forget they're being photographed. Keep the camera ready to go, but just listen to what they have to say until the perfect shot appears.
During our photoshoot I learned that when Abby is 16, she has plans to either drive a limousine, a yellow slug bug or a rusty old truck painted blue (she thinks they're cool). I also learned that she would like to have a stakeout like we used to, "You know where you invite friends over and grill steak outside."